IRS unit gets no funds to enforce sanctions on rich Russians

Mar 23, 2022, 1:01 AM | Updated: 1:05 pm
A woman poses for a photo during sunset over the Kremlin at Zaryadye Park near Red Square in Moscow...

A woman poses for a photo during sunset over the Kremlin at Zaryadye Park near Red Square in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, March 23, 2022. (AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) — For all of the talk about slapping sanctions on Russian oligarchs, there was a notable omission in the Ukraine aid package approved this month by Congress: An infusion of money for the IRS criminal investigation arm tasked with tracking down the pricey properties of the Russian elite didn’t make the cut.

The White House request to give the IRS $30 million for tracing financial activities associated with sanctioned people appeared to run afoul of broader reluctance by Republicans to put more money into IRS enforcement actions. Republicans close to the spending bill negotiations said the mission of the IRS should be to administer and enforce the U.S. tax code, not to enforce sanctions.

While the money for Ukraine in the spending bill includes $25 million for the Treasury Department’s terrorism and financial intelligence unit, $17 million for its departmental offices and $19 million for the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, the only Treasury agency that did not receive its request was IRS Criminal Investigation.

Many of the sanctions levied on Russia’s elite and its Central Bank are imposed by the Treasury Department and its various enforcement arms, including those at the IRS. Along with the newly formed KleptoCapture group led by the Justice Department, the IRS plays a major part in imposing sanctions on oligarchs and supporters of Vladimir Putin.

A lack of funding for the IRS criminal investigations unit “damages the ability of our law enforcement community to do its work” said Danny Glaser, a former Treasury assistant secretary for terrorist financing and financial crimes. “The IRS criminal investigators are some of the best financial investigators in the world. It’s important they are at full strength.”

In its funding request to Congress, the White House said the $30 million would expand IRS Criminal Investigation’s capability to find links between various businesses, conduct digital asset tracing, and identify the ownership of assets owned by oligarchs and others linked to Putin.

That money would have included purchasing more than 50 licenses to databases that can access global public records, a Treasury official told The Associated Press, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal matters. Currently, only five people have that capability.

The workforce of the investigations unit has shrunk by 25% over the course of the last decade, according to Treasury.

The unit “is in desperate need of stable, long-term funding to develop a deeper understanding of the global financial landscape and trace and seize assets that today are in the hands of criminals,” Treasury said in a statement last week.

Chye-Ching Huang, executive director of the Tax Law Center at NYU Law, said the funding woes for the IRS investigations unit are part of a larger issue with the federal government relying on the IRS to step in during national and international emergencies.

“We saw that during the pandemic, when the administrative apparatus was used to get billions of dollars of aid to people and businesses in a short amount of time, and we’re seeing it during a foreign policy emergency,” she said.

“That points to its critical role and why lawmakers should not be starving the IRS,” she said, adding that the IRS is key to “preventing criminal corruption, which is corrosive to democracy.”

Biden signed the giant spending bill into law earlier this month to fund the government through September. Included in the funding is $5.4 billion dedicated to IRS enforcement outside of criminal investigations, an increase of $225 million above fiscal 2021.

Jorge Castro, who served as counselor to the IRS commissioner during the Obama administration, said he was hopeful the agency will get more money, as the war in Ukraine shows no signs of ending.

“I suspect we’re not done with additional sanctions-related bills and I’m assuming the Biden administration would like to make this a feature of its next request,” he said.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Pakistan’s defiant ex-premier calls for march on Islamabad

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan’s defiant former Prime Minister Imran Khan called on Sunday for his supporters to march peacefully on Islamabad on May 25th, to press for fresh elections. Khan, who served as prime minister for over three and half years, was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament by an alliance of all […]
1 day ago
Residents travel on a motorbike as they flee their home to avoid clashes between armed gangs, in th...
Associated Press

Gangs strangle Haiti’s capital as deaths, kidnappings soar

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (AP) — It was about 6 a.m. when Venique Moïse flung open the door of her house and saw dozens of people running — their children in one hand and scant belongings in the other — as gunfire intensified. Minutes later, she joined the crowd with her three kids and fled their neighborhood […]
1 day ago
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks on a screen inside a so-called Russian War Crimes Ho...
Associated Press

Climate to conflict, Davos’ post-COVID return has full plate

DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Davos — the hub of an elite annual gathering in the Swiss Alps — is back, more than two years after the coronavirus pandemic kept its business gurus, political leaders and high-minded activists away. There’s no shortage of urgent issues for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting to tackle. With their […]
1 day ago
Chicago police work the scene at the scene of a shooting near East Chicago Avenue and North State S...
Associated Press

Two men charged in fatal Chicago shopping district shooting

CHICAGO (AP) — Two men have been charged in a shooting that left two people dead and seven injured outside a fast food restaurant just blocks from Chicago’s famed Magnificent Mile shopping district. Jaylun Sanders, 21, of Chicago, faces two counts of first-degree murder, seven counts of first-degree attempted murder and other charges, Chicago police […]
1 day ago
Dan Gabel, right, and fellow musicians perform in downtown Boston, Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Gabel has...
Associated Press

Consumers defy inflation to support economy. For how long?

WASHINGTON (AP) — With prices across the economy — from food, gas and rent to cars, airfares and hotel rooms — soaring at their fastest pace in decades, you might think Americans would tap the brakes on spending. Not so far. Consumers as a whole are showing surprising resilience, not only sustaining their spending but […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Pakistan police arrest 6 men over ‘honor killing’ of sisters

LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistani police arrested six men from the same family on Sunday, accused of murdering two sisters who were from the same village but also had Spanish citizenship. Police said that Urooj Abbas, 21, and Anisa Abbas, 23, were allegedly killed for refusing to bring their husbands — cousins from forced marriages […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
IRS unit gets no funds to enforce sanctions on rich Russians