IRS chief vows security review in the wake of threats from GOP – USA TODAY

WASHINGTON – The IRS told employees Tuesday it is launching a major security assessment, citing threats and an “abundance of misinformation and false media postings” related to new funding the agency will receive
The announcement from IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig came days after the head of the National Treasury Employees Union said employees are increasingly worried about their safety amid hostile rhetoric from some Republicans. 
Rettig told employees the agency is conducting a “comprehensive review of existing safety and security measures.” That includes risk assessments of “the current environment” and monitoring security around entrances to the approximately 600 IRS facilities around the nation.
The agency has also increased engagement with law enforcement officials as it monitors threats.
“For me this is personal,” Rettig wrote in his message to employees, which USA TODAY obtained from the National Treasury Employees Union. “I’ll continue to make every effort to dispel any lingering misperceptions about our work.”
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Never a popular agency, the IRS came under increased criticism this month because of the $80 billion boost in funding it’s receiving from the major domestic policy bill President Joe Biden signed into law.
Biden sought the funding increase so the IRS could crack down on wealthy tax cheats after years of budget cuts that crippled its enforcement abilities.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has directed that any additional IRS resources “shall not be used to increase the share of small business or households below the $400,000 threshold that are audited relative to historical levels.”
But congressional Republicans and far-right extremists are warning a beefed-up IRS will unleash its full auditing power on hard-working Americans.
“Democrats’ new army of 87,000 IRS agents will be coming for you,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted on Aug. 9. 
McCarthy and other Republicans have also drawn comparisons between the IRS and the FBI, which recently searched former President Donald Trump’s Florida home to retrieve classified documents and other materials owned by the government. 
A state legislative candidate in Florida was banned from Twitter this month after advocating violence against the IRS, FBI and other federal agencies. 
A video from the Republican National Committee cites “growing fears about a growing IRS.”
“I am sure you are aware of the recent dangerous and false rhetoric by some politicians and others,” Anthony Reardon, head of the National Treasury Employees Union, wrote in a letter to Rettig Saturday. 
He asked Rettig to immediately take steps to enhance security and to minimize field work “while these harmful statements circulate on news outlets and on social media and continue to incite violence against federal employees.”
The last time the IRS conducted a comprehensive security review came after the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma, according to Reardon.
Because of past budget cuts, the IRS has fewer auditors today than at any time since World War II. 
The Treasury Department had previously assessed it could hire nearly 87,000 workers over the next decade with an $80 billion boost.
That would include new enforcement staff to help shrink the huge gap between the amount of taxes owed and what is actually collected. But the 87,000 figure also included replacements for the large number of IRS employees close to retirement. 
Funds would also be used to improve technology and taxpayer services. 
Biden wants to give the IRS more money to chase wealthy tax cheats. Will it work?


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