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FIRST ON FOX: It’s a scenario that Republicans hope will sway voters in November’s midterm elections.
A new ad by the GOP Senate nominee in Illinois is capitalizing on the GOP’s messaging this summer to warn voters that new Internal Revenue Service funding approved by Democrats will lead to overzealous IRS agents targeting middle class Americans over their taxes.
“We love the new house, but we have a little problem with the agent. All of them,” say actors portraying a couple sitting on the couch, as their home is invaded by IRS agents, in the first general election TV commercial by Kathy Salvi.
Taking aim at Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth, who Salvi is challenging in November, the actors argued that “after Duckworth voted to hire 87,000 IRS agents to audit families, it’s been a little tense.”
The commercial shows the actors portraying the IRS agents combing through the couple’s, searching for unreported income, including finding 64 cents under a couch cushion and two dollars in winning lottery tickets.
“At least we have the election to fire Tammy Duckworth,” the actors say.
Salvi, an attorney and former Lake County assistant public defender, faces a steep climb in her long shot bid in the blue state of Illinois to upset Duckworth, a first term senator and former congresswoman who lost both of her legs while serving in combat as a U.S. Army helicopter pilot in the Iraq War. Salvi’s campaign says that the spot, which it shared first with Fox News on Friday, will run statewide in Illinois, and is backed by a high six-figures ad buy.
Republicans have been warning this summer that the $80 million boost to the IRS — that was included in the massive tax, climate, and health care package passed by Congressional Democrats and signed into law by President Biden last month — will lead to the targeting of middle-class Americans by what the GOP claims is an “army” of new IRS agents.
And Salvi’s spot appears to be one of the first statewide ads to spotlight the Republicans’ alarms over the IRS funding.
The Republican National Committee last month targeted Democrats for expanding the IRS, charged that the move will harm everyday Americans. And the actors portraying the IRS agents in the Salvi ad break out in laughter after the couple states they “thought they only audited rich people.”
The message comes despite the repeated insistence by Democrats that the extra funding is intended to make sure wealthy taxpayers and corporations don’t stiff the government.
The Biden administration and congressional Democrats have pushed back on the GOP claims, pointing to a letter from Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to the IRS stating that audit rates should not rise for households making less than $400,000 annually and that the new resources should not target families or businesses under that threshold.
Republicans counter that no language in the new law specifically prevents an increase of audits of middle-class Americans. And they spotlight that Democrats downed a GOP amendment which called for preventing the new funding from being used to audit lower wage earners.
Republicans have also repeatedly highlighted the figure of 87,000 new IRS agents, and the number is mentioned in the Salvi ad. But many of the new IRS employees will serve as support staff rather than agents and will replace those who’ve left an agency that’s been severely depleted over the past decade due to funding cuts enacted when Republicans controlled Congress.