American College of Tax Counsel Condemns False Statements on IRS Funding

copy of letter sent to Congressional leaders by American College of Tax Counsel, page one

Page One of Letter to Congressional Leaders

copy of letter sent to Congressional leaders by American College of Tax Counsel, page two

Page Two of Letter to Congressional Leaders

Letter to Congressional leaders expresses concern about recent comments by public figures, including members of Congress, regarding funding provided to the IRS.

ROCHESTER, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES, August 22, 2022 / -- The American College of Tax Counsel (the “College”) announces that on August 22, 2022, the College sent a letter to the leadership of both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate to express concern regarding recent statements made by public figures, including members of Congress, falsely suggesting that the recently enacted Inflation Reduction Act will arm thousands of IRS agents and militarize tax administration. The College believes that the use of vitriolic hyperbole regarding the IRS undermines fair and effective tax administration and puts the 80,000 dedicated IRS employees at physical risk. The College’s letter asks the Congressional leaders to urge their members and others in the public arena to cease making such false and misleading statements.

Text of Letter to Congressional Leaders

"Dear Congressional Leaders,

The American College of Tax Counsel (“ACTC” or the “College”) writes to express its concern regarding recent comments by public figures, including members of Congress, regarding the funding provided to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS") in the Inflation Reduction Act (“IRA”). ACTC is a nonprofit professional association of tax lawyers in private law firms and in-house legal departments, on the bench, in federal and state government, and in academia. Membership in the College is by invitation only to lawyers who have demonstrated a high standard of excellence and ethical conduct in the practice of tax law. Since its founding in 1981, ACTC has provided support across numerous platforms for fair and effective tax administration. This letter was unanimously approved by the College’s Board of Regents.

In the past few weeks, Congress passed and President Biden signed into law the IRA, which provides much-needed supplemental funding over the next decade to the IRS to support its mission to serve American taxpayers. ACTC has a long tradition of supporting adequate funding for the IRS. We are grateful to Congress for providing increased funding to modernize the agency as part of the IRA. For years, the services taxpayers expect have become largely unavailable while the agency has worked with outmoded systems. Over this same period, Congress tasked the agency with administering a growing number of tax expenditure programs, including multiple rounds of pandemic-related economic relief and a central role in administration of complex federal programs such as the Affordable Care Act. Our tax system – which depends on voluntary compliance – is essential to the American way of life, both in providing a broad range of socioeconomic benefits and in raising the funds needed for government operations. By providing much needed supplemental funding that can be used over the next decade to enhance taxpayer service and enforcement programs, Congress has taken an important step that will provide significant benefits to the American people.

Since the enactment of the IRA, however, some members of Congress and other public figures have made statements falsely suggesting that the IRA will create a “shadow army” of IRS agents with loaded “AK-15s” who will target small businesses and middle-income families. The New York Times reported last week that certain commentators have suggested the new funding will result in “weaponizing” the agency with agents “trained to kill Americans.” In fact, the approximately 2,000 Special Agents of the IRS Criminal Investigation Division are sworn federal law enforcement officers who are lawfully authorized to carry weapons (not assault weapons). IRS Special Agents have appropriately carried out this responsibility for over 100 years. The job description and job series of IRS Special Agents is consistent with the job descriptions for other federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, DEA and the U.S. Secret Service. In the past year, IRS Special Agents played a key role in the largest ever cryptocurrency seizure by the federal government – recovering more than $3.6 billion in stolen funds – and they are actively supporting our nation’s efforts to impose sanctions on Russia.

Many members of ACTC have spent their careers representing American taxpayers before the IRS. We know from first-hand experience that the supplemental funding provided by the IRA will serve to help our clients in receiving better service from the IRS, greatly reducing the burdens imposed on all taxpayers in dealing with an understaffed and overburdened agency. False and misleading comments about a militarized IRS do great damage to tax administration. Our national defense, Social Security, Medicare, food and drug regulation, disease prevention, medical research, and every other government program on which we depend require the work of the IRS and its support by the American people. Worse, such comments put at physical risk the 80,000 hardworking employees at the IRS who carry out the complex responsibilities of taxpayer service and fair and equitable tax administration. In the current polarized political environment, such comments are dangerous.

We respectfully ask you to urge your members to cease making statements that falsely predict that the IRS will engage in violent tax enforcement, and we ask the same of anyone in the public arena. False, misleading, and vitriolic comments that portray the IRS as an armed militia risk a treacherous and violent reaction, and they must stop now."

About the American College of Tax Counsel

The American College of Tax Counsel, founded in 1981, is a nonprofit association of tax lawyers in private practice, in law school teaching positions, and in government, who are recognized for their excellence in tax practice and their substantial contributions and commitment to the profession. One of the chief purposes of the College is to provide a mechanism for input by tax attorneys into the development of U.S. tax laws and policy. The College has for many years and over numerous platforms advocated for sound, fair and effective tax administration.

Pamela Lyons
American College of Tax Counsel
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