US tax collector prepares new agents to use ‘deadly force’
The US tax authority has sparked an uproar after posting a job offer warning that new agents must be prepared to wield “deadly force” against suspects, amid heightened concerns about heavy-handed tactics by the IRS as it seeks to hire thousands of new enforcers.
An IRS job form seeking ‘Criminal Investigation Special Agents’ was briefly taken offline and edited on Wednesday after its language stoked outrage on social media, according to Fox News and other outlets. Though a previous version of the page (archived August 10) noted that “major duties” of the job would include carrying a firearm and being “willing to use deadly force, if necessary,” the listingvisible on Thursday evening no longer contains that requirement.
Journalist Ford Fischer was among the first to note the mention of ‘deadly force’ in a series of tweets on Wednesday. Less than 24 hours later the agency had taken down the notice, removed the offending bullet-point and reuploaded it.
“The IRS Criminal Investigation special agent job announcement continues to be open on USAJobs and has not [been]/was not taken down,” an IRS spokesperson told Fox Business, but offered no explanation for the apparent edit.
Republicans and conservative critics of US President Joe Biden have sounded the alarm in recent days about growing IRS authority, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-California) alleging that Democrats are looking to build an “army” of federal tax officers through a provision in the yet-to-be-signed Inflation Reduction Act.
“Do you make $75,000 or less?” he asked in a tweet, adding “Democrats’ new army of 87,000 IRS agents will be coming for you – with 710,000 new audits for Americans who earn less than $75k.”
Libertarian-leaning Republican Thomas Massie (Kentucky) noted the controversial job listing in a social media post, also claiming the IRS is seeking to add “tens of thousands” of agents to its ranks and warning that they would be exempt from a Democrat-led push to ban AR-15 rifles.
However, while detractors have argued the measure will dramatically expand the total force of IRS agents – some suggesting they would be unleashed on small business owners across the country – a Treasury Department official reached by Time denied the charge.
“It is wholly inaccurate to describe any of these resources as being about increasing audit scrutiny of the middle class or small businesses,” the official said.
Time went on to note that while the Inflation Reduction Act does authorize some $78 billion for the IRS over the next 10 years, those funds will “cover a wide range of positions,” only some of which will be tax enforcement agents. Moreover, many of the new employees would fill jobs currently held by people who are set to retire, meaning the IRS could see up to 30,000 additional workers over its current staff, well below the 87,000 repeatedly claimed by conservative critics.
The tax authority currently has around 78,000 employees overall, according to former IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who noted the total figure had dropped from nearly 100,000 workers in 2013.