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Cotton falsely claims Biden is letting the IRS spy on people's bank accounts

Republican Sen. Tom Cotton claimed President Joe Biden’s plan to crack down on tax cheats is a ploy to conduct surveillance of all Americans.

By Oliver Willis - May 24, 2021
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Tom Cotton

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) claimed on Sunday that the Biden administration is attempting to “track the money” individuals have in their bank accounts by increasing funding to enable the IRS to go after tax cheats.

During an appearance on Fox Business’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” Cotton did not correct host Maria Bartiromo when she said a proposed $80 billion addition to IRS funding would “help the banks give the Treasury direct access into our bank accounts.”

Cotton responded with the long-debunked Republican claim that the IRS had been misused during the Obama administration to “persecute Christian groups and conservative groups.”

The senator went on to claim that the IRS wants to “track the money that you have in your checking account or your savings account or your 401(k). Suffice to say, I don’t think many Republicans are going to support that in the Congress,” he concluded.

But the Biden administration’s proposal is very different from what was described by Cotton and the Fox host.

The administration has said it hopes to hire 87,000 new workers at the IRS over the next decade as part of a plan to crack down on tax cheats.

The plan was laid out in a report released by the Treasury Department in May titled “The American Families Plan Tax Compliance Agenda.”

Focusing on “high-end evasion,” the report notes that uncollected taxes have in the past “come at a cost to American households” and those who pay their taxes, resulting in reduced spending on necessary priorities for the government.

The report projects that an additional $700 billion in taxes would be collected over a decade if the reforms are put in place, a figure that dwarfs the $80 billion sought for additional enforcement.

According to Politico, the IRS has said that uncollected taxes totaled about $554 billion in 2019, while IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said the number could be as high as $1 trillion per year.

The report also calls for enhanced reporting on transactions through business and personal accounts that the IRS projected could generate $460 billion in revenue over a decade.

Cotton’s mischaracterization of the Biden proposal comes in concert with a campaign by conservative groups to attack the proposed reforms and keep in place the existing system, which benefits high earners.

The Republican opposition runs counter to the feelings of a majority of Americans.

A May poll from Data for Progress showed that 60% of respondents support increased IRS enforcement, including 40% of Republicans.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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