Top Republican senators are demanding the IRS provides information on the enforcement of tax credits for purchases of new plug-in electric vehicles after a Treasury Department watchdog found that millions of dollars of credits were potentially paid out improperly.
A group of 15 GOP senators addressed a letter (pdf) to IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig on Jan. 27, asking for information about “what appear to be systemic problems” within the electric vehicle (EV) credit program.
The Treasury Department’s internal watchdog, TIGTA, last year found (pdf) that nearly $74 million in credits were potentially claimed erroneously from 2014 to 2018. It followed a 2011 review by the Treasury inspector general that reported $33 million was improperly paid out to unqualified individuals from Jan. 1 through July 24, 2010, according to the letter.
“In other words, despite recognizing this fraud eight years ago, it has not only persisted but become even more widespread,” wrote the group of senators, including Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
“It is troubling that these improper payments continue and have more than doubled in size in the eight years since they were first reported,” the senators wrote in their letter. “For this reason, we are writing to request information about what appear to be systemic problems with the plug-in electric drive motor vehicle tax credit program.”
The senators, in order to “better understand” how the IRS enforces the electric vehicle tax credit, are pressing for the release of the total number and dollar amounts of EV credits awarded since 2010, the number of payments given out to leased vehicles, and those which were found to be erroneous. They asked for the IRS to provide information on the major categories of make and model of vehicles for which the claims were found to be paid out improperly.
The letter also asked the agency if it had conducted an audit of fraud within the program, how it would do so if it has not, and whether a “reporting requirement” for EV dealers would improve the program’s administration.
The senators asked for a response by Feb. 11 this year, stating that the problems TIGTA has identified within the program are “even more concerning” as Congress considers its expansion, arguing that the EV credit program “overwhelmingly benefits wealthy electric vehicle owners in one state.”