January 27, 2023

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IRS tax-exempt division will be growing

2 min read
IRS tax-exempt division will be growing

Issuers and bond lawyers should expect to notice an increased presence of revenue agents both in the near future and in the longer term, as the Internal Revenue Service’s Tax-Exempt Bond office completes a current round of hiring and benefits from federal money authorized earlier this year.

That news was delivered as part of a presentation delivered by TEB Manager Allyson Belsome. The event was part of the National Association of Bond Lawyers’ The Workshop conference, which is being held this week both in person in Chicago and virtually.

“We’re hiring revenue agents, we’re hiring tax law specialists,” Belsome told attendees.

Allyson Belsome delivered a staffing update and other more technical points during the National Association of Bond Lawyers conference this week.

She noted that there was a long period of time when the TEB office was not hiring much. There was a major hiring period in 2009, but not much since. That is changing right now, Belsome said, as the office is making a “more deliberate effort” over the last two years to bring in more people.

More agents will generally increase the ability of the office to open and complete audits of outstanding tax-exempt bonds. The topic is of great interest to bond lawyers, who often handle communications with the IRS on behalf of their issuer clients.

This was a part of the goal of the broader Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division at the IRS, which listed “develop a recruitment and hiring strategy to identify, hire and retain TE/GE employees,” among its fiscal year 2022 priorities.

This is separate from the growth that is likely as a result of recent federal law, Belsome said. The IRS is slated for an $80 billion funding increase thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act signed into law by President Biden in August. The additional funding will boost the IRS’s budget from around $12 billion per year to roughly $20 billion, a 66% increase.

The act calls for over $45 billion for enforcement, over $25 billion for operations and $4.8 billion for business system modernization.  

“In the absence of the Inflation Reduction Act, we still would be doing this hiring,” Belsome said, adding that there’s no reason to think TEB won’t also at some point do even more hiring related to the money allocated by the law.

“What you should expect to see is increased revenue agent presence now, but even more so in the future.”

New hires receive four phases of formal training, as well as specialty training as needed, Belsome said. 

Bond lawyers have said they are also encouraged that the infusion of cash could mean upgrades at the IRS that make information more secure on the tax-exempt side.

The NABL conference, which began Wednesday, concludes Friday.