Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Luiz Romero
By Luiz Romero August 31, 2022

The IRS is not expanding its workforce because of Biden’s student loan forgiveness

If Your Time is short

• The IRS is expanding its workforce after a decade of funding cuts and a projected wave of retirements, but it has nothing to do with President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive student loan debt.

• The 87,000 figure is from a 2021 Treasury Department assessment of how much funding it would take to fill that many full-time positions across the agency, not only in enforcement jobs. The report laid out a plan of phasing in those hires over 10 years. It was a plan; it did not represent a final decision of how congressional funding would be spent.

• The federal government will not impose any income taxes on canceled student debt. A provision in the American Rescue Plan of 2021 makes forgiven student loans tax-free at the federal level through 2025.

What if Joe Biden’s move to forgive the student debt of more than 40 million Americans is not meant "to provide more breathing room" to Americans, as his administration said, but part of a self-serving plot to increase government revenue?

An Aug. 29 Facebook post claims that Biden's student debt relief plan is simply a scheme to increase taxable income.

The post, from a page called "Don’t Trust Government," says the forgiven debt "shows up as income," which turns people into "net tax-payers," pushes them into higher tax brackets, and increases the amount of federal income tax the government collects. 

"People who misreport on their $10k - $20k increased income will be audited by the new army" of 87,000 IRS agents, the post says. 

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

But the forgiven debt will not be treated as taxable federal income, thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the pandemic stimulus package President Joe Biden signed into law last year. It included a provision to exclude counting federal student loan relief as taxable income through 2025.

Six states — Arkansas, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Wisconsin and North Carolina — could impose a tax on the forgiven debt, though. 

And while the IRS does expect to use Congressional funding to expand its workforce after years of budget cuts, the 87,000 figure is a bit misleading.

It originated in a 2021 Treasury Department assessment of what the IRS would do with $80 billion in funding over 10 years. But the report did not say that the new hires would all be agents working in enforcement, and some of the money would go toward modernizing technology and offering taxpayer services.

While the Treasury is expected to make new hires, it is still finalizing how it will allocate the newly approved funds. Simultaneously, an estimated 50,000 employees are expected to retire in the next five to six years, the Treasury Department told PolitiFact in early August.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said audit rates for households making less than $400,000 would not increase and enforcement resources would focus on high-end taxpayers, Reuters reported. 

"I direct that any additional resources — including any new personnel or auditors that are hired — shall not be used to increase the share of small business or households below the $400,000 threshold that are audited relative to historical levels," Yellen wrote Aug. 10.

Our ruling

A recent Facebook post said the IRS is hiring an "army" of 87,000 agents to deal with a surge in federal tax income resulting from Biden’s student debt relief plan.

The IRS plans to increase its workforce, but over 10 years, not all at once. Many of the new hires are expected to come onboard as 50,000 current IRS workers retire.

And forgiven student loan debt will not be taxed federally, though it might be subject to state taxes in some places.

We rate the post False.

Our Sources

Facebook post, Aug. 29, 2022

White House, "President Biden announces student loan relief for borrowers who need it most," Aug. 28, 2022

The Associated Press, "GOP, Dems seek political boost from student loan debt plan," Aug. 27, 2022

PolitiFact, "IRS won’t tax student loan relief, but some states might," Aug. 30, 2022

PolitiFact, "Kevin McCarthy’s mostly false claim about an army of 87,000 IRS agents," Aug. 11, 2022

Reuters, "Social media posts miss key context on Inflation Reduction Act’s provision for thousands of new IRS agents," Aug. 17, 2022

Email interview with a spokesperson at the Treasury Department, Aug. 30, 2022 

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Luiz Romero

The IRS is not expanding its workforce because of Biden’s student loan forgiveness

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up