The Internal Revenue Service told workers Tuesday it will review security at its facilities following increased threats from extremists related to new funding the agency will receive from the Biden administration.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said a risk assessment will be conducted at each of the agency’s 600 buildings to determine what additional security measures are needed, according to a letter sent to employees.
Tuesday’s announcement to review safety at IRS buildings is the first since the bombing at the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995 that killed 168 people.
“For me this is personal,” Rettig wrote in his message to employees. “I’ll continue to make every effort to dispel any lingering misperceptions about our work.”
Rettig’s announcement comes after the National Treasury Employees Union said workers expressed concerns about negative rhetoric from some Republicans.
“NTEU has been busy pushing back against the false narratives surrounding the 10-year, $80 billion investment into the Internal Revenue Service” with the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Biden approved the funding increase for the IRS, after years of budget cuts, so the agency could crack down on what he called wealthy “tax cheats.”
While Biden reassured Americans last week, as he signed the Inflation Reduction Act, that “no one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay a penny more in federal taxes,” some Republicans have warned the increased funding will allow the IRS to audit more hard-working Americans.
“Democrats’ new army of 87,000 IRS agents will be coming for you – with 710,000 new audits for Americans who earn less than $75k,” House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted earlier this month.
Other Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, have tried to silence negative and threatening rhetoric about the IRS and FBI, following this month’s search on former President Donald Trump’s Florida residence at Mar-a-Lago.
“The Republican party is the party of law and order. Our party stands with the men and women who serve on the thin blue line at the federal, state and local level,” Pence commented during a speech last week in New Hampshire. “Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.”
Since the search, fears of violence against federal agencies have escalated.
“We see what’s out there in terms of social media. Our workforce is concerned about their safety,” Rettig said in an interview Tuesday with The Washington Post. “The comments being made are extremely disrespectful to the agency, to the employees and to the country.”
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