According to an April report released by watchdog group OpenTheBooks.com, the Internal Revenue Service has spent $10 million since 2020 on guns, ammunition, and other tactical gear in an effort to militarize the agency.
The report revealed that the IRS and 102 other agencies outside the Department of Defense invested a combined total of $3.7 billion since 2006 – adjusted for inflation – on weapons, ammunition, and military-style equipment. OpenTheBooks.com stated that 76 of the 102 are rank-and-file regulatory agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Social Security Administration, Veterans Affairs, and Health and Human Services.
“There are now more federal agents with arrest and firearm authority (200,000) than U.S. Marines (186,000),” the watchdog group’s report noted.
Since 2006, the IRS has purchased $35.2 million worth of guns, ammunition, and other tactical gear for its special agents. The agency ramped up its weapon purchases in 2020 and 2021, spending $10 million since the beginning of the COVID lockdowns.
OpenTheBooks.com’s report revealed a breakdown of the agency’s recent purchases, which showed that since 2020 the IRS spent $2.3 million on duty ammunition, $1.2 million on ballistic shields, $474,000 on Smith & Wesson rifles, $467,000 on tactical lighting, $463,000 on Baretta shotguns, $354,000 on tactical gear bags, $267,000 on ballistic helmets, and $243,000 on body armor vests.
The agency also spent $1.3 million on unidentified purchases labeled only “various other gear for criminal investigation agents.”
The IRS already had 4,500 firearms, including shotguns, rifles, and submachine guns, and 5 million rounds of ammunition in its gun locker before kicking off the 2020 spending spree that significantly bulked up its arsenal.
Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, signed in August, provided the IRS with over $80 billion in additional funding, which the agency plans to use to hire more than 86,000 employees within the next decade.
Last year, the IRS created a job posting seeking “Criminal Investigation Special Agents” that would be required to “carry a firearm” and be willing to use “deadly force, if necessary.”
With 2,100 special agents, the IRS is the top 50 largest police departments in the nation.
“[Criminal investigation] special agents have been using weapons throughout their history as they have consistently found themselves investigating the most dangerous criminals involved in organized crime, drugs and gangs,” an IRS spokesperson told OpenTheBooks.com. “These types of cases are typically worked in conjunction with other state and federal law enforcement agencies. Firearms and equipment are also used for training purposes. Special agents are required to train and qualify for their weapons and must participate in quarterly trainings to maintain proficiency.”
The watchdog report also revealed that Health and Human Services has spent $154 million since 2006 on weapons, ammunition, and military-style equipment. Before 2020, the agency had 8 million rounds of ammunition and 461 special agents. Additionally, the Office of Inspector General possessed 1,300 guns.
The HHS told OpenTheBooks.com that it needed the equipment for agents who participate in undercover work and provide assistance to law enforcement.
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