Lawmakers: IRS dodging oversight after destroying 30 million records

(The Center Square) – Lawmakers investigating reports that the IRS destroyed tens of millions of taxpayer records say the federal tax agency is not cooperating with the investigation.

Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo., and Oversight Subcommittee Chairman David Schweikert, R-Ariz., sent a letter to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel demanding he comply with the documentation request.

They argue the agency has “willfully ignored” their request, which dates back to last year.

The inquiry comes after a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration report showing that the IRS destroyed roughly 30 million taxpayer documents in 2021. Critics say the agency made a mistake and that taxpayers may have needed those files if they are audited in the future.

“The decision to destroy information returns diligently prepared by millions of American taxpayers demands congressional oversight,” the letter said. “The destruction of these returns raises the question of whether information reporting should be scaled back to reduce the burden placed on taxpayers in reporting information the IRS does not even use.”

Notably, President Joe Biden has pledged to ramp up auditing with a flood of new auditors.

That IG report kicked off scrutiny from lawmakers in May of 2022, but now they say the IRS is not doing enough to cooperate with the investigation. In particular, lawmakers say the agency has refused to hand over the “decision memorandum” that authorized the destruction of the documents.

“The Biden administration’s refusal to respond to the Committee, engage in a substantive discussion with staff about the request, and ultimately deny access to the decision memorandum obstructs Congress’s ability to conduct our important oversight responsibilities…” the letter said.

This is only one of several issues facing the IRS, which has taken fire for alleged politicization, its home visit policy, major backlog issues, and more.

National Taxpayer Advocate recently reported that the IRS still has millions of unprocessed returns, though it has reduced its COVID-era backlog by about 80%.

Werfel, a former acting IRS commissioner who was confirmed as IRS Commissioner earlier this year, took pointed questions over the backlogs and other issues at his confirmation hearing in February.

“Massive backlogs have left desperate families and small businesses waiting on much needed returns as they fight skyrocketing inflation,” U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., said during Werfel’s confirmation hearing.

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