At Joint Subcommittee Hearing, Democrats Stand Up for American Taxpayers
Washington, D.C. (October 25, 2023)—Democratic Members of the Oversight and Accountability Committee’s Subcommittee on Government Operations and the Federal Workforce and the Subcommittee on Health Care and Financial Services called for action to build on Democrats’ historic work to help the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provide better service to taxpayers and enforce tax laws so that the wealthy and big corporations pay their fair share.
“Congress must continue to ensure the IRS has the funding and resources necessary to maintain its remarkable progress since the IRA became law. Make no mistake, further cuts will hamper the IRS’ ability to execute transformative change. I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to preserve IRS funding as we move forward from our current stalemate and get back to the business of funding the government’s operations,” said Ranking Member Mfume in his opening statement.
“When we need help with our taxes, and no one is available at the IRS to pick up the phone, blame a politician who slashed the IRS. When we want the IRS to make tax filing easier or our information more secure, but the IRS can’t invest in technology with adequate cybersecurity, blame a politician who slashed the IRS. When we pay our fair share of taxes and just want the IRS to make billionaires do the same, but they don’t have the staff or resources to do it, blame a politician who slashed the IRS,” said Ranking Member Porter in her opening statement.
The hearing included testimony from Danny Werfel, Commissioner, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and Jessica Lucas-Judy, Director, Strategic Issues, Government Accountability Office (GAO).
Congressional Democrats emphasized that historic investments made available in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) have and will continue to enhance taxpayer services and help IRS better serve the American people.
- Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton stressed that “when Democrats enacted the Inflation Reduction Act, we prioritized the taxpayer experience. We focused on building an IRS that can meet the needs of taxpayers.”
- Ranking Member Kweisi Mfume highlighted that “these IRA backed improvements achieved 87% peak levels of performance and service success as a result of their implementation” and added that “it was a dramatic increase from the previous tax filing year alone. IRS answered 6.5 million more calls than last year cutting the wait times down by 86%, which I think is phenomenal. It served more than 140,000 additional taxpayers and cleared the backlog of unprocessed 2022 individual tax returns with no errors.”
- Committee on Oversight and Accountability Ranking Member Jamie Raskin explained that “the implementation of the IRA shows that providing adequate resources to the IRS dramatically improves services to our people and the effectiveness of the overall mission. In the 2023 filing season, IRA investments allowed the IRS to create and adopt digital tools to process tax returns more efficiently. The agency greatly improved in-person service, service over the telephone, and online customer service.”
Congressional Democrats underscored how Republican misinformation and attacks against the IRS undermines taxpayers.
- Rep. Maxwell Alejandro Frost stressed that “Republicans have spent more than a decade working to kneecap the IRS through funding cut after funding cut. At the same time, Congress has tasked the agency with enforcing one of the most complex tax codes in the world on a growing population with increasing wealth inequality.”
- Rep. Gerald E. Connolly highlighted that “the very people who are here complaining about customer service don’t want to mention that many of them or their predecessors voted for stringent cuts in the IRS.”
- Rep. Jasmine Crockett stressed the value of adequately funding the IRS. When she asked Commissioner Werfel whether cuts to IRS hamstring the agency, he confirmed that in contemporary America, we have “more population, more filers, more changes to the tax code, and more complexity in how the economy operates,” and added “we have to invest and be ready to be effective tax administrators as the world changes. That’s why it’s important to keep our funding at pace.”
Congressional Democrats are committed to adequately funding IRS so it can address America’s two-tiered tax system.
- In response to a question from Rep. Summer Lee about IRS’s efforts to ensure equity is a priority at the agency, Commissioner Werfel testified that: “Our approach to case selection for refundable credits was biased and we must change it. We’ve taken the immediate step of significantly reducing the number of audits of refundable credits and shifting that emphasis to high-end tax evasion, and we’ve also begun making changes to our case selection algorithms to refundable credits to promote equity among all demographics.” Commissioner Werfel stated further, “I am very motivated and very inspired to get this right.”
- Ranking Member Jamie Raskin explained: “The U.S. tax system is disproportionately targeting lower income taxpayers and giving preferential treatment to the wealthiest filers. When we passed the Inflation Reduction Act, it provided the IRS with resources to make certain that billionaires and large corporations would pay their fair share.”
- Ranking Member Katie Porter highlighted: “We can support and invest in the IRS, whose mission is to do right by the taxpayers and who we can hold accountable for delivering a free, low cost, mistake-free option. Or we can stand with special interests, who want to see an underperforming IRS so that they can profit to the tune of billions of dollars off taxpayers. I know where I stand.”