IRS, Internal Revenue Service, wealth tax

Beef up the IRS, No Matter How Much It Hurts

Ideas and Issues

April 28, 2021


There’s just no way to love the Service, as the IRS calls itself. Here’s an example. It’s 2021, hardly anyone even has a fax machine anymore, but the IRS, alone among almost all federal agencies and certainly business in America, will not accept emails and scanned documents. Any document transfer has to be mail or fax. Really, how quaint. Want a call back with a question? Good luck with that! Trying to settle my mother’s estate, I got a form letter for an identity check before they would finish with her final refund, which was less than around $200. Call them, as they suggest, and finally get someone, and they tell you that they will not even talk to you unless you have at hand all of your supporting documents for 2018, even though they have still not revealed the exact return they are trying to sort out. Why bother?

Which seems to be the story for the super-rich and big corporations. Why bother paying taxes when they can get away with pretending to pay and parking profits in other countries or offshore, exploiting loopholes, and settling for pennies when – and more likely, if – the IRS catches them. I’ve interviewed various people on Wade’s World from both the UK and USA who have studied this lack of collection problem closely. We’re talking about trillions of dollars in lost revenue! I’m not even moaning about inequality and the gap between the superrich and the rest of us, much less the top to the bottom. I’m talking about simple equity. Why are we paying and having to deal with the IRS up close and personally, while corporations and the rich are riding high scot-free?

President Biden’s announcement that he is going to request an additional $80 billion over ten years in funding for the IRS so that they can get on the job and make tax collections from the rich real, seems like a good investment. If eight billion a year even collected half of what is being hidden, we’re talking about an extra $500 billion in revenues per year. A billion here. A billion there, and we’re talking about real money. Children subsidies, affordable housing, childcare increases, expanded drug and health care benefits, and more are on the list, but they all cost money.

The old saying that it takes money to make money seems to apply here. We all hate the IRS, because they go out of their way to make sure they are arrogant and impervious to citizens, but making an investment in more capacity for the IRS, so that it can actually do their real job and help make all of our lives better, might improve their attitudes while providing all of us benefits finally that we really need.