IRS Issues Clarification, Only Small Fraction of 5,582 New Tax Enforcers Hired in 2024 Will Carry Guns

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), the watchdog overseeing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), has provided clarification on the agency’s hiring plans for the 2024 fiscal year.

In an April 3 report detailing how the IRS is allocating its $78 billion funding boost, TIGTA revealed that the IRS is set to hire 5,582 tax enforcers this year.

However, the watchdog dismissed claims that the agency is hiring “87,000-armed enforcement agents,” noting that only a small portion of the new hires will be authorized to carry firearms.

The IRS received a substantial funding increase of nearly $79.4 billion through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, although Congress later clawed back around $1.4 billion.

Despite this reduction, the cash infusion still represented a roughly 600-percent increase over the agency’s previous year’s budget.

Republicans had expressed concerns that the funds would be used to hire an “army” of tax enforcers targeting ordinary Americans.

In response to these claims, the Biden administration insisted that audits would not increase for Americans earning less than $400,000 annually.

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However, TIGTA cautioned that this promise might be challenging to fulfill, as the IRS uses outdated income thresholds and lacks a reliable method to identify taxpayers meeting the $400,000 criterion.

TIGTA’s report sheds light on the IRS’s hiring targets across three staffing categories: revenue officers, revenue agents, and special agents.

The agency aims to hire 517 revenue officers, 4,663 revenue agents, and 402 special agents in the criminal division this fiscal year. By the end of September, the IRS expects to have a total of 18,328 tax enforcement staff members.

The watchdog emphasized that the only armed enforcement personnel employed by the IRS are special agents in the Criminal Investigation Division, who investigate potential criminal activity related to tax crimes. These special agents are authorized to carry guns and use lethal force when necessary.

As of the end of the 2023 fiscal year, the IRS’s total staffing levels stood at 89,767, an increase of approximately 10,700 compared to the previous year.

The agency plans to further expand its workforce to 105,188 by the end of the 2025 fiscal year, primarily due to the supplemental funding boost. As of December 31, 2023, the IRS had spent around $1.8 billion of the new funding on labor costs.

In September 2023, the IRS announced a “sea change” in its operations, including a “sweeping, historic” tax enforcement crackdown aimed at increasing tax collections.

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The agency plans to leverage cutting-edge technologies, such as artificial intelligence, to help compliance teams better detect tax evasion and identify compliance loopholes.