A recent report from watchdog organization Open the Books has shed light on the United States Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) spending on weapons, ammunition, and tactical hardware. The report reveals that the federal tax agency has spent at least $10 million on such equipment since 2020, with over $5 million spent in 2021 alone.
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The report, titled “The Militarization of Federal Bureaucracy – Updated Statistics Through March 31, 2023,” compiles data through the end of March and was released to the public on Thursday. According to the report, the IRS has spent $2.3 million on ammunition, $474,000 on Smith & Wesson rifles, and $463,000 on Beretta 1301 tactical shotguns since 2020.
The agency has also spent over $1 million on defensive tactical gear, including $243,000 on body armor vests and $1.2 million on ballistic shields. Additionally, the agency has acquired helmets, tactical lighting, holsters, and other gear.
The report comes at a time when the IRS is set to receive more funding from President Joe Biden’s multi-billion dollar Inflation Reduction Act. As a part of their job responsibilities, the agency has asked applicants to be prepared to be armed and ready to defend themselves or others from sudden physical threats, including the use of deadly force if necessary.
IRS special agents carry firearms because they are expected to manage cases involving organized crime and drug trafficking, according to officials. Prior to 2020, the agency had already spent over $30 million (adjusted for inflation) on weapons since 2006, including millions of rounds of ammunition.
Before the recent spending, the agency owned over 4,000 firearms, ranging from pump-action shotguns to semi-automatic rifles to sub-machine guns. The group’s report raises concerns about the government agency’s acquisition of military-style gear.
The issue of government agencies acquiring military-grade machinery has been a contentious one, with some arguing that such equipment can lead to the militarization of federal employees and a more aggressive approach of governing. Others argue that such equipment is necessary to protect government workers who face dangerous situations.
It remains to be seen how the report from Open the Books will impact the IRS’s funding requests in the future. However, the report highlights the ongoing debate around the use of military-style equipment by federal agencies and the need for transparency and accountability in government spending.