Trump envisions beefed up Treasury Department in budget proposal

Trump envisions beefed up Treasury Department in budget proposal
© Greg Nash

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBubba Wallace to be driver of Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin NASCAR team Graham: GOP will confirm Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the election Southwest Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE's fiscal 2021 budget, released Monday, envisions a beefed-up Treasury Department, with the administration proposing to transfer the U.S. Secret Service to the department and boost funding for the IRS.

The budget seeks $15.7 billion in base funding for Treasury's domestic programs, including $2.4 billion for the Secret Service. Excluding the funds for the Secret Service, the budget requests $13.3 billion for Treasury, which is a 2.2 percent increase from the enacted level for this year.

The funding increase for Treasury contrasts with the significant cuts that Trump is proposing for other agencies, including the State Department, the Commerce Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

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The Secret Service was housed in Treasury when it was created in 1855 and was moved in 2003 to the Department of Homeland Security when that department was created.

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinShutdown clash looms after Democrats unveil spending bill Lawmakers fear voter backlash over failure to reach COVID-19 relief deal United Airlines, unions call for six-month extension of government aid MORE said in a statement Monday that the budget calls for returning the Secret Service to Treasury "in order to better equip the Nation to fight the crimes of tomorrow." Moving the Secret Service back to Treasury would require congressional action. 

The $2.4 billion funding level proposed for the Secret Service in the fiscal 2021 budget is in line with the agency's enacted funding level for this year.

Trump's budget is proposing $12 billion in base funding for the IRS for fiscal 2021, which is more than the $11.51 billion budget for the agency that was included in the fiscal 2020 government-funding legislation the president signed in December. 

Mnuchin said that the budget proposes funds for the IRS "to modernize its systems to improve taxpayer service and enforcement" and to implement bipartisan legislation enacted last year to make targeted improvements to the agency.

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But the proposed IRS budget drew criticism from the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), which represents IRS employees. The group argued in a statement that the budget envisions fewer full-time employees at the agency even with the funding increase. NTEU said that government watchdogs have been pushing for an increase in IRS employees to improve customer service and enforcement.

In addition to the base funding for the IRS, Trump is also proposing funds for tax enforcement that wouldn't be subject to budget caps.

"The activities through 2030 are estimated to generate $79 billion in additional revenue over 10 years and cost approximately $15 billion resulting in an estimated net savings of $64 billion," a budget document states. "Once these investments are fully operational, these initiatives are expected to generate roughly $5 in additional revenue for every $1 in IRS expenses."

Calls for more IRS enforcement funds on top of the agency's regular budget had also been included in past budgets of Trump and former President Obama.

The proposal for increased IRS funding comes after the agency saw its budget cut during the early 2010s. While the IRS has received some funding increases in more recent years, its budget is still at a lower level than it was in 2010.

Many of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have also called for more funds for IRS enforcement, in order to raise federal revenue and reduce the amount of taxes that are owed but not paid. But the idea hasn't been embraced by all Republicans, with some arguing that a better course of action would be to simplify the tax code.

Trump's 2021 budget for Treasury also provides funds for offices in the department focused on combating terrorist financing and financial crimes. It also calls for transferring alcohol and tobacco responsibilities from the Justice Department's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to a bureau at Treasury.

But Treasury programs aren't immune from cuts under Trump's budget. The document calls for ending funding for Community Development Financial Institutions Fund grant and loan programs, which the administration says are no longer needed. However, the administration's past calls to cut funding for this program have faced pushback by some lawmakers, who say it helps low-income communities.

Trump's budget is not expected to become law as written, but it provides Congress with information about the White House's priorities.