House GOP demands cuts to IRS budget, aid to Israel

By | October 30, 2023

House Republicans unveiled a proposal Monday to fund emergency aid for Israel’s war against Hamas by cutting IRS funds intended to crack down on wealthy tax evaders and improve service to taxpayers. .

The legislation, released by the House Rules Committee, calls for approving about $14 billion, mostly for military aid to Israel, and cutting about the same amount from the IRS budget. President Biden proposed giving Israel roughly the same amount of aid, but did not call for compensating cuts in other parts of the budget. The new House speaker, Rep. Mike Johnson (R-La.), said the new spending must be covered by other spending cuts to avoid adding to the debt. Biden also called for Israeli aid to be around $60 billion for Ukraine — an approach rejected by the Republican Party’s bill.

The IRS has $80 billion coming. It should be spent answering the phone.

The legislation reflects the Republican Party’s continued determination to reverse the IRS expansion that Biden secured in 2022 as part of the Inflation Reduction Act, which increased funding for the agency by $80 billion. dollars to improve services to taxpayers and finance more coercive measures against wealthy tax evaders. Biden and House Republicans agreed to repeal about $20 billion of that $80 billion as part of a May deal to suspend the U.S. debt ceiling. Today, Republicans are demanding more cuts.

The GOP bill would cut funds for most aspects of the IRS expansion, including increased enforcement and a new online portal to allow taxpayers to file their taxes for free directly with the government. The legislation excludes reductions in improved services to taxpayerswhich helped the IRS reduce wait times for appeals.

Using IRS funding to offset Israeli aid may not actually save money: the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2022 that the $80 billion expansion of the IRS would reduce the deficit by more than $100 billion, improving collections and enforcement.

Conservatives say they are optimistic that the debt ceiling deal means the administration has demonstrated it will forgo IRS funding to approve other priorities and may be forced to do it again.

“This becomes the piggy bank that Democrats have already agreed to,” said Grover Norquist, an anti-tax activist with Americans for Tax Reform, which opposed the expansion.

The GOP bill kicks off what is likely to be a fierce political battle for support for Israel. Democrats in both chambers of Congress oppose the House GOP’s bill, and the White House is expected to oppose it as well.

“House Republicans are setting a dangerous precedent by suggesting that protecting national security or responding to natural disasters depends on cuts to other programs,” said Rep. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), the top Democrat. of the House Appropriations Committee, in a press release. . “The partisan bill introduced by House Republicans blocks our ability to help Israel defend itself and does not include a cent for humanitarian aid. »

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