Treasury releases plan to close the "tax gap" to raise revenue
The Treasury Department on Thursday unveiled new tax compliance measures that it estimates will raise an additional $700 billion in tax revenue over the next decade, before raising $1.6 trillion in the second decade.
Why it matters: The initiatives are part of President Biden’s American Families Plan agenda and they aim to close the “tax gap” between what the government is owed and what is actually paid.
- Treasury analysis puts that gap at $600 billion in 2019 and suggests it will balloon to roughly $7 trillion through the next 10 years.
The new IRS compliance agenda includes:
- Investing nearly $80 billion in additional IRS resources over the next decade to focus on things like modernizing technology, improving data analytics, and hiring and training agents dedicated to complex enforcement.
- Improving IRS access to third-party reports, including those from financial institutions that could help uncover unreported income streams — helping to deter tax evaders.
- Building a technological infrastructure designed to focus on developing machine learning capabilities, providing protection against cyberattacks, and improving external communication with taxpayers.
- More oversight and stepped-up penalties for evaders — or those who help them, like unregulated tax preparers who may not be providing accurate guidance to their clients.
The $700 billion figure is on the conservative side, Treasury officials said. The impact of deterrence could help nudge the figure higher.
Eye-popping stat: The IRS has the oldest technological infrastructure in the U.S. government. It uses a programming language called Cobol, which is no longer taught and expensive to maintain.
- "The lack of a modernized technological infrastructure means that the IRS doesn't have the tools it needs to effectively meet the challenges of the day," an official said.
Of note: The IRS' plan to use third-party reports from financial institutions as a reference for audits will focus on individuals making more than $400,000 per year, officials said.
The bottom line: The Biden administration is under pressure to find ways to pay for its ambitious American Families Plan and American Jobs Plan. This is one piece of that puzzle.