Biden's IRS went after the poor in 2022, study finds

January 10, 2023

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeted the poorest Americans in 2022, according to a new study. 

Despite President Biden's rhetoric about making the wealthy pay their "fair share," Americans in the lowest tax bracket were roughly as likely to be audited as millionaires, the study found.

The study is sure to cause new concerns about the purpose of an $80 billion IRS expansion that Biden signed into law last year.

IRS targeted the poor

The poorest Americans were five times more likely than the average taxpayer to be audited, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University found.

A millionaire had a roughly 2.8 percent chance of being audited. 

While that was the highest rate for any tax bracket, the study noted that the IRS has come to rely on asking for information by mail, rather than in-person, and that this method makes poor people "easy marks in an era when IRS...doesn’t have the resources to assist taxpayers or answer their questions."

If mail audits are discounted, the odds of a millionaire being audited by a revenue agent falls to 1.1 percent, which is lower than the 1.27 percent audit rate for poor Americans receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Biden responds

The number of audits of millionaires has fallen from 40,965 to 11,331 between 2010 and 2020, the study said, citing a lack of funding for the staff necessary.

The White House claimed vindication over the study, saying Biden's Inflation Reduction Act would enable the IRS to go after wealthy tax dodgers.

"President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which is only beginning to build enforcement for wealthy Americans, will finally force wealthy tax cheats to pay their fair share while making it easier for working Americans to get their tax refunds," a spokesperson said.

Republicans promise action

Despite Biden's rhetoric, funding for another 87,000 IRS agents has led to fears of a crackdown on poor and middle-class taxpayers who are already getting squeezed by inflation.

The IRS recently paused a push to begin targeting Venmo transactions larger than $600 amid concerns with the implementation.

As their first action since taking the majority, House Republicans moved Monday night to vote on a bill slashing Biden's IRS expansion by $72 billion.

"Our bill leaves in place funding for customer service and IT improvements because IRS is in desperate need of reform, but it protects middle-class families from audits they cannot afford," Republican Adrian Smith, (R-Ne.), one of the bill's sponsors, said.

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