House Republican Raises Concern Over 'Militarization' of IRS After Report Agency Spent $10 Million on Weapons, Gear

House Republican Raises Concern Over 'Militarization' of IRS After Report Agency Spent $10 Million on Weapons, Gear
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington on June 28, 2023. (Madalina Vasiliu/The Epoch Times)
Savannah Hulsey Pointer

A House Republican is requesting a comprehensive accounting of the weapons and tactical equipment owned by the IRS, citing her "growing concern" over reports that the tax agency has spent millions on items related to firearms over the past three years.

Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.) wrote a letter (pdf) to IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel on July 24 asking for an accounting of his department's expenditures on weapons and tactical gear.

"I write to you today to express my concerns regarding the increased rate of weapon purchases by the Internal Revenue Service," Ms. Bice said. "While I recognize the Criminal Investigation division has a law enforcement role, recent reports have indicated that the IRS has made substantial purchases of weaponry and tactical gear.

"As a civilian agency whose stated mission is to 'Provide America’s taxpayers top-quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all,' the increasing militarization of the IRS is of growing concern."

The lawmaker cited a watchdog organization that recently released a report which stated that the IRS spent nearly $10 million to stockpile weapons, ammunition, and gear since 2020. According to the lawmaker's letter, the report also mentions the purchase of tactical lighting, optical sights, ballistic helmets, and other items.

"It is important for Congress to conduct thorough oversight of IRS, and the American people deserve to have a full accounting of these recent events," Ms. Bice went on.

The Lawmaker's Request

The request seeks specific details to shed light on the agency's possession of items associated with the more aggressive tactics of law enforcement agencies.

The lawmaker's letter includes three key points of inquiry.

Firstly, Ms. Bice is seeking information about the accounts used by the IRS to procure weapons, gear, and ammunition. Secondly, she requested data on the quantity and types of items possessed by the IRS, which includes weapons, weapons systems, ammunition, explosive devices, armored vehicles, drones or unmanned aerial vehicles, and chemical weapons like tear gas.

Additionally, the letter inquires about modifications made to weapons issued by the IRS. Ms. Bice is seeking data on the types of modifications that have been approved by the senior analyst at the National Criminal Investigation Training Academy, and the total number of approved modification requests.

To provide context, the letter references Part 9 of the Internal Revenue Manual, which pertains to criminal investigation and outlines the permissible modifications to weapons, along with the process for granting exceptions.

This request for information comes as part of efforts to enhance transparency and accountability in government agencies, aiming to gain insight into the IRS's involvement with weaponry and tactical equipment.

As the IRS responds to this request, it may provide valuable information to the lawmaker and the public, shedding light on the agency's practices regarding the possession and use of such items.

Change in IRS Policy

Ms. Bice's request comes on the heels of the IRS's announcement of a major "common-sense" policy change that would put an end to most of the unannounced agent visits to taxpayers' homes, due to security concerns.

The move, effective immediately, reverses decades of IRS policy in which revenue officers would unexpectedly tap on taxpayers' doors in an effort to resolve delinquent tax matters.

According to a statement from the agency, the reason for the change is to reduce the possibility that anxiety-inducing surprise home visits by tax enforcement agents could escalate out of control, posing a threat to both taxpayers and agency field officers.

According to the IRS, experience indicates that unannounced door knocks at residences and businesses are high-risk encounters, with agents routinely confronting "hazards and uncertainty" when making surprise visits.

Unannounced visits also contributed to what the IRS termed "public confusion" and posed threats to the safety of taxpayers.

House Republicans from the Ways and Means Committee and Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight also sent a letter to Mr. Werfel demanding answers about the destruction of over 30 million taxpayer documents from 2021 (pdf).

The agency destroyed over 30 million unprocessed paper tax returns in that year and according to Committee Chairman Jason Smith (R-Mo.), the IRS has been uncooperative despite repeated attempts to learn more about the decision.

“The Biden Administration’s refusal to respond to the Committee, engage in a substantive discussion with staff about the request, and ultimately deny access to the decision memorandum obstructs Congress’s ability to conduct our important oversight responsibilities," Mr. Smith and Subcommittee on Oversight Chairman David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) said in their letter.

The lawmakers cited repeated attempts to obtain the information from Mr. Werfel's predecessor, Doug O’Donnell, who, according to the lawmakers, stonewalled the committee. The Ways and Means Committee is the tax agency's highest oversight commission.

The IRS did not respond to The Epoch Times' request for comment before press time.