Public outcry as well as pushback from banks and financial institutions of all sizes could force the Biden Administration to reconsider its proposal which would grant the Internal Revenue Service access to millions of daily transactions into or out of personal and business financial accounts.
The proposal would mandate the reporting of every deposit and withdrawal above $600, which is drastically lower than the current “above $10,000” threshold for mandated reporting under the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970. Banks and other financial institutions are also already required to report any cash deposits and withdrawals which seem “suspicious.”
But according to President Joe Biden, a much lower threshold is necessary to ensure “the super-wealthy” cannot hide income from the IRS.
Most of the criticism of Biden’s “anything above $600” proposal centers around the right of privacy expected by law-abiding Americans. That concern was expressed in a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen from more than 140 Republicans in Congress, who also highlighted the burdensome compliance costs such a regulation would place on banks and financial institutions.
Among those signing the Sept. 13 letter were Arizona Reps. Andy Biggs, Debbie Lesko, and David Schweikert. The letter notes no evidence has been put forth by the White House or the IRS that the proposed threshold change “would substantially aid the IRS’s efforts to close the tax gap beyond the information already at the IRS’s disposal.”
In recent years, various IRS Commissioners have complained about understaffing and understaffing at the agency. The letter from the members of Congress also noted concerns that known issues with the IRS’ beleaguered IT system would make the personal, financial data of millions of Americans vulnerable to attack.
“Considering the IRS experiences 1.4 billion cyberattacks annually and has experienced multiple data breaches, we should not give this agency additional sensitive data to manage,” according to the members’ letter.
That letter was bolstered by one sent to Pelosi Sept. 17 by a coalition of banking, financial, and other impacted companies including the American Bankers Association, the Credit Union National Association, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of REALTORS.
“This proposal would create significant operational and reputational challenges for financial institutions, increase tax preparation costs for individuals and small businesses, and create serious financial privacy concerns,” the letter stated. “While the stated goal of this vast data collection is to uncover tax dodging by the wealthy, this proposal is not remotely targeted to that purpose or that population.”
Last week the Democrat who chairs the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee admitted there is no longer support among his party for cutting the reporting threshold to $600.
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass) said the threshold should probably be lowered from $10,000, but the $600 proposal does not have the needed votes. Neal has not said what new threshold amount is still being considered by the White House.
According to the banking and financial industry, a fight is expected for any change that directly impacts the average citizen without a valid reason.
“The American people feel strongly about their right to privacy and it is not reasonable to undermine their financial privacy without a clearly articulated purpose,” the Sept. 17 industry letter states.
Representatives Andy Biggs (R-AZ-05), David Schweikert (R-AZ-06), and Debbie Lesko (R-AZ-08) are original cosponsors on legislation to award Congressional Gold Medals to the 13 service members killed in Kabul last week. The Congressional Gold Medal is widely considered the highest congressional expression of appreciation on behalf of the nation.
The 13 service members were Johanny Rosario Pichardo, Nicole Gee, Darin Hoover, Hunter Lopez, Daegan Page, Humberto Sanchez, David Espinoza, Jared M. Schmitz, Rylee Mccollum, Dylan Merola, Kareem Nikoui, Maxton Soviak, and Ryan Knauss.
Representative Lisa McClain (R-MI-10) introduced the legislation on Tuesday. As McClain noted in her legislation, the 13 service members’ deaths marked the single deadliest day in the Afghanistan war in over 10 years.
“The American service members went above and beyond the call of duty to protect citizens of the United States and our allies to ensure they are brought to safety in an extremely dangerous situation as the Taliban regained control over Afghanistan,” read the legislation. “The American service members exemplified extreme bravery and valor against armed enemy combatants. The American service members dedicated their lives and their heroism deserves great honor.”
If awarded, the medals would be given to the Smithsonian Institution to memorialize the service members and the day of the Kabul attack: August 26.
A total of 150 other representatives have signed onto the legislation: 129 Republicans, and 21 Democrats.
