President Trump’s first budget blueprint calls for a $239-million cut for the Internal Revenue Service despite Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s previous requests to hire IRS staff and modernize its technology.
The blueprint, released Thursday morning, would reduce Treasury Department funding by 4.1 percent and move funding toward combatting financial crime, terrorism financing and economic threats.
The budget says it’s intended to “bring renewed discipline to [Treasury] by focusing resources on collecting revenue” among other priorities. But cutting the IRS budget could complicated Mnuchin’s effort to rebuild the agency, outlined during his January 19 confirmation hearing.
Mnuchin said he was concerned about low staffing levels at the IRS, and worried how the agency could collect revenue with a smaller staff.
“Perhaps the IRS just started with way too many people, but I am concerned about the staffing of the IRS,” Mnuchin said. “That is an important part of fixing the tax gap,” referring to the difference between the amount of money owed to and received by the federal government.
Conservative lawmakers have long sought IRS funding cuts. Congress reduced the agency’s budget by $1.2 billion after its political targeting scandal.
The budget blueprint also calls for cutting Community Development Financial Institutions Fund grants, intended to bolster financial services access in underserved areas. That would save the government $210 million, a fraction of its $20 trillion debt.