DeSantis: Democrats’ plan to hire 87,000 IRS agents a 'middle finger to the American public'

Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis announces plan designed to protect Floridians from IRS auditors.

Updated: August 19, 2022 - 11:51pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

When discussing Florida’s new plan to hire more teachers this week, Gov. Ron DeSantis described the Biden administration’s plan to hire 87,000 IRS agents as giving “a middle finger to the American public.”

Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis also announced a new plan this week that he said is designed to protect Floridians from IRS auditors.

Congressional Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act allocates $80 billion to the IRS, with $45.6 billion to hire new agents. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projects the new law will lead to tax increases for nearly every American, including those in the lowest income bracket. This comes after the IRS purchased $750,000 worth of ammunition this year and advertised to hire new agents stating they must be willing to use deadly force. Democrats who voted for the bill maintain no one who earns under $400,000 will see their taxes go up.

“Why would they do that?” DeSantis asked, referring to the need to hire so many agents. “Because you’re not going to be able to contend with the audit. So they’re going to crush a lot of people by doing that.

“I think of all the things that have come out of Washington that have been outrageous, this has got to be pretty close to the top. I think it was basically just a middle finger to the American public that this is what they think of you. All these problems we have to deal with, and they think the way is to do 87,000 IRS agents. There’s going to be more people in the IRS than in a lot of these other agencies combined now.”

He added, “They’re not putting very much money down at the border; I can tell you that right now,” referring to a surge in illegal immigration at the southern border since President Joe Biden took office. Others, like Congressman Ted Budd, R-NC, have proposed hiring more Border Patrol and Immigration enforcement agents instead of IRS auditors, but were ignored by the Democratic majority.

DeSantis pointed to Florida not having a personal income tax as one way to protect Floridians from increased audits.

“Fortunately, that’s one of the reasons we don’t have an income tax, because if you don’t have an income tax, you don’t empower revenue agents,” he said. “Once you do that income tax, that gives them the ability to really go in and potentially target … And it’s going to be targeted at the people that the government doesn’t like.”

The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that between 78% and 90% of an additional $200 billion the IRS will collect will come from small businesses that earn less than $200,000 in profit annually. Only between 4% and 9% would come from small businesses that earn more than $500,000 a year, it adds.

“The IRS will have to target small and medium businesses because they won’t fight back,” Joe Hinchman, executive vice president at National Taxpayers Union Foundation, told The New York Post. “We’ve seen this play out before … the IRS says ‘We’re going after the rich’ but when you’re trying to raise that much money, the rich can only get you so far.”

Even though IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said in an Aug. 4 letter that the billions in increased revenue won’t increase “audit scrutiny on small businesses or middle-income Americans,” Florida’s CFO Patronis thinks it will and has already proposed a plan to protect Floridians against such audits.

Patronis recommended four legislative proposals for the state legislature to consider next year that he said would protect Floridians from IRS audits.

“I know they’re going to target Florida, so I’ve put forward four proposals to throw their red tape right back in their faces,” he said.

The first part of the plan includes requiring state-chartered banks to generate a regular report on IRS engagement that would be used by the state to identify IRS targets. The state would then “identify any potential patterns of discrimination and highlight how the new auditors are targeting conservatives.”

The second part of the plan would establish a Civil Liability Trust Fund “to help Florida's small businesses defend themselves, or even sue the IRS in cases of politically motivated audits or federal overreach.” The trust fund could help small businesses acquire legal representation, he said.

The third initiative includes creating a new state license to require new IRS agents to register with the state in order to access any Floridian’s information. The licensure process “would further scrutinize IRS operatives and examine their backgrounds and motives to protect Florida consumer information.”

The fourth would establish criminal penalties for agents targeting Floridians based on their viewpoints or what could be construed as political discrimination. “There is documented evidence that the IRS targeted Tea Party groups in 2013,” he said, and “no doubt the IRS under the Biden Administration would do the same to Florida.

“This IRS Protection Plan is a way for Florida to fight back. Florida has attracted $24 billion of income; largely from Blue States. Biden’s IRS wants to shakedown small businesses and the middle class in Florida. We won’t let him!”