IRS could increase security because of recent threats

Morning In America

(NewsNation) — After fielding a number of threats, the Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday that it will conduct a large-scale review of safety at its facilities.

In particular, the agency will evaluate possibly increasing security outside IRS buildings and at entrances; improving lighting outside the buildings; and increasing the number of restricted areas

.Last week, President Joe Biden signed into law climate, health care and tax legislation called the Inflation Reduction Act that gives the IRS $80 billion over 10 years to boost staffing numbers and enforcement on wealthy Americans and big businesses.

That provision brought pushback from some Republicans though, who claimed the IRS would target lower and middle-income Americans, despite Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen specifically directing the agency to only focus on high earners.

Department of the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen listens to lawmakers as she testifies during a Senate Finance Committee hearing to examine President Joe Biden’s proposed budget request for fiscal year 2023, on Capitol Hill, Tuesday, June 7, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Getting audited is already rare for most people: only one out of every 250 tax returns gets audited, meaning the average person has less than a 1% chance of being audited, according to H&R Block.

In addition, the employees expected to be hired with the $80 billion will be mainly filling existing vacant positions as enforcement staffing has fallen by 30% since 2010, and the agency has lost about 50,000 agents over five years because of attrition.

Still, misinformation over the boost in IRS funding spread online, especially after a search warrant was executed on President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Comments from some Republican lawmakers led to threatening memes and messages posted on social media calling for violence.

In response, the commissioner of the IRS said risk assessments will be conducted at all 600 IRS facilities across the country.

“For me this is personal. I’ll continue to make every effort to dispel any lingering misperceptions about our work,”  Chuck Rettig, IRS commissioner, said in a Tuesday letter to employees. “And I will continue to advocate for your safety in every venue where I have an audience.”

The Washington Post first reported on the letter the commissioner sent to employees.

“IRS public servants work professionally and diligently every day on behalf of the American people. We take threats seriously and their safety is a top priority,” Yellen said on Twitter.

The risk assessment at IRS buildings marks the first one done since the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings  of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.

Members of the IRS have been vocal about their fears and worries regarding their safety.

“IRS employees are certainly very hard working and honest, they do the business of funding the government. They’re saying they don’t deserve to be treated as the enemy of the government,” Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said. “The rhetoric we’re hearing now is dangerous.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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