Fact check: Republicans lie about Biden's plan to crack down on rich tax cheats

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The National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting 15 Democrats with false claims.

The House GOP's campaign arm has released a series of false new ads charging that Democrats want to spend billions of dollars to spy on Americans' spending habits.

The National Republican Campaign Committee announced Wednesday that it had "launched a new ad campaign targeting 15 vulnerable Democrats on their plan to let the IRS spy on the bank accounts of nearly every American family."

In a version of the ad targeting Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), a narrator intones, "What's scarier than Halloween? Democrats spending billions to hire an army of IRS agents to spy on your bank account. Stephanie Murphy, Nancy Pelosi, and Joe Biden's plan would give the federal government new authority to monitor your spending."

"Democrats' plan to spy on the bank accounts of everyday Americans who spend over $10,000 per year is downright scary," said Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN), the committee's chair, in a press release published on Oct. 27. "Voters will reject Democrats' efforts to exert more government control over their personal finances."

The ad's two major claims are both false.

The plan does not call for "billions to hire an army of IRS agents to spy" on anyone. President Joe Biden's plan proposes to invest more money in the Internal Revenue Service, which has lost much of its funding in recent years and had to reduce its audit rate for millionaires by 61% as a result, to enforce tax laws.

By investing $40 billion more in agents to crack down on rich tax evaders, experts say the federal government could bring in more than $100 billion over the next decade just in money already owed under existing tax law.

"There's just a ton of money out there that we're not collecting," former IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti told the Washington Post in June. "Why don't we collect some of that before we raise taxes on the people that are already paying?"

And while Biden has proposed that banks be required to provide some additional annual information about accounts, it would in no way let the IRS "monitor your spending."

The proposal would merely give the agency year-end totals of how much was deposited and spent from individual accounts, a way to spot unreported income and stop a tactic commonly used to manipulate the system.

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig wrote in a letter to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in September, reviewed by CNBC, that this "new data will provide the IRS with a lens into otherwise opaque sources of income with historically lower levels of reporting accuracy."

Tax experts predict that these two reforms would actually mean fewer audits for honest people — especially those in lower- or middle-income tax brackets.

But rather than supporting efforts to enforce the laws on the books, Republican lawmakers have spent months railing against any effort to crack down on wealthy tax evaders who do not pay what they legally owe.

In addition to Rep. Murphy of Florida, the GOP ads will target Reps. Cindy Axne (IA), Antonio Delgado (NY), Jared Golden (ME), Jahana Hayes (CT), Andy Kim (NJ), Dan Kildee (MI), Tom Malinowski (NJ), Marie Newman (IL), Tom O'Halleran (AZ), Chris Pappas (NH), Katie Porter (CA), Kim Schrier (WA), Tom Suozzi (NY), and Susan Wild (PA).

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.