U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis’ grilling of Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen over a controversial Internal Revenue Service measure on Tuesday is getting some big time exposure.
Great Britain’s Daily Mail is leading its newspaper with the exchange along with the headline “Biden’s Bank Stasi”.
Secret police references aside, at issue is a controversial measure which would vastly expand the powers of the IRS mandating that every financial transaction — personal and business — be reported to the tax agency.
A fierce critic of the proposal, Lummis laid into Yellen, telling her she was “horrified” that the secretary supported it.
“I am astounded by what you’re supporting and proposing. I think it’s invasive. I think privacy for individuals is being ignored. And I think that treating the American people like they are subjects of the government is unconscionable,” Lummis said.
Privacy concerns, costs to the private sector and new regulatory burdens that financial institutions would have to bear were Lummis’ main points of contention, with privacy issues being paramount.
The Wyoming Bankers Association agrees. It is just one of many organizations in the state and across the country which are objecting to the proposal.
“This proposal would turn every American’s local bank, credit union and payment provider into an IRS agent, monitoring and reporting on deposits and withdrawals made in private accounts — at a threshold of as little as $600,” the organization told Cowboy State Daily last week.
Lummis took it a step further stating that financial institutions would have to “hire contractors to rat on their customers”.
Lummis referred to her agricultural roots during the questioning asking Yellen if she “distrusted the American people so much that you need to know when you bought a cow?”
Yellen ignored Lummis’ question about the cow — and most of the rest of her testimony — suggesting that she disagreed with how the senator interpreted the proposal.
Yellen said the purpose was to catch individuals who aren’t paying their taxes, prointing to a projected $7 trillion loss in tax revenues “which are not being paid to the government.”
Interrupting the secretary, Lummis said, “Well, $600 threshold is not usually where you’re going to find the massive amount of tax revenue you think Americans are cheating you out of.”
Yellen agreed but said the provision was needed anyway just to make sure.
If it’s enacted, don’t expect Wyoming people to participate, Lummis said. They’ll pull their money out of traditional financial institutions.
“Wyoming’s people, literally we’ll find alternatives to traditional banks, just to thwart IRS access to their personal information, not because they’re trying to hide anything, but because they’re not willing to share everything,” she said.