IRS Appears To Improve Protection After Threats Over $80 Billion Funding
The US Internal Revenue Service is exploring ways to bolster protections at its facilities after staff began receiving threats amid an intense Republican response of more than $80 billion in new funding for the agency.
Charles Rettig, the Internal Revenue Service commissioner, wrote to employees on Tuesday to announce the assessment and urged them to report any threats or concerns to managers. The IRS will look into perimeter security, entry security and outdoor lighting in its offices, he added.
Rettig’s email comes as Republicans turn to the IRS for additional funding it received as part of the $700 billion climate, tax and health care bill that President Joe Biden signed earlier this month. Some have cited conspiracy theories that the money would be used to attack low-income citizens and political opponents of the Democrats.
Rettig told staff: “In recent days there has been a plethora of misinformation and false messages on social media, some involving threats to the IRS and its employees. We are aware of these reports and I want to assure you that your safety is and will remain my top priority.”
He added: “We are conducting a comprehensive review of existing safety and security measures. This includes conducting risk assessments based on data-driven decisions given the current environment and monitoring perimeter security, restricted areas, outdoor lighting, security around entrances to our facilities and other different types of security.
Democrats wanted the additional funding to help reduce tax evasion and increase the country’s tax revenues. The money, of which $45 billion will be spent on enforcement, will be used to increase staffing levels and improve the department’s technology.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has instructed Rettig not to use the additional funds to increase the number of audits for households earning less than $400,000 a year.
But this hasn’t stopped a deluge of criticism from Republicans who accused the Biden administration of targeting lower-income households and small businesses.
Some senior Republicans have even suggested that the agency could use force. Chuck Grassley, the Republican senator from Iowa, told Fox News earlier this month, “Will they have a strike force going in with AK-15s already loaded to shoot some small business owner in Iowa?”
Rettig, who was nominated to his post by former President Donald Trump, has played a personal role in advocating for more funding for the IRS. As members of Congress prepared to vote on the bill, he sent them a letter saying the agency is “constantly struggling to obtain adequate resources to fulfill its important mission.”