After a hiring spree to the tune of 13% YoY, the IRS now has the most employees in over a decade at close to 90,000, agency Commissioner Danny Werfel told reporters Tuesday, according to the Federal News Network.
Last year, the IRS counted 79,070 full-time workers.
The last time the agency employed more than 90,000 people was 2012, when there were 90,280 full-time equivalent positions. In 2015, the headcount dropped below 80,000, where it's remained until now.
Last year the Inflation Reduction Act allocated $80 billion to hire new employees - a figure which was later reduced to $60 billion amid bipartisan negotiations.
"A year ago, there were suggestions that this funding was going to supply an army of armed IRS agents who were out to shake down average taxpayers. This myth should be laid to rest," Werfel said - days before an IRS employee accidentally killed a coworker at an Arizona shooting range, adding "There is no mythical army of new IRS agents on the streets.
Mr. Werfel told reporters that the agency is utilizing IRA funds to make an “immediate, meaningful difference to deliver the service taxpayers and the nation deserve.” He also pushed back against claims that the IRS intended to boost the number of its armed agents. -Epoch Times
In April, Werfel told the House Ways and Means Committee that the agency intends to increase the number of enforcement officers in its Criminal Investigation Division by 1,200 over five years. The division investigates tax evasion and fraud, for which personnel are armed when "they're putting themselves in danger."
According to Werfel, 3% of agents are armed - such as the dozens of armed IRS agents which raided a Florida business last month.
"It was like a scene from a movie," one witness told WPTV. "They had the big gear, tactical gear because they probably didn't know what they were walking into."
More via the Epoch Times
In June, 20 armed agents from the IRS and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) visited the Highwood Creek Outfitters in Great Falls, Montana. The agents then shut down the shop.
“I was completely afraid for all the [passersby],” Tom Van Hoose, owner of the store, told Fox News. “What do you do when you got 20 heavily armed IRS agents in full battle rattle with guns at the ready?”
When Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Mont.) visited the site after the IRS incident, he was “informed that the IRS confiscated the store's 4473 forms—containing personal, sensitive information of customers and no financial information,” according to a June 30 press release.
“Immediately after his visit, Rep. Rosendale sent a letter to ATF Director Dettelbach and IRS Commissioner Werfel demanding answers to the purpose of this unannounced, armed raid.”
On June 30, Mr. Rosendale introduced the “Why Does the IRS Need Guns Act” which aims to prevent the IRS from using taxpayer dollars to buy firearms for its agents.
The bill also intends to transfer all guns and ammunition in the possession of the IRS to the General Services administration. In addition, the Criminal Investigation Division would be shifted to the Department of Justice.
“Biden's alphabet agencies have no business intimidating hardworking Montanans,” he said.
“The weaponization of our government must end, which is why I am proud to introduce this legislation to prohibit taxpayer funds from being leveraged against the American people.”
87,000 New IRS Agents
The IRS intends to hire 87,000 new employees over a ten-year period, Mr. Werfel revealed during the April 27 hearing of the House Ways and Means Committee.
A large portion of the hires would be to replace workers lost from employee attrition and fill the historically low staffing level, he said while pointing out that 16,000 IRS employees are expected to retire by the end of 2024.
“We are making very good progress on our hiring,” Mr. Werfel said on Tuesday, according to the Federal News Network. “The important point here is that our staffing size is a lot smaller than it was previously, due to these funding cuts.”
“We’re hiring, in some cases, mid-career. In some cases, at retirement. We’re having success, too, hiring people right out of school where they’ll grow into the job.”
The agency is looking to recruit top talent from accounting and law firms to go after wealthy individuals who cheat on taxes. It is also seeking to hire data scientists.
Since the IRA funding was approved, the IRS has opened 35 Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TAC) throughout the country as part of its Community Assistance Visits program, according to a July 14 news release.
“The IRS believes Community Assistance Visits will help address the needs of taxpayers who aren't able to visit an in-person office,” the agency said. The IRS has hired over 600 personnel at the TACs.