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  • Saturday, 24 February 2024
IRS accused of using 'racial equity' for audits targeting White, Asian taxpayers

IRS accused of using 'racial equity' for audits targeting White, Asian taxpayers

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reportedly using the concept of “racial equity” to justify a controversial program that focuses on auditing high-income taxpayers, including some who are white and Asian.

The program, launched in 2020, aims to examine taxpayers whose tax returns reveal they have high incomes but do not report or appear to have underreported some of their taxable income, The Washington Examiner reported. In addition, it scrutinises taxpayers who have multiple offshore accounts.

But the program, known as the Global High Wealth Industry Group (GHWIG), is also being used to target certain racial groups, according to a report by the National Review. The publication cited a senior IRS official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying that the GHWIG “focuses on the ultra-wealthy, with an emphasis on abusive practices employed by high-wealth individuals and their teams. Unfortunately, it has taken a turn in the direction of race.”

According to the official, the IRS, as part of its new focus on racial equity, began to direct the group to target high-income taxpayers who are white and Asian.

“In practice, the IRS has implemented new policies to be more ‘inclusive’ and increase ‘racial equity’ in its pursuit of compliance,” the official said.

The National Review reported that the IRS is now using race as a factor in deciding which taxpayers are audited. Specifically, the report claimed that the agency is looking for “taxpayers who have cross-border income and have either an association with the country or countries of their recent heritage or with the country or countries of their parents or grandparents.”

Critics have condemned the alleged practice, saying it is discriminatory and unconstitutional.

“Targeting Americans for audits based on their race is unconstitutional and must be stopped immediately,” Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas said in a statement. “Not only is it unconstitutional, but it’s also counterproductive to the IRS’s primary goal of maximizing revenue collection.”

Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah said in a tweet: “It’s unconstitutional, un-American, and illegal for the IRS to target taxpayers because of their race. Period.”

Meanwhile, the IRS declined to comment on the accusations.

The report comes as the Biden administration has pushed for greater use of race-based policies to achieve social justice. The concept of “racial equity” – which is not the same as “equality” – is based on the idea that the only way to address racial disparities is to actively give certain racial groups preferential treatment.

In a 2020 executive order, President Biden said that his administration would “pursue a comprehensive approach to advancing equity for all, including people of colour and others who have been historically underserved, marginalized and adversely affected by persistent poverty and inequality.”

The order added: “Affirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our government.”

The issue of race has also been a topic of controversy in other areas of the Biden administration’s policies. For example, last month the US Department of Agriculture said it would offer debt relief to “socially disadvantaged” farmers and ranchers. The move was aimed at addressing disparities in access to resources for non-white farmers, but it has prompted criticism from white farmers who say they are being discriminated against.

In response to the backlash, the department said it would review its policies to ensure that they comply with the law.

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reportedly using the concept of “racial equity” to justify a controversial program that focuses on auditing high-income taxpayers, including some who are white and Asian.

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