Rick Scott: don’t apply for IRS jobs because Republicans will defund them

·3 min read

The Republican senator Rick Scott has warned Americans not to apply for new positions with the Internal Revenue Service because he says his party will defund them if it takes Congress later this year.

Scott, from Florida and head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, also misrepresented the nature of the positions in several ways. He claimed in an open letter that Democrats planned “to defund the actual police and create an IRS super-police force”.

That, Scott said, would “not be tolerated by the American people”.

But such claims, in response to Democrats’ including funding for new IRS roles in their new domestic spending bill, have been debunked.

Referring to spending provisions in the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed by Joe Biden this week, he wrote: “Democrats in Congress recently passed a bill … which provides $80bn in additional taxpayer money and drastically grows the workforce of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) by adding roughly 87,000 new agents.

“… This massive expansion of the IRS will make it larger than Pentagon, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Customs and Border Protection and the state department combined.”

According to Politifact: “If the IRS hired all 87,000 new employees at once, and no existing employees left the agency, the IRS would still be about 34,000 employees smaller than the Pentagon, state department, FBI and US Customs and Border Protection combined, according to the best available figures.”

Scott also claimed: “the IRS is making it very clear that you not only need to be ready to audit and investigate your fellow hardworking Americans, your neighbors and friends, you need to be ready and, to use the IRS’s words, willing, to kill them.”

As supposed evidence, he included an ad with his letter to voters that political factcheckers have said is being wildly misrepresented. The job ad, for IRS Criminal Investigation agents (a very specific role within the agency), said applicants must be “willing and able to participate in arrests, execution of search warrants, and other dangerous assignments”.

The Associated Press declared of the ad:

“A legitimate job ad for special agents within the small law enforcement division of the IRS that works on criminal investigations is being misrepresented online, officials and experts say. The job description does not apply to most potential new employees that the IRS will hire in the coming years. The vast majority of IRS workers are not armed.”

Regarding the actual use of the new funds, NBC News reported a memo from Janet Yellen, the treasury secretary, to the IRS commissioner, Charles Rettig, that said the new funding would be used to “enforce the tax laws against high net-worth individuals, large corporations, and complex partnerships who today pay far less than they owe”.

Scott is a high net-worth individual. In 1997, his healthcare company reached a $1.7bn settlement of federal charges of fraudulent billing and practices. As reported by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Scott emerged “with $300m in stock, a $5.1m severance and a $950,000-per-year consulting contract for five years”.

On Thursday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, said: “Hmm, we wonder why the richest man in Congress is so opposed to more IRS agents?”

Scott also told voters the new IRS positions would not “offer you the long-term job stability you may expect … put another way: this will be a short-term gig.

“Republicans will take over the House and Senate in January, and I can promise you that we will immediately do everything in our power to defund this insane and unwarranted expansion of government into the lives of the American people.”

Republicans are favoured to prosper in the November midterms, as the opposition usually does in a president’s first term in office. But successes including passage of the Inflation Reduction Act may have increased Democrats’ chances of holding one or both houses of Congress.