Despite the reassurances of leftist pundits and politicians, many critics are skeptical that a massively expanded IRS will only be concerned with collecting unpaid taxes from high-income Americans and large corporations.
For his part, U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) cited the agency’s so-called Adrian Project as evidence that IRS agents are already targeting small businesses with threats and intimidation tactics.
Using a clip of one training exercise to back up his concerns, Massie warned Americans that tax collectors will be far more capable of confronting and potentially arresting struggling taxpayers now that the IRS has secured funding for roughly 87,000 new agents.
In his recent statement, the Kentucky Republican wrote: “Notice the scenario in this IRS recruiting program is ‘taking down a landscape owner who failed to properly report how he paid for his vehicles,’ not ‘taking down a billionaire who uses the corporate jet for private trips.”
As the video, which was recorded during a training exercise in Utah, shows, students were asked to portray armed IRS agents taking down a landscaper.
The IRS apparently does not see any cause for alarm and has publicly described the Adrian Project as a program meant to attract recruits while they are still in college.
“For years, IRS Criminal Investigation field offices have brought the Adrian Project to college and university campuses nationwide,” the agency’s website explains.
Students who participate in these exercises “participate in a day-long simulation of a mock criminal investigation” and are “‘sworn in’ as special agents in the morning and wear IRS protective vests, use handcuffs, toy guns and radios to communicate with their counterpart agents on the case.”
The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act includes a massive boost in IRS funding, which is expected to roughly double the size of the agency’s workforce over the next decade.
We should be hiring 87,000 border patrol officers, not IRS agents.
— Sen. Marsha Blackburn (@MarshaBlackburn) August 24, 2022
Nevertheless, the Biden administration and other supporters of the bill say that the new agents will be strictly tasked with going after wealthy Americans and big businesses.
In a letter addressed to the U.S. Senate, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig insisted that the additional funding is “absolutely not about increasing audit scrutiny on small businesses or middle-income Americans,” but there are plenty of skeptics who do not believe him.
As Joe Hinchman of the National Taxpayers Union Foundation explained earlier this month: “We’ve seen this play out before. … The IRS says ‘We’re going after the rich,’ but when you’re trying to raise that much money, the rich can only get you so far.”