The Perfect Enemy | Scoop: House Republicans cry politics over IRS outreach
December 2, 2022
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Close-up of "IRS" lettering at the Internal Revenue ServiceClose-up of "IRS" lettering at the Internal Revenue Service

Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

House Republicans are threatening to investigate the Treasury Department, if they win back the majority, over the mid-October timing of 9 million letters the Internal Revenue Service sent out reminding Americans of their eligibility for certain tax credits.

  • That includes the third round of stimulus checks, child tax credits and the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

What they’re saying: “The suspicious timing of these letters right before an election appears political,” Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, wrote to IRS Commissioner Charles P. Rettig, in a letter obtained by Axios.

  • Brady also is raising questions about what he called an “unusual” move by the Treasury Department to extend thru mid-November an earlier deadline for filing extensions.

The other side: There’s plenty of precedent across past administrations — including Donald Trump’s — for such IRS outreach, a Treasury official told Axios.

Why it matters: It’s another sign of Republicans’ determination to investigate agencies and departments across the Biden administration if they win back control of Congress in next week’s midterm elections.

  • With Brady set to retire, two Republicans in top contention to lead the committee are Rep. Jason Smith (R-Mo.), ranking Republican of the House Budget Committee, and Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.)

Don’t forget: The words “President Donald J. Trump” appeared on the memo line on $1,200 pandemic checks sent out to 70 million Americans in 2020.

  • As ABC News reported, it was likely the first time a president’s name appeared on a payment from the IRS, which had long sought to maintain a reputation independent from partisan politics.
  • That September, the IRS mailed letters to around 9 million Americans who typically don’t file federal income tax returns who may be eligible to claim an Economic Impact Payment.

The bottom line: Republicans are planning an aggressive oversight approach in 2023 for everything from corporations they view as abetting left-wing forces to COVID-19 origins to the FBI and Justice Department.