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IRS employee numbers not out of line

July 22, 2012
The Journal

To the editor:

Regarding your recent editorials about the Affordable Care Act.

Republicans dialed back the claim Obamacare was the biggest tax increase ever when the facts showed it to be less gigantic than many bills, including the Revenue Act of 1951, the Reagan tax increase of 1982, and the Bush tax increase of 1990. Once all taxes related to the ACA are in effect in 2019, this gigantic tax weighs in under one half of 1 percent of GDP. So how about the tens of thousands of new IRS agents?

For two years conservative blogs and politicians have been spreading the debunked claim that 16,000 new IRS agents would be added. (Credit to The Journal for mentioning the more valid estimate of 2,700.) Ron Paul added the fear factor when he told cable viewers, "Just think about it - 16,500 armed bureaucrats coming to make this program work - if it was a good program and everybody liked it, you wouldn't need 16,500 thugs coming with their guns and putting you in jail if you didn't follow all the rules." In fact insurance companies will issue forms certifying taxpayers have insurance, just like lenders submit forms to verify interest paid on a mortgage. No armed agents at our doors. But how gigantic will the IRS become?

There were 96,210 IRS employees in September 2008. There were 91,380 in September 2011. If 2,700 new employees are added to administer the new law - mostly informing individuals and businesses of the law's requirements and tax incentives - the total number of employees remains within the range of the last 20 years.

Even the addition of 16,500 would result in less than the 116,673 employed in 1992. Were Republicans warning us then about this massive number of thuggish clerks and accountants? No, but one year later they shouted from Capitol Hill that Clinton's tax increases would kill jobs, kill small businesses, and kill the recovery. The only way to grow the economy and create jobs was tax cuts.

The last two decades proved them wrong on both counts. Yet there they go again.

Patricia Missling




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