As the 118th Congress gears up this week with leadership elections, the Republican-led House is prioritizing slashing $80 billion of funding allocated to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last year to help the agency rebuild its workforce and its legacy IT systems.

In a Dec. 30 letter to his colleagues, House Majority Leader-elect Steve Scalise, R-La., said he plans for Republicans to introduce a bill in the first two weeks of 2023 that would eliminate the billions of dollars granted to the IRS over the next decade through the Inflation Reduction Act.

The Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act “rescinds tens of billions of dollars allocated to the IRS for 87,000 new IRS agents in the Inflation Reduction Act,” Scalise’s letter said.

The $80 billion in multi-year spending will give the agency a shot to rebuild its workforce and bring its IT infrastructure into the 21st century, including bringing on the next generation of the agency’s workforce and making long-deferred investments in its IT that will improve taxpayer services.

The agency currently has a workforce of about 83,000 employees but expects well over half of the employees will retire or leave the agency by 2030.

A 2021 Congressional Budget Office report found the IRS would more than double its workforce under this multi-billion-dollar spending plan. Much of that hiring, however, is needed just to keep pace with the agency’s rate of attrition. In its 2021 report to Congress, the IRS said it had 33,000 fewer employees than it did a decade ago.

The House Republicans’ planned bill would take aim at the agency’s plan to hire nearly 100,000 employees over the coming years.

With the proposed legislation, House Republican leaders are attempting to keep a promise they made before 2022’s midterm elections: to make defunding the IRS a top priority.

However, neither side of the aisle can proceed with their political agendas until a new Speaker of the House is decided. Republican Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. – a top contender for the position – was still trying today to win election as House Speaker after failing to do so in several votes.

The Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act will likely face an uphill battle in the Senate, where Democrats hold a majority of seats.

Rep. Scalise’s letter includes 10 additional “ready-to-go” bills on his list of legislative priorities for House Republicans, claiming that they reflect meetings held with the incoming committee chairpersons on how to “hit the ground running” in this new session of Congress.

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