Claiming a supposed “tax gap” between what Americans owe and what they pay, a new proposal by President Joe Biden and congressional Democrats would spend $80 billion to create as many as 87,000 new federal “enforcement and compliance” agents to investigate any financial transaction involving more than $600 and create a federal database to record and monitor Americans’ financial activities.
“Democrats want to give the IRS $80 billion and hire 87,000 new agents so they can harass and audit taxpayers and create a new reporting regime that targets any bank account, Venmo account, or financial account exceeding $600 in gross inflows and outflows,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform. “This should be alarming given the IRS has a long history of failing to do its job and targeting taxpayers based on their political beliefs.”
“Congressional Democrats’ answer to Americans’ frustrations with the IRS is to hire more tax bureaucrats to audit them,” said Ryan Ellis, President of the Center for a Free Economy.
“People are fed up with being told they are tax cheats by academics and bureaucrats who have never signed the front of a paycheck, and that they must become the subject of fishing expedition audits in service to a fabricated ‘tax gap,’” said Ellis. “Congress should focus on getting the IRS to answer phone calls and correspondence in a timely manner, not on new audits.”
Congressional Republicans are responding by proposing the “TaxGap Reform and IRS Enforcement Act.”
“Before American taxpayers are subjected to 80,000 new IRS agents and surveillance of their private bank accounts, let’s begin with an accurate, independent estimate of Treasury’s so-called ‘tax gap,’” said House Ways and Means Republican Leader Kevin Brady (R-Texas.) “This bill also protects taxpayers from IRS targeting based on their political or religious beliefs and closes loopholes that risk leaking private taxpayer returns.”
“The IRS financial institution reporting requirement forces financial institutions to turn over detailed bank account information to the IRS based on vague and ‘flexible’ criteria, such as a $600 threshold and account inflows and outflows, which are determined by the IRS,” said U.S. Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Mike Crapo (R-Idaho.)
“This time-draining burden disregards banking privacy in order to squeeze more resources out of responsible Americans and entrepreneurs. It subjects law-abiding Americans to more intense targeting from the IRS and additional data collection, a concern that was recently amplified by a leak of private taxpayer information out of the IRS. I have long been critical of big data collection activities, and oppose turning banks and brokers into government tax collectors,” said Crapo.
“My amendment prevents the undue monitoring and reporting of sensitive American taxpayer information to the IRS by financial institutions about deposits and withdrawals made by any individual or business,” said Crapo.
Key provisions of the TaxGap Reform and IRS Enforcement Act:
Tax Gap Reform: Requires timely, annually-updated information on tax gap estimates in coordination with the Joint Committee on Taxation.
Taxpayer Protection: Prevents the IRS from targeting Americans for their political and ideological beliefs, codifies President Biden’s pledge to not increase audits of taxpayers making less than $400,000 per year, and prohibits the establishment of new bank reporting requirements.
Smarter Enforcement: Requires the IRS to use existing data and tools to improve its corporate audit selection process and increase enforcement against high-income non-filers.
Closes the Expertise Gap: Creates an IRS enforcement fellowship pilot program to assist with the agency’s most complex audits and case selection decisions. Before hiring thousands of new agents, Congress should test the effectiveness of increasing expertise in a targeted way.
Original Senate co-sponsors include John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), Mike Braun (R-Indiana), John Boozman (R-Arkansas), Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Kevin Cramer (R-North Dakota), James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Mike Rounds (R-Nebraska), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina) and Todd Young (R-Indiana).
To date there is no serious effort by congressional Republicans to abolish the federal income tax and IRS.
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