For the GOP and Oregon's Two Most-Junior Congresspeople, Pistol Packin' IRS Agents Are Top Priority | The Source Weekly - Bend, Oregon

For the GOP and Oregon's Two Most-Junior Congresspeople, Pistol Packin' IRS Agents Are Top Priority

The Internal Revenue Service has hired more than 5,000 new agents to improve its aging technology

This next week, Americans will begin that annual task of filing their taxes. This year, unlike the past several, that task will be met with a little more help on the other end. Due to funding secured last year through the Inflation Reduction Act, the Internal Revenue Service has already hired more than 5,000 new customer service agents and begun to improve its aging technology. That's just the start of a plan to hire some 87,000 auditors to ensure that people – and companies – are paying their fair share in taxes.

But to hear it from the new majority in the U.S. House, the conversation around the IRS should be less about ensuring entities pay their fair share and more about the boogeyman of the pistol packin' IRS agent empowered to come for your money.

The irony is almost too much to bear. After a political season in which there were many contentious issues that again divided our nation, Republicans opted to defund the IRS as their first order of business.

Among the ironies:

-We may not be able to see much movement around gun safety among certain factions of our federal government, but when it comes to agents with the IRS, it was Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL1) who introduced the "Disarm the IRS" bill last year. Had that bill gone anywhere, the small faction of the IRS that engages in criminal financial investigations would not have been able to buy any more ammo. If there's anything worse than a bad guy with a gun, it surely must be a bad IRS agent coming to ensure that law and order is upheld, right?

Another irony:

-We may be facing a debt ceiling and some $31 trillion in United States debt, but when it comes to bringing in the funds that might help to lower that debt by way of taxpayers paying their fair share, it was the new House Republican majority that, among its first orders of business, sought to roll back funding.

And not to be outdone:

-Some factions of the GOP want to disband the IRS all together and implement a federal sales tax of anywhere from 23 to 30% for all goods. By some estimates, this will significantly raise costs for everyone but the top 5% of earners.

It would all be hilarious if this wasn't actually our country's financial system being dismantled.

Sadly, Oregon's two most-junior House representatives – Cliff Bentz (R-OR2) and Lori Chavez-Deremer (R-OR5) are playing right along, voting in favor of rolling back that funding allocated under the Inflation Reduction Act.

As journalists and watchdogs, we have other issues. Right now, it's been close to three years since we've been able to see the financial reporting of nonprofit entities in our community. We'd like to say that every hospital and activist organization in our community is on the up-and-up and is making good use of the tax-free funds provided to them by local people—but without the ability to view financial reporting documents that are submitted and then processed by the IRS, we can't know what those records entail. The IRS backlog is, according to the agency, directly tied to funding. It needs more agents to process them.

We can only assume, by the way they vote, that our representatives in Congress are perfectly fine with this. Constituents should ask them why. If the notion of the scary desk-jockey IRS agent showing up at your house packin' a pistol seems like a ridiculous notion, it's because it is. However, having Oregon representatives unwilling to commit to financial responsibility for all is far more frightening.

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