There are layers of irony in an open letter bashing the IRS and President Joe Biden's administration that Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., posted online this week. For decades now, the Republican Party has lamented that everyone wants a handout and nobody wants to work. They’ve passed onerous right-to-work laws in states that require active job hunting in order to receive any sort of government assistance.
Now Scott has a message for the job seekers of LinkedIn: Don’t apply for any of the thousands of roles that Democrats have made possible at the Internal Revenue Service. Scott promises that if Republicans regain control of Congress, they will actively work to make sure these jobs are only temporary.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a time in history when tax collectors were viewed by anybody with warm regard.
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that the GOP is trying to gin up outrage against the IRS. The party’s general anti-tax stance has long been an ample source of red meat for its base. And you’d be hard-pressed to find a time in history when tax collectors were viewed by anybody with warm regard.
But in his post, Scott offered up a number of half-truths, distortions and outright fabrications in the hopes of making it easier for rich people, such as himself, to avoid an IRS that’s better staffed to scrutinize wealthier Americans’ tax filings.
Scott, who as chair of the National Republican Senatorial Committee is in charge of taking back the Senate from Democrats this fall, specifically joined LinkedIn to post his warning against joining “Biden’s IRS Army,” according to a news release from his office. The two-page missive on U.S. Senate letterhead implored Americans to consider several factors before thinking about applying to work for the IRS.
He warned that Democrats’ plan “drastically grows the workforce of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by adding roughly 87,000 new agents” and claimed that the “massive expansion of the IRS will make it larger than the Pentagon, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs and Border Protection and the State Department combined.”
Right off the bat, Scott is twisting half-truths into weapons against the Democrats. Note that he said “the Pentagon,” where approximately 26,000 people work, instead of the Department of Defense, which employs more than 700,000 civilians around the world.
He also didn't make clear that the $80 billion in funding from Democrats will be spread over 10 years or that the IRS’ staffing levels are lower than they’ve been since the 1970s. Many of the hires that the agency is hoping to make are set to replace thousands of agents who are expected to change jobs or retire. Even if the IRS hires all the staff the new funding would allow, that would only bring the agency up to its 1990s-era staffing levels.
Scott also warned that any potential new agents reading would become “agents to audit and investigate working-class families and small businesses to pull even more of their hard-earned money out of their pockets.” That one is an outright lie: IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig, whom then-President Donald Trump appointed, recently told Congress that he’d follow an order from Biden not to increase the rate of audits on households making less than $400,000. And as things stand, the overburdened IRS auditors have started avoiding the most complicated returns from superrich Americans, leaving lower-income Americans as their focus.
It defies logic to both decry low participation rates in the economy and actively encourage Americans to not even apply for good-paying jobs.
Worst of all, Scott leaned on a poorly phrased job posting (that has since been updated) to insinuate that these new agents will go around killing Americans who don’t pay their taxes on time. That original ad for a special agent informed would-be applicants that among their major duties would be a need to “carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.” All armed law-enforcement personnel must be willing to use deadly force, if necessary, which means the conservative attack on that ad is being made in bad faith.
In closing the letter, Scott suggested that there’s no honor in working for this particular federal agency. He wrote, “I applaud your continued participation in the American labor force and wish you the very best in your search for a great job that serves a purpose beyond being a henchman of President Biden and Congressional Democrats.”
It isn’t surprising that Scott is so ham-fisted about his scaremongering. Not after his equally ham-fisted sales pitch ahead of the midterms that promised the GOP would raise taxes on most Americans. But it defies logic to both decry low participation rates in the economy and actively encourage Americans to not even apply for good-paying jobs. But it makes a certain kind of sense when you consider that the main beneficiaries of a reduced IRS workforce would be wealthy Americans who’d rather pay high-priced accountants to hide their wealth than pay the IRS what they actually owe.