Danny Werfel, the IRS Commissioner sworn in on April 4, admitted Thursday before a House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee hearing that the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigations unit would add extra armed workers but clarified that this division does not perform audits.
To counter Republican claims that the IRS intends to construct an “army” of 87,000 armed agents with the $80 billion in extra funds, Werfel split hairs and said that none of the newly armed employees would be auditors. They will have a different title.
When asked how many armed revenue agents would be hired to conduct further audits of high-net-worth individuals and corporations, Werfel said, “None, sir.”
Later, though, he noted that the numbers Republican Representative Adrian Smith presented seemed “about right.”
“Our Criminal Investigation Division does not conduct audits,” Werfel clarified. They look into serious problems like tax evasion and fraud. They usually have weapons with them when they risk their lives.
The 87,000 figure touted by Republicans on social media originated from a Treasury Department assessment from May 2021 that said additional financing might result in 86,852 extra employees over a decade.
According to the Treasury, the additional hires are meant to compensate for the loss of retirees over the next decade. A Reuters Fact Check found that the Criminal Investigation division employs 2,100 special agents (roughly 3% of the agency’s workforce).
While testifying before a congressional subcommittee in March on the “weaponization” of government, Werfel refused to answer Republican questions about a House Oversight Committee investigation into the business dealings of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
Werfel stated that he could not discuss specific taxpayer issues due to legal restrictions.
He claimed that the IRS had a “strong” tax season by providing better service and shorter wait times for taxpayers calling in, but he did not disclose the amount of money the agency took in.