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IRS Launches Safety Review Amid Threats To Employees Linked To Conspiracy Theories

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Responding to an increasing variety of threats borne of conspiracy theories that agents were going to aggressively goal middle income taxpayers, the Internal Revenue Service announced Tuesday that it was conducting a comprehensive review of safety at its facilities.

The climate, healthcare and tax laws signed into law by President Joe Biden last week included $80 billion in funding for tax collection efforts. Although Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen specifically directed the agency to not focus its attention on taxpayers with middle class incomes, misinformation spread rapidly on line that agents were going to crack down on taxpayers of all earnings levels.

The baseless assertions also said the IRS would distribute firearms to employees authorized to used deadly force, prompting threats to the IRS employees.

Now agency leadership has launched an examination of agency safety.

“We’re conducting a comprehensive review of existing safety and security measures,” said Chuck Rettig, IRS commissioner in regards to the agency’s 600 office locations nationwide. “This includes conducting risk assessments,” he said, by monitoring perimeter security, designations of restricted areas, exterior lighting, security around entrances of facilities and other measures.

“For me that is personal. I’ll proceed to make every effort to dispel any lingering misperceptions about our work,” Rettig said in a Tuesday letter to employees. “And I’ll proceed to advocate on your safety in every venue where I actually have an audience.”

Rettig, whose term on the IRS ends in November, is tasked with developing a plan on the way to spend the brand new infusion of funds included within the Inflation Reduction Act.

Together with anonymous online forums, high-ranking Republican politicians have spread falsehoods in regards to the IRS workforce and the way the newly allocated funds can be spent.

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., sent an August 16 open letter to Americans, calling on them to not take any latest IRS positions, reinforcing false details about open roles on the agency and their access to firearms.

“The IRS is making it very clear that you simply not only have to be able to audit and investigate your fellow hardworking Americans, your neighbors and friends, you might want to be ready and, to make use of the IRS’s words, willing, to kill them,” he said within the letter.

Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said members have been vocal about their fears and worries about their safety.

“IRS employees are actually very hard working and honest, they do the business of funding the federal government. They’re saying they don’t should be treated because the enemy of the federal government,” he said.

He added that members who’re of retirement age have expressed a greater desire to retire as a consequence of the increased attention on their jobs. Greater than half of the IRS’ enforcement workforce of 80,000 is retirement eligible.

Reardon said several employees have talked about being reminded of the 2010 Austin, Texas suicide attack, where Andrew Joseph Stack III deliberately crashed his single engine plane into the Echelon office constructing, killing himself and Internal Revenue Service manager Vernon Hunter.

“The rhetoric we’re hearing now’s dangerous” Reardon said. “It’s putting these patriotic Americans in danger.”

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