STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.
Is the IRS trying to arm all its employees? No, that's not true: A job posting from the IRS Criminal Investigation unit, which carries firearms, does refer to carrying firearms. However, the unit consists of only 2,100 law enforcement agents, according to a spokesperson. In comparison, during fiscal year 2021, the IRS used close to 80,000 full-time equivalent positions for its work. There is also no evidence that the IRS will arm 87,000 new agents.
The claim was implied in a Facebook post on August 10, 2022. It included a screenshot of an IRS job description, in which one of the major duties of the job would be to "Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary." The caption of the post reads:
The IRS is hiring! The government wants its IRS agents armed and its citizens disarmed.
We'll let everyone just marinate on that for a second.
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Fri Aug 12 17:09:54 2022 UTC)
The screenshot used in the Facebook post was from a previous version of the job description for an IRS Criminal Investigation unit special agent. The "Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary" line of the job description appears to have been removed from the description sometime on August 11, 2022: Readers can compare two versions of the job posting from that day here and here.
In an email sent to Lead Stories on August 12, 2022, Anny Pachner, a spokesperson for the IRS Criminal Investigation unit, told us more about the IRS Criminal Investigation unit job description:
I can share that IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) has had a special agent job announcement on USAJobs since February 2022 and is expected to remain open through December of this year. There's the potential for filling up to 300 special agent positions. For context, CI had 3,500 agents in the mid-90's and currently 2,100 agents even though financial crime has only increased since the 90's.
The job description for the Criminal Investigation unit is not unusual for the unit, Pachner said. It is standard compared to some other federal law enforcement job descriptions, she said, which Lead Stories verified by looking at the special agent job description from the FBI.
Pachner also clarified that the bulk of the positions at the IRS are civilian positions:
The bulk of IRS's tax administration work is done by civilian auditors and revenue collectors. IRS Criminal Investigation oversees the entirety of the work related to criminal violations of the tax law and other financial crimes. In fiscal year 2021, CI's efforts resulted in the identification of over $10 billion in tax fraud and other financial crimes.
Lead Stories followed up with Pachner for information on why the "Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary" line was removed from the CI unit special agent job description. Pachner told us she would look into the change. We will update this story with any response.
There is another, related claim (see here, here and here) that the IRS is arming 87,000 agents. The 87,000 agents figure seems to reference an estimate about the Biden administration's American Families Plan. The Department of the Treasury published a report in 2021 that states that the IRS could hire 86,852 employees by 2031 if the plan for funding was enacted. But the report never specifies who those employees would be -- the IRS has plenty of positions in several divisions -- and it certainly does not state that all of the employees would be armed. The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which boosts the IRS budget by nearly $80 billion over the next 10 years and is referenced in some iterations of the 87,000 agents claim, does not specify how many employees the IRS can hire nor whether all of the employees will be armed.
2022-08-17T16:12:58Z 2022-08-17T16:12:58ZAdded information about the 87,000 IRS agents claim