US congressman misrepresents photos purported to show armed IRS recruits

US Congressman Thomas Massie claims in a greatly shared tweet that a sequence of pictures shows Internal Earnings Service (IRS) recruits discovering to use firearms and make arrests. This is misleading the shots clearly show pupils with toy guns in mock IRS prison investigations at a college in Oct 2017 and March 2022, and rather few brokers are authorized to have guns.

“These are not auditions for the next Police Academy sequel,” reported Massie, a Republican from Kentucky, in an August 16, 2022 tweet with three pics that display people today carrying law enforcement vests and keeping what look to be firearms. “This is an true IRS recruiting software.”

Massie’s put up, which he also shared on Fb, racked up tens of hundreds of interactions as it distribute amid conservative figures these as former Countrywide Rifle Affiliation spokesperson Dana Loesch, previous One The united states Information host Jack Posobiec and Day by day Wire host Matt Walsh.

The tweet also circulated on Telegram and world-wide-web concept boards affiliated with the QAnon conspiracy concept, as well as sites these as RedState and the Western Journal.

Screenshot of a tweet taken August 18, 2022

Screenshot of a Telegram publish taken August 18, 2022



The posts occur amid the spread of misinformation about the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), a sweeping financial package that US President Joe Biden signed into regulation on August 16, 2022. AFP has formerly fact-checked deceptive claims that the IRA, whose investing is principally offset by a minimal company tax, would build a new “army” of IRS brokers targeting middle-class Us citizens.

“This is what Democrat priorities appears to be like like,” mentioned Paris Dennard, a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, in an August 16 tweet sharing the shots.

But the a few photos are not recent — nor are they relevant to the most up-to-date legislation, as the posts advise.

AFP arrived at out to Massie’s place of work for comment.

Photos are old

Reverse graphic queries discovered the pics shared on-line were being posted by Stockton College, a public college in New Jersey, in October 2017 and March 2022.

Stacey Clapp, a spokesperson for Stockton University, verified to AFP that the pictures in Massie’s tweet “ended up taken by the university at individual instructional workshops in 2017 and 2022” for students intrigued in understanding about alternate occupations in finance and accounting.

The workshops ended up section of an IRS application known as the Adrian Project, which “lets students to become IRS Felony Investigation special brokers for a working day.” The working day-prolonged sessions simulate IRS prison investigations and involve toy guns, in accordance to the agency’s web page.

Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for the IRS Criminal Investigation division — which oversees the Adrian Project — informed AFP that student participants in the simulations investigate mock monetary crimes, with instruction from the division’s particular brokers. He mentioned the plan, used by dozens of universities and large educational institutions across the US, is intended to give pupils an overview of undercover function, surveillance, subpoenas and look for warrants.

Walls also confirmed the photographs in Massie’s tweet had been captured for the duration of workshops at Stockton College in 2017 and March 2022. A college video viewed previously mentioned also shows the training.

Not all IRS agents have firearms

The IRA is unrelated to the Adrian Undertaking, which has been all over for just about two a long time.

The legislation allocates about $80 billion to revamp the IRS’ engineering and workforce. As AFP has previously described, the legislation could enable for the expansion of the agency’s roughly 78,000-robust workforce.

Chart demonstrating the breakdown of US President Joe Biden’s $433-billion weather and wellness care expending plan ( AFP / Gal ROMA, Paz PIZARRO)

Nevertheless, not all IRS workers get firearm education, as the posts make it appear.

Fewer than half of IRS brokers are associated in enforcement and collections. The agency’s Felony Investigation division has roughly 3,000 workers, and only about 2,100 of individuals personnel are distinctive agents licensed to carry firearms.

The IRS formerly informed AFP that numerous of the employees it hopes to employ the service of in excess of the next decade would substitute much more than 50,000 envisioned to depart or retire in the coming yrs.

AFP has reality-checked other misleading claims about the IRA below.