Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen claimed in an interview with CBS’s Norah O’Donnell that proposal by the Biden administration to have the IRS monitor all bank transactions over $600 was designed to go after “billionaires” who are cheating the government, not to monitor the transactions of ordinary citizens.
While Yellen didn’t exactly say that in the video, the follow-up tweet by CBS News makes clear what the takeaway should be.
In the past week, media outlets like CNN and CBS have run interference for the Biden administration, frequently “fact-checking” claims that this will be a unreasonable invasion of ordinary citizens’ privacy.
“It’s Republicans and right-wing media outlets attacking the proposal as a violation of privacy and arguing that the IRS would be improperly spying on everyday Americans’ bank accounts,” said CNN last week.
“Until legislation is passed by Congress, it’s unclear how the IRS’s authority could expand, what the reporting threshold would be and who would be affected,” concluded CNN, arguing we won’t know what’s in the bill until it passes.
Politifact also came to the aid of the administration saying that the idea that the IRS would monitor “every single withdrawal, deposit, and transaction you make from your personal banking accounts, PayPal, Venmo, etc.,” was “mostly false.”
In September Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., pressed Yellen on the proposal, according to the Daily Mail, pointing out that the IRS won’t find a lot of billionaires by imposing a $600 flag on transactions.
Yellen’s answer was non-responsive: “That’s correct, but it’s important to have comprehensive information so that individuals can’t game the system and have multiple accounts.”
Bankers and other experts have also raised the privacy concerns while also expressing doubt that the information would be useful for the IRS for the purpose of finding high-income tax cheats.
“What the IRS will do with this information is of concern to us,” said Bob Palmer, CEO of the Community Bankers Association of Ohio, according to Cleveland.com.
“The volume of information they are seeking is of concern to us,” Palmer continued. “The safety of the information is of concern to us.”