Ross: Making the shoplifters pay

Sep 16, 2021, 6:01 AM | Updated: 9:15 am
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington, DC. (Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)
(Photo by Zach Gibson/Getty Images)

The negotiations over a federal recovery plan are stuck in the same old molasses debates about who should be taxed, how we can use tax breaks to solve climate change – et cetera.

Arguments that just circle the drain.

But I think there is something everybody can agree on, and it’s right there in a Forbes headline from last week: “Richest 5% Of Americans ‘Choose Not To Pay’ $307 Billion In Taxes Each Year, Treasury Reports.”

It points out that because the IRS has been systematically defunded over the years, $307 billion legally owed to the treasury by the top 5% goes uncollected. And it predicts that going forward, total tax evasion over the next 10 years will hit $7 TRILLION.

This is not money owed by you and me, people whose income is reported to the government on W-2’s. We PAY our taxes because there’s no way to hide our income.

This is about people who have many ways to hide their income – partnerships, proprietorships, unreported rent receipts. And they know the IRS doesn’t have the staff to collect.

They are no different than the shoplifting gangs who rip off the downtown stores – except they make off with way more than ink cartridges and Fitbits. They’re stealing highway projects, education money, police salaries. And it would be one thing if they all voluntarily got together and set up huge charitable highway-repair foundations, or guaranteed college tuition to every qualified student, or subsidized police training, but that hasn’t happened yet.

And remember – we’re not talking about changing the tax code, or raising rates, this is just about enforcing what’s already there.

You’d think both parties could at least get together on that, right? Imagine if Congress, speaking with one voice, tells the tax cheats: “Tax cheats, we’re going to give you a way out. We’re not going to change the tax laws, we’re not going to raise your taxes, but we ARE giving you 90 days to voluntarily pay what you owe under the current laws.”

Otherwise, we will unanimously vote to approve the treasury’s plan to spend $80 billion on IRS investigators to pat you down and find the stolen money before you sneak out of the store yet again.

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