Washington D.C. – Political ads that deliberately lie about the IRS and its employees are a shameful new ploy that is misleading voters about their own government and endangering hard-working civil servants, said Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union.
“House and Senate candidates across the country are using deceit and fear to try and win elections,” Reardon said. “For the safety of the IRS workforce, I call on these candidates and political committees to take down their ads that misrepresent IRS employees and their role in our democracy.”
Even before the campaign attacks ramped up, NTEU requested, and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig ordered, a full review of security protocols at IRS worksites around the country because of the increasingly hostile rhetoric about the IRS and its mission. NTEU members who work for the IRS say they are afraid to identify themselves as IRS employees and are taking extra precautions themselves, such as hiding their badges when they leave the work site. The Department of Homeland Security this summer issued a National Terrorism Advisory bulletin that listed government facilities and personnel as potential targets of "domestic violent extremists."
The hostility escalated during the debate over the Inflation Reduction Act, when critics claimed falsely that the agency would hire 87,000 new armed agents to terrorize taxpayers. While multiple organizations, including NTEU, the administration and numerous media outlets debunked the claims, the disinformation persisted to the point is has now become a centerpiece of too many political campaigns.
"It’s completely fair to have an honest debate about the size of government and tax policy, but these political ads do not do that. Instead, they blatantly misrepresent how IRS employees do their jobs as public employees who serve our nation’s taxpayers. In today’s epidemic of political violence, I’m concerned about the safety of the employees we represent,” Reardon said.
After a decade of budget cuts that slashed the workforce, hampered customer service, diminished enforcement and caused delays in processing tax returns, the Inflation Reduction Act provided more than $79 billion for the IRS to rebuild over the next 10 years. Treasury officials have already said the initial focus will be to upgrade antiquated computer systems and improve customer service, including hiring more personnel to answer phone calls from taxpayers and fully staff in-person Taxpayer Assistance Centers around the country. They’ve also said the new funding will not be used to increase the rate at which audits are performed on households with less than $400,000 in annual income.
The IRS predicts it will lose more than 50,000 employees over the next six years to regular retirement and attrition, so much of the new hiring envisioned over that time will be to replace existing workers, which is far from “doubling” the agency, as some have claimed.
“Honest taxpayers should be thrilled to hear that the IRS will be given the resources and personnel needed to help them file their taxes accurately and receive their refunds quickly,” Reardon said. “For those intent on avoiding their tax obligation, a fully staffed IRS is much more likely to hold you accountable and collect the revenue that is rightfully owed.”
Reardon added, “The IRS collects 95 percent of the revenue that funds our national defense, cares for our veterans, facilitates lifesaving medical breakthroughs and many other services the American people depend on every day.”
NTEU represents federal employees in 34 federal agencies and offices, including the IRS.