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White House vows to veto first GOP bill on cutting IRS funding

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The White House vowed Monday that President Biden would veto House Republicans’ first bill, which would claw back tens of billions of dollars from the IRS.

Republicans say the legislation, due for a vote Monday night, is intended to prevent Americans from facing an onslaught of audits from an IRS newly emboldened by money granted by Mr. Biden and the Democrat-controlled Congress last year.

But the White House, in a statement, said Republicans are trying to protect wealthy tax cheats from being caught, and said Mr. Biden won’t sign the bill even in the unlikely event it cleared Congress.

“With their first economic legislation of the new Congress, House Republicans are making clear that their top economic priority is to allow the rich and multi-billion dollar corporations to skip out on their taxes, while making life harder for ordinary, middle-class families that pay the taxes they owe,” the White House budget office said.

The veto threat is the first of the new Congress, but it’s certain to be joined by many others as Mr. Biden and the newly ascendant House Republicans clash over policy.

While Democrats still hold a majority in the Senate, the GOP has taken the reins in the House, upending two years of total Democrat control of Washington’s political branches.

Republicans are eager to flex that control and sharpen differences with Mr. Biden.

The IRS money was included in last year’s climate-spending bill, which Democrats powered through using the budget process to circumvent a GOP filibuster in the Senate.

Democrats allocated some of the money to technology upgrades and customer service, but the biggest pool of cash was to pressure the IRS to do more audits.

The bill was silent on who would be audited, but the Biden administration insists it will use the money chiefly to go after wealthier taxpayers, who have seen audit rates drop.

Analysts say that’s due in large part to the IRS’s staffing woes. The agency just doesn’t have the manpower to devote to the sort of complex audits required for wealthier taxpayers.

Republicans, though, predict that average taxpayers are also going to see more audits, and they say the IRS’s track record should leave all Americans concerned about how it will spend the additional cash.

The GOP’s new bill would rescind all the unspent IRS money from the climate bill. The Congressional Budget Office said that amounts to $71 billion.

CBO said taking back that money would sap the IRS’s future collections by roughly $186 billion over the next decade, leaving a net loss to Uncle Sam of $114 billion.



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