Last night, the House adopted an amendment to H.R. 5016, the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act for 2015 introduced by Congressman Bill Huizenga (MI-02) that cut over $788 million from the IRS Enforcement Budget. The amendment was introduced as a response to the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of Americans based on their political beliefs, as well as, the targeting of adoptive families across the nation. When combined with the $341 million in cuts made by the underlying bill, the total reduction to the IRS budget would exceed $1 billion.
Remarks as prepared:
The IRS has been targeting American taxpayers based on their political beliefs for the past four or five years. During this period, a culture of shading the truth was fostered and developed by directors and administrators throughout the IRS. Now, this culture within the IRS has grown into one of stonewalling, double talk, and mistrust.
It is up to Congress to use the power of the purse to rein in the IRS and force them to conduct their analysis in an unbiased manner. This is our constitutional tool. The IRS has proven itself to be unable to do so which is why I am introducing this amendment that cuts more than $788 million from the IRS budget. With the combined cuts in the underlying bill of $341 million, this will approximately cut the IRS budget by 10% from its current funding levels.
The underlying legislation takes a good step in the right direction, and many of the amendments do the same, but I do not believe this goes far enough. We need to keep in mind that the IRS is one of the most feared agencies within the federal government. They can freeze bank accounts, garnish wages, and seize assets with a flick of the pen. Congress needs to utilize the power of the purse, our constitutional tool and responsibility I might add, to send the IRS a message and put an end to this new found business as usual.
It is up to Congress to prevent the IRS from ever slipping back into its targeting practices. The best way to do that is to force the IRS to consolidate its resources and prioritize. Congress itself has been forced to do this. Our own offices have been forced to do this and there is no reason the IRS cannot follow suit. We cannot allow the IRS to be used as a political weapon.
It doesn't matter if an American's political views are to the left of the spectrum, to the right of the spectrum, or somewhere in between. The IRS is one of the most powerful agencies that we have and for them to be injected into this process as a political weapon is simply wrong.
Political targeting is only a part of the story. The 2012 Taxpayer Advocate Service's Report found that 69% of individuals who claimed the adoption tax credit were audited by the IRS, while only 1.5% of credits claimed were disallowed.
The Taxpayer Advocate Service's and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) have both noted that the adoption credit claims represent less than one-tenth of one percent of all individual returns for the 2011 filing season. By comparison, the IRS spent approximately 3.5% of its staff days on initial review and correspondence audit of adoption credit claims.
In essence, the IRS spent over 35 times the amount of work hours investigating adoptive parents then compared to other tax filers.
West Michigan is blessed to have one of the highest adoption rates in the entire nation. Hardworking families, who want to bring another into their home, should not have to be burdened by the echoing footsteps of the tax man.
Clearly, the IRS has too much time on its hands and not enough focus. The recklessness with which the IRS is acting by targeting Americans for their political views or whether they have adopted a child is simply wrong and must be stopped immediately.