IRS launches safety review amid threats to workers linked to conspiracy theories

WASHINGTON (AP) — In response to a growing number of threats posed by conspiracy theories that agents were going to aggressively target middle-income taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday that it would conduct a comprehensive review of security at its facilities. has been

Climate, health care and tax laws signed into law by the president Joe Biden Last week included $80 billion in funding for tax collection efforts. Although Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen specifically instructed the agency not to focus its attention on middle-class income taxpayers, misinformation quickly spread that agents were going to crack down on taxpayers of all income levels.

The unfounded claims also state that the IRS will distribute firearms to employees who are authorized to use lethal force, putting IRS employees at risk.

Now the agency leadership has started investigating agency security.

“We are conducting a comprehensive review of existing safety and security measures,” said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rattig of the agency’s 600 office locations nationwide. “This includes conducting a risk assessment,” he said, by monitoring perimeter security, the designation of restricted areas, exterior lighting, security around facilities entrances and other measures.

“It’s personal to me. I will continue to do everything I can to clear up any misconceptions about my job,” Retig said in a letter to employees Tuesday. I will continue to advocate for where my audience is.”

Rating, whose term in the IRS ends in November, is tasked with developing A plan on how to spend the new flow of money covered in the Inflation Reduction Act.

Along with anonymous online forums, high-ranking Republican politicians have spread lies about the IRS workforce and how the newly allocated money will be spent.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., Sent open letter on 16 August For Americans, calling on them not to take any new IRS positions, reinforcing false information about open roles in the agency and their access to firearms.

“The IRS is making it very clear that you not only need to be prepared to audit and investigate your fellow hardworking Americans, your neighbors and friends, you need to be prepared, and to use the words of the IRS. , they should be ready to kill,” he said in the letter.

Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said members have been vocal about their fears and concerns about their own safety.

“IRS employees are definitely very hardworking and honest, they do the business of funding the government. They are saying that they do not deserve to be treated as enemies of the government,” he said.

He said members of retirement age have expressed greater desire to retire due to increased focus on their jobs. more than half Out of the IRS enforcement workforce of 80,000, retirement is eligible.

Reardon said many workers reminisced about the 2010 Austin, Texas suicide attack, where Andrew Joseph Stack III intentionally crashed his single-engine plane into the Echelon office building, killing himself and the Internal Revenue Service. Manager Vernon Hunter killed.

“The rhetoric we are hearing now is dangerous,” Reardon said. “It’s putting these patriotic Americans at risk.”

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