Another Tax Season Draws to a Close Without IRS Agents Needing Weapons 

Dmitry Demidovich /
Dmitry Demidovich /

The IRS has been arming its special forces for years to supply weaponry to its Criminal Investigation Division. While the rumor circulating about arming each of the proposed additional 87,000 agents isn’t true, the number of weapons and ammunition necessary to arm the 2,148 IRS law enforcement officers is alarming.  

The division has 4,461 weapons, with 5.04 million rounds of ammo ready. The department spends hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on additional ammunition and tactical gear. 

Since its founding in 1919, the IRS Criminal Investigation Division has had four agents lose their lives while on duty. Three of them died in vehicle accidents, and one had a heart attack at the IRS gym. 

On July 1, 2022, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) introduced the Disarm the IRS Act, a bill that would stop the IRS’s ability to acquire ammunition.  As you can imagine, the party that wants to disarm citizens is perfectly fine keeping IRS agents armed to the teeth, and the bill went nowhere. 

Despite a Republican vote to repeal funding for 87,000 new IRS agents, the plan will likely carry on through the Democratic-controlled Senate. The Democrats claim that the hiring will take place over the next decade and is intended to replace retiring employees working as auditors, agents, and IT specialists.

They are also obstinately sticking to the assertion that the agents will target the so-called “rich.” 

The flaw in their logic is that the “rich” have the money to hide their assets in nearly untraceable ways, and to fight the IRS. That leaves low-hanging fruit, like small businesses, the middle class, and the poor wide open for targeting.  

Expanding the IRS extends the department’s ability to audit taxpayers, with some estimates claiming the possibility of more than 1.2 million audits annually. Of those audits, nearly half will be on Americans making less than $75k and a quarter of them will be on those making less than $25,000.  

Research shows that most underreported small business and individual income comes from people and business entities earning less than $200k per year and is usually unintentional. If the IRS uncovers an issue, most Americans don’t have the financial capability to fight it, even if the alleged issue is unfounded. Just because the IRS thinks Americans should pay more doesn’t mean their raids and audits are always justified. 

According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), only 8% of the Criminal Investigation cases in 2017 uncovered tax law violations. In 92% of the cases, those raided were not interviewed until after their property was confiscated, meaning that judges made probable cause decisions without any information from the interviews. 

TIGTA found possible violations of the Eighth Amendment due to inconsistencies in fines and penalties, which were enforced depending on the taxpayer’s willingness or ability to hire effective lawyers. 

The IRS Criminal Investigation’s chief, Jim Lee, explained that arming officers is about deterring tax lawbreakers.  In 2021, Lee reported, “The IRS, and our country, relies on CI’s ability to investigate and recommend prosecution of criminal tax violations and other related financial crimes to the Department of Justice. The deterrent effect from our work reinforces the backbone of our voluntary compliance tax system. Criminal tax cases that are prosecuted and publicized provide a strong deterrent message to would-be tax evaders, helping to ensure the integrity and fairness in the U.S. tax system.” 

The hypocrisy of a political party that tells American citizens that guns are not effective crime deterrents using guns to deter white-collar criminals is astounding. 

It adds a new context to those who claim the government is “weaponizing” the IRS.