House Republicans are proposing funding $14 billion in aid to Israel by cutting additional money for divisions of the IRS tasked with making sure wealthy people and tax cheats pay their fair share, according to a new bill filed Monday.
The proposal—which would allocate money for weapons and “military education and training” for Israel, among other things—seeks to undo the funding to the IRS that came from last year’s Inflation Reduction Act. That law allocated $80 billion to the agency over the next decade; $20 billion of that was later cut in a deal to raise the debt ceiling. The GOP legislation calls for further cuts to the IRS, specifically the division tasked with enforcement and conducting investigations into financial crimes.
The bill would also eliminate a task force intended to design a free direct e-file tax return system that could wind up competing with TurboTax—a change that the company, and politicians, particularly Republicans, have fought. Advocates have said such a system could save taxpayers billions of dollars, and millions of hours of prep time, per year.
The GOP’s latest bill matches $14 billion Biden’s funding request for Israel in number—but not in its proposed approach. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that helping “the wealthy and big corporations cheat on their taxes” to fund aid to Israel’s war effort is “the definition of backwards.”
The proposed $14 billion in aid to Israel is already roughly four times what the US normally provides per year. And while Biden’s proposal sought to bundle aid to Israel with aid to Ukraine, as my colleague Noah Lanard pointed out, neither his nor the GOP proposal specifically earmarks any aid to deal with the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza—where more than 8,500 people have been killed by Israeli air strikes since Oct. 7, according to Gaza health authorities. (Biden’s proposal instead asks for about $9 billion for humanitarian aid for Israel, Palestine, and Ukraine collectively.)
The thought of—as my colleague David Corn put it in Mother Jones‘ internal Slack channel—”letting billionaires cheat to pay for bombs to drop on civilians” is jarring, particularly given the more than 3,500 children that Gaza health authorities say have been killed by the Israeli airstrikes; heartbreaking photos and videos have shown kids covered in blood and dust and collapsing while coping with living through the trauma of war and losing loved ones.
Defunding the IRS, though, has been a priority for House Republicans for decades, as my colleague Michael Mechanic has reported. Past removals of funding have led to less audits of the super-wealthy. The latest bill bears several similarities to the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act, which House Republicans passed earlier this year in a bid to rescind 90 percent of the proposed funding to the IRS via the Inflation Reduction Act. (That bill has yet to come up for a vote in the Senate.)
The GOP funding bill is unlikely to pass muster with Senate Democrats, who have called for bundling aid to Israel and Ukraine—and counted the Inflation Reduction Act, and its increased funding for the IRS, as a win.