Tax and climate bill could massively expand IRS union, which almost exclusively donates to Democrats

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The funding increase for the IRS to hire potentially tens of thousands of new agents may be a big boost to the union representing Treasury Department employees, a group that is active in politics and donates almost exclusively to Democratic politicians.

The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), which claims to represent about 70,000 IRS employees, has “strongly endorsed” the climate and tax bill called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which could allow the federal tax collecting agency to hire nearly 87,000 employees over the next decade. Many of the new employees could join the union, which through a political action committee gives almost 100% of its funding to Democratic politicians and committees. 

The NTEU’s PAC has donated predominantly to Democratic politicians in previous cycles through its political action committee. The union’s PAC gave around $590,000 to help Democrats seeking election in 2020 compared to $18,000 donated to Republicans, according to OpenSecrets. 

In the 2022 cycle so far, the NTEU PAC has dropped over $200,000 supporting 100 Democrats in the House and in the 10 Senate as well as several Democratic committees, and just $2,500 supporting two House Republicans, OpenSecrets shows. 

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The union has given $30,000 to the Democratic National Committee in both the 2020 and 2022 election cycles, as well as large donations to other Democratic campaign committees. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-Maine, received $10,000 in the current cycle from the PAC. Reps. David McKinley, R-W.Va., and Maria Salazar, R-Fla., are the only Republicans who have received NTEU PAC funds this cycle.

“Our union’s political action committee, which only accepts voluntary donations from members and is not funded by union dues, has a policy of supporting candidates who support federal employees and their ability to deliver services. Historically, the PAC has donated to Democratic, Republican and independent candidates in races across the country,” NTEU national president Tony Reardon said in a statement shared with Fox News Digital.

The NTEU maintains that while the $80 billion proposed for the IRS in the Inflation Reduction Act could be used to hire the nearly 87,000 employees that the administration wants to hire over the next decade, approximately 50,000 of those employees will be replacing retiring government workers. The union also said increasing the workforce is necessary in order to rebuild the IRS after a decade of budget cuts, as well as improve technology and services for taxpayers as the federal revenue collection agency.

“NTEU’s decision to support the 10-year, $80 billion investment in the IRS, as contained in the Inflation Reduction Act, is based entirely on the plan’s ability to rebuild the agency and give the public servants who work there the resources they need to make the IRS the most efficient and effective tax administration system in the world,” Reardon said.

The NTEU PAC is not allowed to make political contributions with union dues, but distributes funds donated by members in addition to their dues. 

The IRS funding in the Inflation Reduction Act is a crucial part of the bill’s overall goal of increasing climate initiatives and health spending while also reducing the deficit. The bill claims to be able to generate $740 billion in part through the increased IRS enforcement, while spending nearly $400 billion on climate initiatives.

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The Biden administration claims that the IRS funding is essential to continue operations since the agency’s budget has been gutted in the past decade. “Today, the IRS has fewer auditors than at any time since World War II,” the Treasury Department said in a report last year when proposing its plan to bring on thousands of new agents and employees. 

The IRS’ audit rate fell by almost 50% over the past decade, particularly in oversight of individuals who make more than $1 million annually, according to the Treasury, which said in the report that higher funding would be needed to go after tax evaders. The Congressional Budget Office, analyzing similar proposed funding increases to the IRS last year, noted that additonal employees would mean audit rates “would rise for all taxpayers, but higher-income taxpayers would face the largest increase.”

Republicans have blasted the Inflation Reduction Act, announced as a backroom agreement between Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer in late July, as increasing American’s tax pain while doing nothing to reduce inflation. 

Senate Minority Whip John Thune, R-S.C., asserted on Fox News Tuesday that most of the new IRS employees would not be customer service workers. “Most of them are going to be harassing middle-income taxpayers,” Thune said.

The bill passed the Senate on a party-line vote Sunday, and heads to the House of Representatives for approval later this week.

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