House will slash IRS budget over Lois Lerner targeting scandal

Three amendments combined to cut more than $1.1 billion from the IRS's budget for fiscal year 2015.
By Gabrielle Levy  |  July 15, 2014 at 5:39 PM
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WASHINGTON, July 15 (UPI) -- Late Monday night, the House approved three amendments to slash more than $1 billion in funding to the IRS, cheered by Republicans as retribution for the scandal in which the agency allegedly targeted conservative political groups.

The House is considering the Financial Services Appropriations bill for 2015, which includes funding for the beleaguered agency. Funding for the IRS actually increased for fiscal year 2014, to $11.3 billion from the sequestration-reduced $11.2 billion in 2013.

If Monday's three amendments are passed into law, this year's $10.95 billion appropriation would fall to $9.8 billion, with the savings going to deficit reduction.

"The IRS has been targeting American taxpayers based on their political beliefs for the past four or five years," said Rep. Bill Huizenga, whose amendment to chop a whopping $788 million from the IRS's budget was approved by voice vote.

"During this period, a culture of shading the truth was fostered and developed by directors and administrators throughout the IRS. Now, this culture within the IRS has grown into one of stonewalling, double talk and mistrust," he said. "It is up to Congress to use the power of the purse to rein in the IRS and force them to conduct their analysis in an unbiased manner."

Additional amendments, cutting $353 million and $2 million, from Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., and Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., respectively, were also approved by voice vote.

The scandal for which the cuts appear to be payback erupted in 2013, when the IRS revealed it had given extra scrutiny to groups based on their names. The tax exemption office, headed by Lois Lerner, has defended its use of search terms such as "tea party" to identify groups that were potentially ineligible for tax exempt status because of political activity, claiming that it was merely trying to be efficient with a limited staff.

Appropriations Committee ranking member Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., lamented that the reductions would mean more trouble ahead for the agency.

"This will prevent the IRS from going after tax cheats," Serrano said.

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