Fact Checker: Marianne Miller-Meeks says the IRS will be bigger than four other federal agencies. East
U.S. Representative Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, speaks September 26 during a debate with State Representative Christina Bohannan at Iowa PBS in Johnston. (Pool photo by Zach Boyden-Holmes/Des Moines Register)
The two candidates for Iowa’s 1st congressional district sparred during a debate last month.
State Rep. Christina Bohannan, a Democrat from Iowa City, attacked her opponent, U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a Republican with residences in Ottumwa and LeClaire, while Miller-Meeks lashed out at President Joe Biden and his Democratic administration.
“But the Cut Inflation Act had 87,000 new IRS officers, it increased the IRS budget sixfold, it doubled the size of the IRS, and it has more employees than… will have more employees than the State Department, the Pentagon, Customs and Border Protection, and the FBI combined,” Miller-Meeks said during the Sept. 27 debate at Iowa PBS Studios. .
Miller-Meeks was referring to legislation signed Aug. 16 by Biden that would provide $80 billion over 10 years to the IRS.
When the fact-checker asked Eric Woolson, a spokesperson for Miller-Meeks, to stock up, he pointed to a statement by U.S. Senator Suzanne Collins, a Republican from Maine, and an article from the Washington Free Beacon, a right-wing media.
The Beacon and Collins both cite the number 87,000, but do not provide links to where they got it. The law does not include this figure in the articles that describe the financing.
Republicans say the cash injection will mean more audits – and they’re right. This is how the IRS plans to try to recover some of the estimated $600 billion in unpaid taxes each year, according to a 2021 US Treasury report.
The legislation seeks to correct more than a decade of declining IRS funding, which has resulted in an audit rate of less than 0.00004%. One of the needs is specialized auditors to manage high-revenue and complex, multinational organizations, the report says.
Table 3 of the Treasury report indicates that the IRS would add 86,852 full-time employees between 2022 and 2031 as part of the $80 billion injection. But not all of them will be “IRS agents”. Some new employees will work in customer service, information technology and other support functions, the law says.
Miller-Meeks says the $80 billion increase would increase the IRS budget sixfold.
The IRS budget for fiscal year 2021 was $13.7 billion (about the same as 2012). If you add $8 billion a year – which may not be accurate as the Inflation Reduction Act money does not specify that the money should be spent equally during each of the 10 years – that would increase the IRS annual budget to $21.7 billion. That’s about a 60 percent increase, not six times.
The IRS has 78,661 employees, so the Cut Inflation Act would more than double that number, as Miller-Meeks said.
His latest claim is that the IRS – when fully funded in 2031 – would have “more employees than the State Department, the Pentagon, Customs and Border Protection, and the FBI combined”.
Below is the number of employees for each agency, according to their official websites:
- Pentagon: 24,000 military and civilian personnel, plus 3,000 non-defense support personnel
- FBI: 37,000 employees
- Department of State: 13,000 foreign service members, 11,000 civil service employees, and 45,000 employees at more than 270 diplomatic missions worldwide
- Customs and border patrols: 64,272 employees including 19,536 border patrol agents
Woolson said Miller-Meeks only meant Border Patrol agents in his tally, but even including that lower number from Customs and Border Patrol, the number of employees at the four agencies would be 149,536.
In the debate against Bohannan, Miller-Meeks repeated statements she heard from other elected officials and a news outlet, relying on them to get the numbers right. It didn’t go so well.
She’s right, the Inflation Reduction Act could add nearly 87,000 IRS employees over 10 years, doubling the size of the agency.
She is wrong about the injection of 80 billion dollars which multiplies the IRS budget by six. It is far from saying that the IRS would become larger in 10 years than four other federal agencies combined are today.
The overall statement is half true, which means it gets a C.
The Fact Checker team verifies statements made by an Iowa political candidate or office holder or national candidate/office holder about Iowa, or in advocacy advertisements that appear in our marketplace.
Claims must be independently verifiable. We assign statements grades from A to F based on accuracy and context.
If you spot a claim that you think needs checking, email us at [email protected]
The members of the Fact Checker team are Elijah Decious, Erin Jordan and Marissa Payne. This fact checker was researched and written by Erin Jordan.