Republicans are concerned that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) could return, under a Joe Biden administration, to the sort of partisan practices that were seen during the administration of Barack Obama, Fox News reports.
Prompting this concern has been a push by House Democrats, in particular, to expand IRS funding by $12.1 billion. $5.2 bill of that extra money would go to “enforcement activities.” Congressional Democrats are selling this as a way to increase “tax fairness.”
The bill would be in line with what Jared Bernstein, whom Biden has picked to serve on the Council on Economic Advisers, said in October, that is, that Biden would seek “significant increases in IRS enforcement and auditing, particularly for those with complex business structures.”
As Fox reports, what this all brings to mind is what the IRS did when Obama was president.
It was in May of 2013 that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a report stating that “the IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their policy positions instead of indications of potential political campaign intervention.”
Roughly two years later, in 2015, the Senate Finance Committee released a report singling out Lois Lerner, who led the IRS’s Exempt Organization Unit from 2010 to 2013, the time during which these “inappropriate criteria” were used. That report stated that evidence had been found that “Lerner’s personal political views directly resulted in disparate treatment for applicants affiliated with Tea Party and other conservative causes.”
Then, two years after that, in October of 2017, the IRS issued a “sincere apology” for its mistreatment of Tea Party groups. The apology was part of a settlement reached by the Trump administration.
The worry now, though, is that the sort of thing that took place under Obama could return with a Biden presidency.
For its report, Fox interviewed Grover Norquist, the president of Americans for Tax Reform. According to Norquist, there will be a “tremendous politicization of the IRS during a Biden administration.”
“There will be an effort to bulk up and harass, first, small businesses, then they will go after political groups,” he said, noting that “Democrats weren’t looking to throw the money into the IRS when Trump was president.”
Jenny Beth Martin, the honorary chairwoman of Tea Party Patriots Action, pointed out to Fox that there is no reason to think that the IRS’s settlement will deter future behavior as the money “didn’t even come out of their budget.”
If Biden does go on to become the next president, then this is certainly something to keep an eye on.