Congress has cut the I.R.S.’s budget 20 percent since 2010. That makes it hard for the agency to help Americans file their taxes; it answered fewer than one in 10 calls for help during the 2021 filing season.
The funding shortage also makes it difficult for the agency to collect what the government is owed. The tax gap — the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid — is about 15 percent of all taxes.
The new funding will help address the shortcomings by letting the agency update its systems and hire more people. In total, the I.R.S. plans to recruit 87,000 employees. Many of those new hires will fill jobs left behind by retirees in the coming years, but its work force will expand overall to let it take on more duties in auditing, processing and customer service.
Republicans have cited the planned hires to amplify conspiracy theories about armed I.R.S. agents coming after law-abiding Americans. It’s true that some agents who conduct criminal investigations can be armed, like other law enforcement officials. But only 1 percent of new hires will be in such jobs, which focus on more serious financial crimes, according to the Treasury.
Republicans have also raised concerns that the I.R.S. will use the extra funds to go after conservative groups. The agency did target some right-wing organizations seeking tax-exempt status in the 2010s, but it also used similar tactics against progressive groups.
Against tax cheats
With the additional resources, the I.R.S. does plan to crack down on people and businesses who don’t pay the taxes they owe.