IRS Commissioner Calls for Thousands of More Employees

IRS Commissioner Calls for Thousands of More Employees

Aaron Schwartz/CNP/INSTARimages

IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said Monday that the tax agency needs to increase its overall employment level by about 10,000 employees to be fully effective. “We're at 90,000 now,” he told students at American University’s business school. “I think to get into a right-size position over the next two to three years, we need to be above 100,000, but not that much above 100,000.”

Marking the one-year anniversary of his taking the helm at the tax agency, Werfel laid out his vision of a fully modernized and digitized IRS, a project made possible by the $80 billion over 10 years in additional resources provided by the Inflation Reduction Act — an amount that has already been reduced by $20 billion by Republican lawmakers.

“As I consider the world that you live in and what you have come to expect to do digitally, on your phone and tablets, without paper, from wherever you are in the world, I have come to realize that the modernization of the IRS is a generational imperative,” Werfel told the assembled students.

Werfel made the case for Congress to provide the remaining $60 billion from the promised funding, saying it would be money well spent. “The IRS is a good investment,” he said. “Not only are we going to ease stress and anxiety and create an easier way for you to do your taxes, get things done in less time, get your issues resolved, protect you from scams, but the work we do to recover taxes from those that are noncompliant, it generally runs about a 6-to1 ratio of $6 for every $1 invested.”

The IRS hasn’t had more than 100,000 employees in more than two decades, and since 2010, repeated budget cuts have pushed total employment levels down from about 94,000 to roughly 73,000 by 2019. IRS employment peaked at 123,000 in 1988, during the last year of the Reagan administration.