The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) seems to be building an army.
The IRS spent nearly $11 million on guns, ammunition and “military-style equipment” between 2006 and 2014, according to a new report. IRS investment in heavy firearms and tactical gear is a new trend for the agency, but it follows a pattern of militarization repeated throughout the executive branch of the government.
In “The Militarization of America,” a report by OpenTheBooks.com, examines the kinds of weapons and tactical equipment federal agencies have purchased over the past ten years. The report shows that the IRS and other non-law enforcement agencies rapidly increased purchases of military gear in the past decade.
The amount the IRS spends on weapons and equipment has risen since 2006 from around half a million to $1,070,456 in 2014. Purchases of guns and ammunition spiked in 2011 to more than $2 million, according to the report. Over the same period, the number of special agents the IRS employed declined from more than 3,000 to just about 2,000 in 2014.
“The recent spikes in IRS purchasing could be related to the increase in recent ‘Identify Theft’ crimes and the prosecution of those crimes into sophisticated gang activity,” the report says. IRS special agents are armed with Smith and Wesson M&P15s, as well as Remington shotguns and Glock .40 caliber handguns.
The IRS Criminal Investigation division, which famously captured Al Capone, boasts their conviction rate is consistently more than 90 percent, higher than any other federal law enforcement agency.
While the number of IRS special agents has declined, the number of total federal agents has increased sharply. “The number of non-Defense Department federal officers authorized to make arrests and carry firearms (200,000) now exceeds the number of U.S. Marines (182,000),” former Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn and OpenTheBooks founder and CEO Andrew Andrzejewski said in a Wall Street Journal column.
“What exactly is the Obama administration up to?” Coburn and Andrzejewski ask.
The OpenTheBooks report shows other primarily administrative federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, The Department of Veterans Affairs, The Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Inspection Service, are also purchasing guns and ammunition gear.
Congress officially recognized OpenTheBooks as a private oversight organization in Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006, legislation co-sponsored by Coburn and President Barack Obama, who was at that time a senator from Illinois.