Letter to the Editor

IRS lacks needed funding

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Approximately 85% of Americans try to pay their federal taxes correctly. However, as a result of the 15% who are not so conscientious or honest, it is estimated that one out of every six tax dollars owed to the federal government is not paid.

The tax gap is defined as the amount of taxes that are owed but are not paid in a timely or voluntary manner. For 2018 this amount is estimated to be about $600 billion. For perspective, the federal budget deficit in 2018 was $779 billion. This means that the so-called tax gap could plausibly have been 70 to 80 percent as large as the entire budget deficit.

A major step in addressing this situation would be to appropriate sufficient funds for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to properly administer the law. For example, at the present time the IRS has same number of auditors it had back in the 1950s when the economy was about one-seventh its present size. Much of this is due to the fact that when the Republicans controlled Congress, they cut IRS funding.

People who evade taxes are not just cheating the government; they are also stealing from their neighbors who follow the tax laws. Cutting IRS appropriations, as the Republicans have done in recent years, is counterproductive. While it is unreasonable to expect to receive all taxes that are owed the government, the IRS could do far better if it had increased resources.

JOHN PIEPHO, Cape Girardeau