- Senate Finance chair Ron Wyden pilloried the GOP for cutting IRS funding.
- He compared those GOP lawmakers to “the guy in the hot dog suit,” referring to a comedy sketch.
- Democrats wanted to increase IRS funding after years of budget cuts, but it’s unclear whether they’ll succeed.
On Thursday, Senator Ron Wyden lambasted the GOP for cutting IRS funding, which has led to a historic backlog of unprocessed tax returns amidst new pandemic responsibilities.
“Year after year, there have been Republican budget cuts that have decimated the ability of the agency to meet people’s needs,” Wyden, the chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a Senate floor speech. “Now, Republicans are the guy in the hot dog suit, swearing up and down that they’re trying to find the guy who did this.”
—Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) May 19, 2022
Wyden was referencing the Hot Dog Car Sketch from the
series “I Think You Should Leave.” In the sketch, a hot dog shaped car drives into a store, and the shoppers are trying to figure out what to do and who crashed through the door. Among them is a pretty likely suspect: A guy dressed up as a hot dog, played by series co-creator Tim Robinson. He tries to deflect the blame, saying that “we’re all trying to find the guy who did this!” Ultimately, the hot dog man flees the scene (but not without stealing several shirts first).
The Tax Policy Center found that the IRS’s budget has shrunk by over 20% in the last decade alone. Chuck Rettig, the agency’s commissioner, wrote in a Yahoo! Money op-ed that “without long-term, predictable funding, the IRS will continue to face severe limitations, unable to provide the service taxpayers deserve and need.” Rettig — and the Treasury Department — have been outspoken about the embattled agency’s need for adequate funding.
Underfunding, compounded with new pandemic responsibilities like distributing monthly child tax credits and child tax credits, led to a build-up of millions of unprocessed tax returns in 2021. Delayed tax refund checks meant that some taxpayers were struggling to afford groceries, childcare, and even their homes. Rettig has said the backlog should be cleared before December.
Democrats included $80 billion fresh funding for the IRS in their House-approved Build Back Better legislation. But that legislation died in the Senate and it’s unclear whether they will be able to revive a smaller version of the package due to resistance from at least one conservative Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia.