Townhall posted an article today about President Biden’s plan to pay for his massive spending programs. He plans to close the gap between what taxpayers legally owe and what the IRS actually takes in.
The article reports:
Commissioner Rettig’s testimony appeared to provide groundbreaking new information that the tax gap has reached $1 trillion, with major media outlets like the New York Times taking this statement as gospel — even though it’s nearly three times what had been previously estimated by the IRS. Rettig’s statements were soon followed by a plan from Biden to raise $780 billion over the next decade by spending $80 billion on increased enforcement.
But the context of Rettig’s statements show that it was not a new agency estimate. Rettig was asked by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to state his “personal opinion” on the size of the tax gap, and responded by saying that “it would not be outlandish to believe” that the tax gap “could approach or possibly even exceed $1 trillion.” Note also that the IRS Commissioner made this statement while trying to secure increased agency funding.
While this statement may be interesting, to portray it as equivalent to an official IRS estimate is absurd. Less than two years ago, the IRS estimated that, after factoring in enforcement and late payments, the net tax gap was $381 billion. Clearly the gap hasn’t more than doubled in just over 18 months.
The article notes that increased funding of the Internal Revenue Service would bring in some additional revenue, but nowhere near what is needed:
The government’s official budgetary scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), does believe that some additional revenue could be raised by increasing tax enforcement spending. But the CBO estimates that increasing IRS funding by $40 billion would increase collections by just $103 billion over ten years. Based on that, the Administration’s claim that it could raise $700 billion on net is ludicrous.
The article concludes:
All of this means that closing the tax gap is not as simple as grabbing revenue the IRS thus far simply has not bothered to collect. It would cost money and would end up targeting a broad swath of taxpayers, not just the wealthiest. That means auditors combing through the lives of thousands of Americans, many of whom would be lower income. And it would probably yield far less than Americans are being led to believe.
Biden’s promises of easy revenue from tax cheats are overblown at best. While enforcing owed tax payments isn’t inherently bad, throwing more money at the problem than the IRS would know what to do with is impulsive and wasteful.
Has anyone considered that the way to cut the deficit might be to examine the budget for wasteful spending (and end earmarks again)?