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March 2, 2023
The House Ways and Means Committee this week passed an oversight plan for the 118th Congress on a party-line vote that includes aggressive scrutiny of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Biden administration’s tax agenda and the tax laws, regulations and filing requirements that affect tax-exempt organizations.
Ways and Means Chair Jason Smith (R-MO) cited rapid growth in the tax-exempt community and the sector’s role in free speech and the political process as reasons the committee will be closely watching tax-exempt entities, “particularly charities, foundations and political groups operating as social welfare organizations,” he said. Smith said the committee will be reviewing the IRS’s application process for tax-exempt status and the agency’s ability to identify fraud and abuse in the sector.
Unsurprisingly, Ways and Means Republicans are laser-focused on the IRS and the additional $80 billion in funding the agency received from the Inflation Reduction Act last year. About $46 billion of the funding was allocated for enforcement and the rest to taxpayer services, operations support and modernizing business systems. In discussing the oversight plan, Smith reiterated a suggestion that the IRS intends to use the additional funding to “increase audits on hard working Americans using an army of 87,000 new agents,” which the Treasury Department and Biden’s pick to lead the IRS, Daniel Werfel, have refuted.
Ways and Means Ranking Member Richard Neal (D-MA) said Ways and Means Democrats could not support the GOP-drafted oversight plan prevents the committee from reaching consensus on institutional goals.
“Setting up a new Congress is a time to look ahead to what’s possible and to deliver on the promises that would better the lives of the American people,” Neal said. “Yet this blueprint is deeply partisan and seems to be crafted to force our opposition.”