The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

GOP-led House votes to slash IRS tax enforcement budget by $1.2 billion, a 25 per cent cut

  • Print

WASHINGTON - The GOP-controlled House has voted to slash the budget for the Internal Revenue Service's tax enforcement division by $1.2 billion, a 25 per cent cut that would mean fewer audits of taxpayers and make it more likely that people who cheat on their taxes will get away with it.

The House approved the cuts by voice vote after little debate Monday night as it took up a $21 billion spending bill that sets the IRS budget.

The cuts reflect GOP outrage over the agency's scrutiny of tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status and frustration over the agency's failure to produce thousands of emails by Lois Lerner, the official formerly in charge of the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status.

"The use of a government agency to harass, target, intimidate and threaten lawful, honest citizens was the worst form of authoritarianism," said Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., author of an amendment to cut the IRS tax enforcement budget by $353 million. Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich., followed up with an amendment to cut $788 million more.

The Democratic floor leader on the funding bill, Rep. Jose Serrano of New York, opposed the amendments but opted against demanding a roll call vote.

"The answer is not to cut the IRS to bare bones, because our next problem is that the deficit will continue to grow because we won't be able to do the proper collecting of tax dollars in this country," Serrano said.

Budget cuts already are hurting the agency's ability to police tax returns, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has said.

Taxpayers' chances of getting audited are lower than they have been in years. And this year, the IRS will have fewer agents auditing returns than at any time since at least the 1980s.

One's chances of getting audited vary greatly, based on income. The more you make, the more likely you are to get a letter from the IRS.

Only 0.9 per cent of people making less than $200,000 were audited last year, according to IRS statistics. That's the lowest rate since the IRS began publishing the statistic in 2006.

By contrast, 10.9 per cent of people making $1 million or more were audited. That's the lowest rate since 2010.

The White House had already issued a veto threat on the legislation, saying it shortchanges the IRS, impedes implementation of the new health care law and undercuts the new regulations on Wall Street that passed in 2010.

House debate on the IRS and Treasury Department funding bill was to resume Tuesday. A companion Senate measure has stalled in the Appropriations Committee, hung up in part over a looming amendment by GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky aimed at blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing new regulations limiting greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. McConnell appears likely to prevail in the committee, which is stocked with pro-energy Democrats who are up for re-election.

A fight over those EPA rules extended to the House Appropriations Committee, which approved by a mostly party-line vote a separate measure funding the Interior Department and the EPA on Tuesday. A Democratic bid to preserve the EPA rules failed by a 29-18 vote. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., labeled the measure "an ideological dumping ground of short-sighted environmental policies."

Democrats protested language in the measure that would block the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from enforcing new rules that sharply limit sales of products made with ivory, even if it was legally imported before the 1990 ban for African elephants or the 1975 ban on ivory from Asian elephants. The rules are aimed at cracking down on the flourishing trade in illegal ivory but a wide array of people, including owners of musical instruments, antiques and guns made with ivory, are up in arms because they are in many instances no longer able to trade in such items, stripping them of their value.

Democrats prepared an amendment to protect the new rules, citing ivory's role in financing terrorist organizations but withdrew it after Republicans promised to work to balance the needs of legal ivory users with the desire to fight illegal trade in it.

___

Associated Press writer Stephen Ohlemacher contributed to this report.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Preview: Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A goose heads for shade in the sunshine Friday afternoon at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg - Day 26– June 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS / Jan 10  2011 ‚Äì WEB STDUP ‚Äì Frosty morning at -15 degrees C , in pic frost covers the the Nellie McClung statue  on the MB Legislature grounds at 7am

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think e-cigarettes should be banned by the school division?

View Results

Ads by Google