The Battle Between Tax Cheats and the IRS Is About to Heat Up

For the first time in years, rich Americans who cheat on their taxes face a growing threat from the Internal Revenue Service.

And, despite the Republican Party's best efforts to invoke the tax bogeyman in this month's midterm elections, it's a menace that's unlikely to go away.

At issue was the $80 billion earmarked to the IRS over the next decade in President Joe Biden's Inflation Reduction Act. Advocates argued reinvigorating the agency after a decade of debilitating budget cuts would raise as much as $1 trillion by forcing tax evaders to pay their fair share; opponents doubted their estimates and decried paying tens of thousands of agents to pick apart Americans' finances.

Charles Rettig, the IRS commissioner appointed by former President Donald Trump, made little secret where he stood after overseeing an agency with the fewest experienced auditors since World War II.

He often expressed his long-held wish through a reference to HBO’s Game of Thrones: “Funding to bring on the fire-breathing dragons.”

His term expired days after the 2022 midterms, and just before it became clear on Wednesday which party would control each chamber of Congress: Democrats retained a slim majority in the US Senate, while Republicans eked out more House seats. Democrats' better-than-expected margins make it more likely that former acting Commissioner Danny Werfel — Biden's nominee to succeed Rettig — will keep getting the money in future years.