The representatives to sign on were Don Young (R-AK), Mo Brooks (R-AL), Jerry Carl (R-AL), Gary Palmer (R-AL), Barry Moore (R-AL), Rick Crawford (R-AR), Bruce Westermann (R-AR), Ken Calvert (R-CA), Sara Jacobs (D-CA), Tom McClintock (R-CA), Young Kim (R-CA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Mike Garcia (R-CA), David Valadao (R-CA), Mike Levin (D-CA), Pete Aguilar (D-CA), Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Jim Costa (D-CA), Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Greg Steube (R-FL), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Al Lawson (D-FL), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Kat Cammack (R-FL), Scott Franklin (R-FL), Brian Mast (R-FL), Darren Soto (D-FL), Maria Salazar (R-FL), Byron Donalds (R-FL), Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), Jody Hice (R-GA), Rick Allen (R-GA), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Barry Loudermilk (R-GA), Lucy McBath (D-GA), Ashley Hinson (R-IA), Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-IA), Randy Feenstra (R-IA), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Rodney Davis (R-IL), Mike Bost (R-IL), Jim Banks (R-IN-), Larry Buschon (R-IN-), Andre Carson (D-IN), Russ Fulcher (R-IN), Jackie Walorski (R-IN), Victoria Spartz (R-IN), Trey Hollingsworth (R-IN), Greg Pence (R-IN), Tracey Mann (R-KS), Jake LaTurner (R-KS), Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Garret Graves (R-LA), Julia Letlow (R-LA), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Bill Keating (D-MA), Andy Harris (R-MD), Jared Golden (D-ME), Bill Huizenga (R-MI), Peter Meijer (R-MI), Tim Walberg (R-MI), John Moolenaar (R-MI), Elise Slotkin (D-MI), Tom Emmer (R-MN), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO), Vicky Hartzler (R-MO), Jason Smith (R-MO), Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Trent Kelly (R-MS), Steven Palazzo (R-MS), Michael Guest (R-MS), Don Bacon (R-NE-), Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE), Adrian Smith (R-NE), Madison Cawthorn (R-NC), Richard Hudson (R-NC), Greg Murphy (R-NC), David Rouzer (R-NC), Ted Budd (R-NC), Dan Bishop (R-NC), Chris Pappas (D-NH), Chris Smith (R-NJ), Yvette Herrell (R-NM), Mark Amodei (R-NV), Ruben Gallego (D-NV), Steven Horsford (D-NV), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Chris Jacobs (R-NY), Lee Zeldin (R-NY), Joseph Morelle (D-NY), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Warren Davidson (R-OH), Bob Gibbs (R-OH), Bob Latta (R-OH), Dave Joyce (R-OH), Mike Turner (R-OH), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), Stephanie Bice (R-OK-), Tom Cole (R-OK), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA), Lloyd Smucker (R-PA), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), G.T. Thompson (R-PA), Jennifer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR), Joe Wilson (R-SC), Ralph Norman (R-SC), Dusty Johnson (R- SD), Diana Harshbarger (R-TN), Scott DesJarlais (R-TN), Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), David Kustoff (R-TN), Tim Burchett (R-TN), Lance Gooden (R-TX), August Pfluger (R-TX), Randy Weber (R-TX), Roger Williams (R-TX), Beth Van Duyne (R-TX), Filemon Vela (D-TX), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Pat Fallon (R-TX), Blake Moore (R-UT), Burgess Owens (R-UT), John Curtis (R-UT), Bob Good (R-VA), Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rob Wittman (R-VA), Ben Cline (R-VA), Elaine Luria (D-VA), Jaime Herrera-Beutler (R-WA), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Cathy McMorris Rogers (R-WA), Bryan Steil (R-WI), Scott Fitzgerald (R-WI), Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Glenn Grothman (R-WI), David McKinley (R-WV), Carol Miller (R-WV), Alex Mooney (R-WV), and Liz Cheney (R-WY).
Criticism continues to mount in response to comments by President Joe Biden earlier this month about public health professionals possibly going door-to-door across the country to encourage people to receive one of the COVID-19 vaccinations.
Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs joined with 31 other lawmakers who comprise the House Freedom Caucus in sending a letter to Biden last week, calling it “deeply disturbing” that the federal government may be in the process of tracking the private health information of millions of Americans. Other Arizonans in the House Freedom Caucus who signed the letter were Rep. Paul Gosar, Rep. Debbie Lesko, and Rep. David Schweikert.
“There is no scenario where the federal government should be actively entering communities and traveling door-to-door to pressure Americans to receive a vaccine,” the July 9 letter states. “COVID-19 vaccine information is widely available throughout the country, and Americans have every ability to decide for themselves whether or not they should receive a vaccine.”
The letter was prompted by the President’s July 6 comments about the possibility of members of the U.S. COVID-19 Response Team going ““community by community, neighborhood by neighborhood and oftentimes door-to-door, literally knocking on doors, to get help to the remaining people.”
The letter asks for a response by July 23 to a series of questions related to what activities the Biden Administration has undertaken, or plans to undertake, connected to vaccination databases.
Biggs, who chairs the House Freedom Caucus, made additional comments after the letter was sent.
“Instead of meddling in private medical decisions, the Biden administration should focus on addressing the border crisis, the rampant rise in inflation, and the crime wave that is plaguing American cities – all crises it created,” Biggs said. “The door-to-door spying on Americans is one more example of the burgeoning surveillance state by the national government.”
The House Freedom Caucus letter is just the latest criticism directed at Biden’s comments. Two more governors spoke out late last week about the suggestion of personal reach-out to unvaccinated Americans.
“The prospect of government vaccination teams showing up unannounced or unrequested at the door of ‘targeted’ homeowners or on their property will further deteriorate the public’s trust,” South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said in a statement.
In Missouri, Gov. Mike Parson tweeted that “sending government employees or agents door-to-door to compel vaccination” would not be an effective nor welcome strategy in his state.
But despite the criticism, the prospect of a “who has been vaccinated” database may not be difficult to create. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) have been behind a COVID-19 tracking smartphone app that was been promoted by tens of thousands of doctors and nurses.
Called v-safe, the app is described as an after-vaccination “health checker” which users register with to answer surveys about side effects and to report dates of vaccinations. Parents can also register dependents under their v-safe account.
“Your healthcare provider will give you an information sheet on v-safe that explains how to register and get started,” according to the CDC website. “Through v-safe, you can quickly tell CDC if you have any side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Depending on your answers to the web surveys, someone from CDC may call to check on you and get more information.”
As to the confidentiality of a v-safe user’s information, the CDC website notes that “to the extent v–safe uses existing information systems managed by CDC, FDA, and other federal agencies, the systems employ strict security measures appropriate for the data’s level of sensitivity.”