West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin, who last year orchestrated a bill that included an $80 billion expansion of the Internal Revenue Service, routinely failed to pay taxes on time, according to a new report.
Manchin was in some cases years late on tax payments for real estate and personal property items, including cars and boats, NBC News reported Thursday. In 2020, for example, Manchin "made nearly $630 in back tax payments … for taxes he owed on cars, boats, and trailers from 2016, 2017, and 2018," according to the report. Less than two years later, Manchin emerged as the "chief architect" of the Inflation Reduction Act, which provided $80 billion in new IRS funding, more than half of which went to enforcement. Republicans denounced the funding as "part of the broad Biden administration strategy to tax [and] audit exponentially more Americans," particularly those who—unlike the deep-pocketed Manchin—earn less than $25,000 a year.
The revelation comes as Manchin ponders his political future ahead of a potentially difficult reelection year. Manchin, a Democrat who represents a state that former president Donald Trump won twice by an average of 41 points, is facing a challenge from West Virginia's popular Republican governor, Jim Justice. But Manchin hasn't committed to running against Justice and is flirting with a third-party presidential bid against President Joe Biden, a prospect that Senate Democrats are urging him to abandon.
A Manchin spokesperson dismissed criticism over the late payments, telling NBC News that the Democrat "has always paid every tax bill he's received in full and any lapse in payment has been quickly rectified as soon as he has been made aware." That explanation was not enough for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, whose spokesman, Tate Mitchell, called Manchin "a complete hypocrite."
"Joe Manchin voted to raise West Virginians' taxes with the so-called Inflation Reduction Act but refuses to pay his own," Mitchell said.
As Manchin weighs a Senate reelection run in 2024, the Democrat has attempted to position himself as a staunch critic of President Joe Biden's spending. But Manchin has trashed the Inflation Reduction Act to do so—even though he negotiated the bill's terms himself. In April, for example, Manchin attacked Biden for working to "liberalize" the legislation and said he would even "vote to repeal [his] own bill." Just months earlier, however, Manchin had heaped praise on the legislation and said he did not regret voting for it "at all."
"The Inflation Reduction Act will be the most transformative bill that we've ever had in the United States, in Congress, as far as I've been here," he said in February.
Since then, Republicans have watered down the bill's IRS provisions. The May debt ceiling deal between Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) rescinded $21 billion of the agency's roughly $80 billion in new funding. Still, Republicans are trying to cut more, with Texas senator John Cornyn calling the deal a "good down payment."