The House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing today to deliberate over President Biden’s fiscal year (FY) 2024 budget blueprint, and it’s no surprise that the President’s numbers were met with pushback from Republican lawmakers.

Specifically, several committee members were alarmed by the amount allotted for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), to the tune of $43.2 billion.

“Democrats handed the IRS an $80 billion raise last year. Taxpayers are now asked in this budget to hand the IRS another $43.2 billion,” committee Chair Jason Smith, R-Mo., said during the March 10 hearing. “I have to ask, is that a joke?”

“[Families] can’t even get their own refunds back because of the historic backlog at the IRS,” Rep. Smith continued, adding, “and they can’t get through to a human at the agency because of the terrible customer service.”

Republicans made it a priority in the 118th Congress to try to slash that $80 billion of funding allocated to the IRS last year to help the agency rebuild its workforce and its legacy IT systems. The Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act passed the House but is currently in limbo in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Treasury Department Secretary, Janet Yellen, countered the backlash at the proposed increase in IRS funding.

“Our new investment in the IRS is already paying off. Taxpayers are getting drastically improved customer service this year,” Yellen testified during the committee hearing. “For example, we’ve answered hundreds of thousands of more phone calls during this filing season than at this time last year.”

This week, the Senate confirmed Danny Werfel to serve as the IRS commissioner and take the lead on the funding to help modernize the agency’s business systems and bolster its customer experience (CX).

President Biden’s budget proposal had a hefty amount of additional CX spending provisions, as well as other tech nuggets – including money for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, the Technology Modernization Fund, more for the CHIPS Act, and a major pay increase for Feds.

However, it’s clear from the House Ways and Means Committee’s first hearing on the FY24 budget, that the proposal will have to fight an uphill battle.

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Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan
Cate Burgan is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.