The first vote for House members in the 118th Congress on Monday was to claw back more than $70 billion in new funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
By a vote of 221-210, the Republican-led House voted to rescind nearly 90% of the funding that was provided to the IRS in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act, which meant to give the agency $80 billion over 10 years to boost functions such as customer service, taxpayer assistance and criminal investigations.
Republicans have been vocal critics of the funding, particularly a claim that some 87,000 new IRS agents would be hired to audit Americans’ tax returns—a claim that has been fact-checked and found to be misleading. The figure refers to a total number of employees—not just auditors—who would be hired over a 10-year span.
The legislation was spearheaded by Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE). It would rescind $45.6 billion directed toward strengthened tax enforcement and $25.3 billion for IRS operations support, which encompasses administration activities, IT development and telecommunications.
It leaves untouched $3.2 billion for the IRS to improve taxpayer services and $4.8 billion for technology development aimed at improving customer service phone lines.
The White House blasted Monday’s clawback.
“With their first economic legislation of the new Congress, House Republicans are making clear that their top economic priority is to allow the rich and multi-billion dollar corporations to skip out on their taxes, while making life harder for ordinary, middle-class families that pay the taxes they owe,” the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) said in a statement.
OMB further promised that President Biden would veto the bill, should it make its way to his desk. The iRS funding clawback would have to pass the Democratic-led Senate before that could happen.