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What the Inflation Reduction Act really says about IRS funding

The Inflation Reduction Act is 755 pages long. But some are taking a close look at what it says about IRS funding.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Some Republicans are claiming that due to the Inflation Reduction Act, the IRS will get another 87,000 agents.

This meme has been going around social media saying because of this, “The IRS will have more staff than the Pentagon, State Department, FBI, & Border Patrol combined.”

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WCNC Charlotte's VERIFY team has received multiple questions about this claim and went to the experts for the answers. 

SOURCES

First, the 755-page Inflation Reduction Act only has five pages that deal directly with the IRS. 

Credit: Turning Point USA Instagram

The act includes roughly $78 billion for the IRS to be phased in over 10 years. The money is set to go towards things like taxpayer services, collecting owed taxes, conducting criminal investigations, and more. It never specifically states that the money will be used to hire 87,000 new agents.

So where did that number come from? A Treasury Department report from May 2021 estimated an investment like this would enable the agency to hire roughly 87,000 employees by 2031.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted that these new IRS agents will be tasked with auditing Americans who earn less than $75,000.

However, in a letter to members of the Senate, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig says, “Our investment of these enforcement resources is designed around the Department of the Treasury's directive that audit rates will not rise relative to recent years for households making under $400,000.”

Rettig says resources will be invested in IT systems that will allow the department to better serve all taxpayers, and that adding these services will actually mean taxpayers will see a lower likelihood of audits. 

Right now it’s unknown just how exactly the $78 billion will be spent.

So let’s take a look at what that meme claims.

If the IRS were to hire 87,000 new agents would that be more staff than all the other departments combined?

Here’s a look at how many staff members each department has:

  • FBI: 35,000 
  • Pentagon: 27,000
  • State Department: 69,000 
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection: 64,272, which includes 19,536 Border Patrol agents 
  • IRS currently: 78,661

Because Border Patrol is not a separate employer, we looked at all of U.S. Customs and Border Protection staff. With that in mind, the IRS would not have more staff than the other groups combined.

If you looked just at Border Patrol agents instead of the agency as a whole, then yes, if the IRS added 87,000 new agents, this meme would be correct.

Contact Meghan Bragg at mbragg@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

VERIFY is dedicated to helping the public distinguish between true and false information. The VERIFY team, with help from questions submitted by the audience, tracks the spread of stories or claims that need clarification or correction. Have something you want VERIFIED? Text us at 704-329-3600 or visit VERIFY.

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