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VPM Daily Newscast: Aug. 22, 2022

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The VPM Daily Newscast contains all your Central Virginia news in just 5 to 10 minutes. Episodes are recorded the night before.  

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Whittney Evans: This is Whittney Evans with VPM, and with me is Warren Fiske, our PolitiFact Virginia editor. Hi, Warren. 

Warren Fiske: Hey, Whittney. 

Evans: Warren, Congressman Bob Good, a Republican from the 5th District, says the Internal Revenue Service is going to hire 87,000 more agents to crack down on middle-class taxpayers.  

You fact checked this. Is Good right? 

Fiske: Essentially, no. This is terribly misleading. 

I mean, the IRS is going to be expanding over the next 10 years, but not in the way that Good describes. And the expansion is aimed at cracking down on high-earning people and corporations. Earners under $400,000 a year are not supposed to be affected. 

Evans: Let me read a tweet Good posted on August 10th.  

"Democrats are voting to add an army of 87,000 IRS agents who will target middle class taxpayers and conduct at least 1 million more audits each year."

Fiske: Notice the warlike current to his statement: An army of IRS agents will target the middle class. 

Evans: Yeah. What’s the source of this? 

Fiske: Well, Good is repeating a Republican talking point about the Inflation Reduction Act that President Joe Biden signed into law last week. The Democratic measure passed Congress on a strictly partisan vote.  

The law is aimed at reducing health care costs and carbon emissions. One way it pays for these investments is by raising taxes on corporations and wealthy investors. 

And another way is by expanding and updating the IRS. The law increases the IRS funding by $80 billion over 10 years. And that investment is expected to return $204 billion in taxes that wealthy filers have been evading. 

Evans: What about the 87,000 new agents Good tweeted about? 

Fiske: That’s a really contorted number in Republican talking points. 

The IRS is going to spend the new money on many things: modernizing IT, improving customer service and hiring 87,000 new full-time workers.  

But not all of these new hires will be auditors or work in tax enforcement. Some, for example, will be IT specialists, some will be in customer service. The exact numbers haven’t been worked out. 

And here’s another thing: Although the IRS will be hiring 87,000 new workers over 10 years, its staff won’t be growing by anywhere near that amount.

Evans: Why is that? 

Fiske: The IRS is expecting to lose more than 50,000 current employees over the next 10 years to retirement and other reasons. Most of the new workers will be replacements. 

The IRS has 80,000 workers right now and, when all is said and done, it’ll probably grow by about a third. 

Evans: Now, you said earlier that taxpayers earning less than $400,000 shouldn’t be affected. What assurances are there? 

Fiske: That’s a great question. We have the word of the president and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, who oversees the IRS. Republicans say they don’t trust them.   

Evans: Good also said in his tweet that the IRS will be conducting one million more audits a year. Is that right? 

Fiske: Well, it seems like a high number, but we don’t know. There’s no official estimate. The IRS ran 740,000 audits last year. 

Evans: Alright, what did PolitiFact rate Good’s statement. 

Fiske: Well, it has three parts. Is the IRS hiring 87,000 more agents? No. 

Will the IRS be expanding audits of the middle class? No, again. It’s wealthy filers. 

Will the IRS be conducting 1 million additional audits a year? Possibly, we don’t know. 

So overall, we rated his statement Mostly False.