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Armstrong denounces IRS hiring surge as 'accounting gimmick'

During a visit to Dickinson on Thursday, Congressman Kelly Armstrong floated a theory that Democrats may have had ulterior motives in passing a bill to fund the hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents.

Kelly Armstrong
Rep. Kelly Armstrong speaks with local business owners at the Holiday Inn Express in Dickinson on Oct. 6.
Jason O'Day / The Dickinson Press
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DICKINSON — During a panel discussion on oil production on Oct. 6, Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) floated a theory about the Inflation Reduction Act. The $739 billion spending package included $80 billion in supplemental funding to the Internal Revenue Service over the next decade, appropriated for the tax collection bureaucracy to hire 87,000 new agents.

Many conservative critics, such as House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, have condemned it as a scheme for a massive army of new tax collectors who will hound citizens over the smallest potential reporting discrepancies. In an article defending the new IRS funding, CNBC stated that this is not the case, asserting that the agency will lose around 50,000 of its current 78,661 member full-time staff. The report cited 2021 congressional testimony from IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig.

In Dickinson, Armstrong highlighted that the narrative does not explain the $80 billion expenditure, noting that replacing retirees does not require new discretionary spending, particularly not of such scale. Rettig’s testimony did not directly address how the bill's funding of 37,000 additional agents addresses any purported retiring.

Armstrong denounced the prevailing narrative as an “accounting gimmick.” Procedural rules of the Congress require that fiscal legislation meet certain standards of deficit neutrality judged by the Congressional Budget Office.

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“I don’t know how you need (more) money to replace existing people. So whenever they say that it’s a strawman. The real issue with the 87,000 IRS agents is it artificially lowered the cost of the bill,” Armstrong claimed.

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He further explained that he believes Democrats on Capitol Hill engaged in a ploy to maximize the amount of money they add to the U.S. National Debt, which is currently at $31.1 trillion and rising. He added that the CBO scores every bill, and the number of tax collecting bureaucrats is a factor in determining said score.

“They went with whatever they thought was the highest number they could get for every Democrat to vote for it. That’s the number they needed. I don’t know this, but I know this,” Armstrong said. “Either they’re actually going to hire 87,000 IRS agents, which is terrible for everybody in this room; or it was an accounting gimmick to lower the overall cost of the non-Inflation Reduction Act. Either way, it’s a terrible way to govern.”

Armstrong complained that a large plurality of IRS employees are still clocking in remotely, which he believes renders them less productive.

“Forty percent of the IRS are still not back at work. They’re not there, they’re working from home,” Armstrong said. “You’d never think you would hear a Republican say this, but bureaucrats gotta go back to work.”

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Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in rural southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge.
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