What’s the tax gap, and how do we close it?
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Tax season is here, albiet delayed a bit.
Extending the federal filing deadline to May 17 is just the latest wrinkle in a bizarre year for the IRS, which has been given responsibility for distributing direct payments to Americans, along with some much-needed cash of its own after years of cuts.
“You could say it’s a Band-Aid to help the IRS get through the day, but it really needs reconstructive surgery,” said Samantha Jacoby, senior tax analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Experts like Jacoby say investing in more staff and better technology for the IRS brings big returns, potentially as high as 7 to 1, according to the agency’s commissioner. At issue is the tax gap — the difference between what Americans owe and what they actually pay.
New research shows that the top 1% of Americans underreport their income by more than 20%, and the government could raise trillions more over time by collecting on it. No hikes — just enforcing the tax code as it stands.
On today’s show, we’re diving into the tax gap. Jacoby walks us through how the wealthiest Americans hide their money, the incentive structures that got us to this point and why 2021 is a great year to start addressing the problem.
Later, we’ll hear from listeners about “jabs” as a verb, robot voices and the politics of the March Madness pool.
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Here are links to everything we talked about on the show today:
- “High-Income Tax Avoidance Far Larger Than Thought, New Paper Estimates” from The Wall Street Journal
- “How Biden Funds His Next Bill: Shrink the $7.5 Trillion Tax Gap” from former Make Me Smart guest Chye-Ching Huang in The New York Times
- “How to Collect $1.4 Trillion in Unpaid Taxes” from The New York Times editorial board
- “Biden Team Prepares $3 Trillion in New Spending for the Economy” from The New York Times
- “An Unusually Optimistic Conversation With Bernie Sanders” from The New York Times
- “The High Cost of Georgia’s Restrictive Voting Bills” from the New Yorker
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