President Joe Biden’s proposal for a radical expansion of IRS monitoring of Americans’ bank accounts would be stopped in its tracks under a proposal introduced by two Senate Republicans concerned about protecting privacy rights.
“What they’ve done is, they are weaponizing the IRS, they’re pushing many, many billions of dollars into that and they will be hiring tens of thousands of new agents,” Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) told The Epoch Times late on Sept. 23.
“So this is all about looking at everybody’s transactions and then hoping that perhaps they find something that’s not getting reported so they can come after you and get that income,” Boozman said.
The Biden proposal would drop the dollar threshold for transactions at which federal tax agents would be allowed to examine an individual’s private bank account to just $600 from the present $10,000.
Biden also wants to double the IRS workforce by adding 87,000 new government agents under the president’s “The American Families Plan Tax Compliance Agenda.”
Biden and Democratic allies in Congress claim the actions are needed to close the “tax gap,” the difference between what current federal law requires to be collected by the government and how much actually goes into the Treasury.
Boozman said Biden’s unprecedented explosion of new federal spending is the major reason behind Biden’s push to double the size of the IRS and give it virtually unlimited power to monitor how much income Americans earn and where they spend it, Boozman said.
“They want this new authority to look at transactions of $600 or more rather than $10,000 or more because they have a $3.5 trillion, or some say up to a $5 trillion bill, depending on how you score it, so they desperately need pay-fors. This shows how desperate they are,” he said.
Boozman said the $10,000 threshold was approved decades ago to enable the IRS to assist federal law enforcement efforts against drug cartels, terrorist groups, and organized crime rings.
“Today, $600 is such a small amount of money. To put this in perspective, this law was passed several decades ago, and when they did this, $10,000, if you tied inflation to it, it would be $50,000 today,” Boozman said.
“What they’ve done is taking what perhaps was a good idea at the time and weaponizing it such that they can get into your bank account.”
The Biden proposal requires all financial institutions, including banks and savings & loans, to report to the IRS every time an individual or family has a transaction of at least $600, with a breakdown of how much of the transaction was in cash, whether any of it came from an account in a foreign country, and if it represented a transfer from another account.
The new reporting requirement, which would take effect in 2022, would apply to both private individual and commercial business accounts owned by a taxpayer. The secretary of the Treasury would also receive broad new regulatory authority that would likely result in further expansion of invasive IRS actions.
In addition to his concerns about individual privacy rights, Boozman pointed to the likelihood of massive hacking of the mountain of new IRS records on millions of Americans’ finances and damaging compromises of account numbers and login information.
The IRS already has a major problem with maintaining the confidentiality of the tax records it has now. A fact sheet prepared by Boozman’s staff noted the recent leak from the federal tax agency of 15 years’ worth of the private tax records of thousands of wealthy Americans to ProPublica, a liberal nonprofit foundation.
“The ‘confidential tax records obtained by ProPublica’ were described, by the publication, as ‘a vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years.’ The FBI is investigating the leak for personal income and tax data,” the fact sheet observed.
Boozman also pointed to the massive hack of retirement, personnel, and compensation records for millions of federal career civil servants maintained by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management in 2015.
“Right now, all of these deposits, everybody’s records, are distributed all over the country, so it’s safer in that regard. It would be very difficult to get into everybody’s records,” Boozman said.
“But when you start pulling all of these records together and centralizing them, that’s also a recipe for a huge breach, which we have seen before, so there are all kinds of reasons to be adamantly opposed to this,” he said.
Boozman is co-sponsoring legislation with Sen. Mike Crapo (R-Idaho) known as the Tax Gap Reform and IRS Enforcement Act that would establish “guardrails” to prevent abuse by IRS employees of tax records. Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) has introduced the proposal in the House of Representatives.
“Under the guise of closing the ‘tax gap,’ Democrats are seeking to increase IRS funding by a massive $80 billion over the next 10 years to expand ‘enforcement and compliance activities’ at the IRS, and to create a ‘comprehensive financial account information reporting regime,’ under which gross inflows and outflows of taxpayers’ financial accounts are reported by financial intermediaries to the IRS, effectively acting as IRS agents,” Crapo said in a statement.
“In light of recent proposals to massively expand the IRS, with unprecedented amounts of mandatory funding, and the IRS’s continued abuses of taxpayer rights and privacy, any additional IRS funding and monitoring of Americans’ private finances must come with guardrails to help protect against abuses.
“This legislation places important guardrails around IRS funding to protect taxpayers’ rights and privacy.”