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October 1, 2023

Where TF Is the IRS Supposed to Find 87,000 Agents?

While various factions bicker over the Inflation Reduction Act, we have one question: where is the IRS supposed to find 87,000 agents!?

In case you haven’t heard or seen your aunt sharing Impact font memes about it, Senate Democrats want to throw some cash at the IRS (among other things not getting into here):

The cash injection is expected to provide for a massive hiring surge at IRS, which has seen its staffing levels drop precipitously since 2010. IRS has shed 17,000 enforcement workers over the last decade, for example, as well as nearly 9,000 customer service representatives. The Democratic bill would provide $3 billion for taxpayer services, $46 billion for enforcement, $25 billion for operations support and nearly $5 billion for business systems modernization. The extra funding for enforcement would only go toward taxpayers making more than $400,000 annually.

So the IRS is struggling with recruitment and retention just like every other business and firm with a need for accountants in the last two years. In 2019, 74,454 people worked for the IRS. And they think they’re going to double that number in this market? With all due respect, HOW??

Earlier this year, the IRS said in a report to Congress only about 20% of callers have been getting through to live IRS agents and estimated that more than 3 million tax returns are still being processed from 2021. “We are an aging workforce, and we know we need to prepare for the future,” IRS Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer Corbin McFarlane said to CBS News.

On top of its aging workforce, the IRS has struggled to stay competitive salary-wise. Mind you they are competing with Walmart in some cases.

This from Federal News Network back in March:

The agency is still stuck paying many of its front-line employees who open mail and process incoming tax returns $15 an hour.

While the private sector is almost always able to offer higher pay than the federal government, an especially competitive labor market at this stage in the COVID-19 pandemic has made it even harder for the IRS to attract in-demand workers.

Rettig said the agency competes with retail giants like Amazon, Walmart and Target for the same labor pool.

While some of these retailers are offering up to $20 an hour, Rettig said the IRS was, until recently, paying its lowest-paid staff as much as $14.57 an hour.

Entry level Internal Revenue Agent requirements include a four-year degree or experience along with 30 semester hours of accounting coursework. Where is the IRS going to pull <90,000 people meeting this requirement from? Has anyone told them there is a critical accountant shortage?

Tell your nearest conservative uncle not to worry, there’s no way the IRS is going to find this many agents.

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  1. They’re not competitive salary wise almost across the board. Even CI special agents start at grades 7 or 9 and at step 1 with no prior federal experience. In a HCOL area a grade 9 step 1 starts around 71k with the extra 25% LEAP pay. New associates at Big 4 are making that out of school and the IRS is looking for people with experience. It’s a shame because it could be a great career if they were able to up the salaries more. But the federal wages haven’t kept up at all with private sector.

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