BRADY: With Its History of Political Targeting, Why Would We Reward the IRS with Greater Power Over Sensitive Taxpayer Data?

September 29, 2021 — Blog    — Opening Statements    — Oversight    — Press Releases   

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As Democrats push to give the IRS access to Americans’ bank accounts, top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) kicked off a Republican roundtablewith Oversight Republican Leader Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) to examine the agency’s history of political targeting and leaks of private taxpayer information.

 

In the roundtable, Rep. Brady said:

 

“Democrats are leading a campaign to supercharge the IRS, so that it can surveil Americans’ bank accounts, targeting not the wealthy, but farmers, families, and America’s small businesses.

 

“Democrats have proposed increasing IRS funding by a massive $80 billion over the next decade. They also want to put the IRS in charge of Americans’ paid family and medical leave and to have unfettered access to both your personal and business bank accounts.

 

“Why would we reward the IRS with greater power over sensitive taxpayer data after these scandals?”

 

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

 

The American people and local banks will reject Democrats’ push for a more invasive, supercharged IRS.

  • President Biden’s proposal to spend $80 billion on an army of auditors and to turn local banks into chapters of the IRS to report on the gross transactions of your personal and business bank account is unacceptable to the American people.
  • Every American must pay their taxes, but there’s very little evidence suggesting the IRS estimate on unpaid taxes (dubbed the “tax gap”) is accurate, given that it may be based on data from seven years ago or wild guesses on foreign transactions, cryptocurrency, concealed income, and other sectors.

 

READ: Fact Check: Biden’s Supercharged IRS Includes Bank Reporting, Hardships for Taxpayers

 

The burden of Democrats’ supercharged IRS reporting falls on families, small businesses, and local banks.

 

READ: The Numbers in Biden’s Invasive Tax Gap Plan Don’t Add Up

 

CLICK HERE to watch Rep. Brady’s opening remarks.

 

CLICK HERE to watch the full event.

 

Rep. Brady’s opening remarks as prepared for delivery appear below.

 

Good morning – and thank you all for joining us. Thank you to Congressman Kelly for leading this roundtable discussion.

 

Before Mr. Kelly introduces our two guests, who I know well andrespect a great deal, I’d like to begin with a couple of points. I’ll be brief.

 

Unfortunately, first, the Internal Revenue Service has a long history of political targeting.

 

They recently denied a Christian organization tax-exempt status because its emphasis on certain “Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] Party and candidates.”

 

Former IRS official Lois Lerner admitted in 2013 that Tea Party groups and other pro-life and Constitutional groups had been targeted for audits of tax-exemption, which effectively delayed that status until they could no longer effectively advocate in the 2012 election.

 

It was made known during the investigation by the Ways and MeansCommittee that the IRS was knowingly misleading and givingmisleading statements to Congress during that investigation, whichled to the resignation of the then-IRS Commissioner.

 

Second point: It has been three months since ProPublica published private taxpayer data that was leaked. The IRS still lacks answers.

 

Just a few weeks ago, IRS Commissioner Rettig wrote in a letter: “We do not know the source of the information”…“We do not know how many investigations may be underway.”

 

It is not even clear they yet know what was stolen. They have notsecured, to our knowledge, the information and stolen data thatProPublica claims to not even know the source.

 

So an obvious question: how do you investigate a crime if you don’tknow what was stolen?

 

It’s with this background that we arrive at my third point: Democrats are leading a campaign to supercharge the IRS, so that it can surveil Americans’ bank accounts, targeting not the wealthy,but farmers, families, and America’s small businesses.

 

Democrats have proposed increasing IRS funding by a massive $80 billion over the next decade. They also want to put the IRS in charge of Americans’ paid family and medical leave and to have unfettered access to both your personal and business bank accounts.

 

Why would we reward the IRS with greater power over sensitive taxpayer data after these scandals?

 

Republicans believe that taxes owed need to be paid, which is why we should get an accurate, independent estimate of the Treasury’s so-called ‘tax gap.’

 

Rep. Kelly and I, along with Sen. Crapo on the Senate Finance Committee, with full support by Republicans on this Committee, have introduced the Tax Gap Reform and IRS Enforcement Act.

 

Our bill protects taxpayers from IRS targeting based on their political or religious beliefs and closes loopholes that risk leaking private taxpayer returns. It also provides tools for the IRS to enforce the tax code in a smart, measured way.

 

And as a reminder, Republican tax reform closed loopholes and eliminated tax shelters, while also making it easier for Americans to do their taxes and receive their full refunds.

 

Unfortunately so far, Democrats in the House and Senate haven’t shown an interest yet in working with Republicans to protect taxpayer rights and privacy.

 

In fact, what they’re trying to do this week would do just the opposite.

 

And with that, I’d like to turn the meeting over to Mr. Kelly, andthank both our members and our witnesses here for participating.