US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday that rebuilding the Internal Revenue Service would be one of her top priorities in the coming years, putting her squarely at odds with the Republicans who have taken control of the House of Representatives.
Yellen told Reuters in an interview while visiting Zambia that she was delighted that Congress had approved $80 billion in new funding to help the agency reduce a huge backlog of tax returns and better track down $600 billion in unpaid tax bills.
She said she decided to stay on as treasury secretary largely to oversee the implementation of laws such as the Cut Inflation Act, which included funding for the IRS and passed the last year.
Yellen lobbied for additional funds to help the IRS deal with what she called massive problems, including a “huge backlog” in processing tax returns and a lack of staff to carry out audits. complexities of the highest paid taxpayers.
“I’m excited about the legislation that’s been passed and want to make sure it makes the difference it should make, and that includes the IRS,” she said. “This agency needs to be completely overhauled, and that’s a big task.”
Republicans have sought unsuccessfully to cut tens of billions of dollars in IRS funding from the law.
The law also includes about $270 billion in tax credits for electric vehicles, home solar panels and other climate purchases that will be overseen by the Treasury, making Yellen a key climate figure in the US. administration of President Joe Biden.
“I want to see this work progress. It might not be the sexiest kind of thing in the world, but I think if you want to make a difference in the world, you have to have the following,” she said.
Yellen, 76, admitted that the split in Congress is reducing the chances of passing legislation to advance Biden’s agenda, but said she still appreciates the work.
Her decision to stay ended months of speculation that she would step down midway through Biden’s four-year term.
“It’s probably the last job I’ll have,” Yellen said. I’d much rather do that than sit at home knitting sweaters, or whatever you do when you’re retired.
And yes, she learned to knit in college and even knitted a “nice tennis sweater” for her husband, Nobel Prize-winning economist George Akerlof.
One thing she’s not looking forward to? Asked about the debate with Congress over raising the debt ceiling, Yellen just raises her hand to her forehead and sighs.