AMAC Exclusive – By Shane Harris
If Republicans are successful in retaking either chamber of Congress this fall, investigating potential racial discrimination by the IRS as a result of Biden’s “equity” agenda should be a top priority.
As AMAC Newsline reported last month, the Treasury Department (which oversees the IRS) released its “Equity Action Plan” (EAP) last October in accordance with a Biden Executive Order directing every federal agency to develop and implement an “ambitious whole-of-government equity agenda that matches the scale of the opportunities and challenges that we face.” The Order specifically calls on administration officials to address “entrenched disparities in our laws and public policies” – in other words, to infuse the far-left equity agenda into the everyday functions of the government. This directive is all the more terrifying given that Democrats in Congress just signed off on Biden’s plan to hire 87,000 new IRS agents.
For the IRS, Biden’s equity Executive Order by definition means taking into account an individual’s race, sex, or other immutable physical characteristics when it comes to tax collection practices and procedures. The Treasury Department’s EAP makes a number of references to “taxation equity,” suggesting that the Biden administration views the tax code itself as potentially discriminatory.
Currently, the biggest obstacle to the IRS considering race, ethnicity, and sex when making policy – and the clearest reason to be skeptical of the Biden administration’s narrative of “systemic racism” in tax policy – are laws that prevent the agency from collecting demographic data. But as the Treasury’s EAP outlines, the Office of Tax Policy “has made significant progress in developing statistically useful data for studying the impact of tax policies on racial and ethnic groups using publicly available ZIP-Code level data,” in effect executing an end-run around the clear constraints set by Congress.
In another alarming development this May, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (supposedly an “independent, nonpartisan” entity that collects information about how well executive agencies are doing their job) recommended that Congress “consider revising relevant laws to facilitate secure interagency data sharing,” requesting that the Census Bureau be allowed to share demographic information about taxpayers with the IRS. The GAO explicitly states in its recommendation that such action should be taken in order to “assess the effects of tax laws…by demographics such as households’ race, ethnicity, and sex.” The Treasury Department agrees, saying in its EAP that “the imputed data [on taxpayer race and sex] will also allow [the Office of Tax Policy] to evaluate the equity implications of any tax policy proposal considered by the Administration.”
It’s worth noting that, if certain parts of the tax code or IRS actions are actually discriminatory, the Biden administration – or any interested party for that matter – already has the ability to challenge such statutes and actions in court under federal civil rights law. Instead, Biden’s army of woke bureaucrats is simply asserting that such nebulous “systemic racism” might exist, and then using that assertion as a pretext to justify ending race- and sex-blind enforcement of the tax code. In effect, the Biden IRS is giving life to the very monster they are ostensibly seeking to destroy, intentionally introducing potential biases into the tax system and creating the possibility of racially-motivated actions, all in the name of “equity.”
This prospect should be frightening for every American, and raises a number of difficult questions for both the President and top tax officials. Do they believe that the tax code is racist? Why? What does the Biden IRS plan to do with taxpayer demographic information once they have it? Do Americans have any guarantees that government tax collectors won’t use information on race and sex in determining who gets audited and who is eligible for certain tax benefits? After the IRS not taking demographic information into account in its decision-making for the entirety of its existence, why change now if the goal is not to introduce racial discrimination into tax enforcement?
While it is unlikely that Democrats in Congress will seek answers to any of these important questions, Republicans can and should do so if they win back control this fall. Subpoenaing all “equity”-related communications of top tax officials and conducting oversight of how auditors are determining who to target is a good place to start.
If Congressional investigators discover that the IRS is now engaged in race-based tax enforcement, it will be a scandal that dwarfs the IRS’s discrimination against conservative non-profits a decade ago. Just like Americans expect the justice system to be blind – no special favors for any groups, just equal application of laws and facts – they should expect the same in the application of tax laws.
Nobody likes paying taxes. And there are undoubtedly legitimate concerns about individuals and businesses taking advantage of the tax code to avoid paying their fair share. But until now, taxpayers could at least be confident that the government wasn’t openly enforcing the tax code differently based on someone’s skin color, gender, sexual orientation, or some other arbitrary factor. That no longer appears to be the case – a fact for which top Treasury Department officials and ultimately Biden himself must be made to answer.
Shane Harris is a writer and political consultant from Southwest Ohio. You can follow him on Twitter @Shane_Harris_.