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Secretary Yellen pushes back on claims middle-income Americans will face IRS audits

IRS: Distribution of economic impact payments will begin in the next three weeks
Posted at 12:18 PM, Aug 11, 2022

After the Senate passed a bill last week authorizing additional Internal Revenue Service agents, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said those making under $400,000 will not be more likely to be audited. 

In a letter obtained by CNN, she is directing additional agents to focus on "high-end noncompliance."

"Specifically, I direct that any additional resources—including any new personnel or auditors that are hired—shall not be used to increase the share of small business or households below the $400,000 threshold that are audited relative to historical levels," Yellen wrote in the letter. "This means that, contrary to the misinformation from opponents of this legislation, small business or households earning $400,000 per year or less will not see an increase in the chances that they are audited."

The hiring of additional agents has drawn the attention and ire of Republican lawmakers who claim the IRS will target low and middle-income Americans. 

“If that makes you feel better, you missed a lot,” Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham told CNN about hiring additional agents. “They're coming after waitresses and Uber drivers and everybody else to collect more taxes. If you think growing the IRS is good for you, you're wrong.”

A report from ProPublica in 2019 indicated that poorer Americans were almost as likely to face an audit than wealthy taxpayers. The organization noted a drop in audits among high-income earners.