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Sen. Warren Wants Mandatory Funding for the IRS

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What You Need to Know

  • The bill would remove the IRS from the congressional appropriations process.
  • Mandatory funding would ensure that IRS budget is steady and predictable, Warren said.
  • Budget cuts have hollowed out the agency so it doesn't have the resources to go after wealthy tax cheats, Warren said.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., introduced legislation Monday to help the Internal Revenue Service go after wealthy tax cheats by permanently removing the agency from the annual appropriations process and setting mandatory funding for the agency at $31.5 billion.

The Restoring the IRS Act of 2021, according to Warren, would “rebuild and strengthen the IRS” with new funding and also allow the agency “to fairly enforce the tax code, modernize its IT systems, and improve taxpayer services.”

Said Warren: “For too long, the wealthiest Americans and big corporations have been able to use lawyers, accountants, and lobbyists to avoid paying their fair share — and budget cuts have hollowed out the IRS so it doesn’t have the resources to go after wealthy tax cheats. The IRS should have more — and more stable — resources to do its job, and my bill would do just that.”

Mandatory funding would ensuring that the IRS budget “is steady, predictable, and sustained,” Warren said.

The actual annual tax gap possibly exceeds $1 trillion per year, IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig told senators in mid-April.

Warren cited Rettig’s recent testimony that mandatory, multiyear funding would help the IRS “crackdown on wealthy tax dodgers,’ and that “strengthening information reporting would help the IRS verify wealthy individuals’ incomes and make it more difficult for them to hide their income.”

Warren said her new bill would also improve tax compliance by requiring:

  • New third-party reporting from financial institutions to help the IRS verify tax filings for taxpayers with less visible income streams — without adding any burden on individuals
  • The IRS to create a plan, and report annually on implementation progress, to shift audits towards high-income, high-wealth tax filers and corporations
  • The IRS to report annually on the tax gap, and how additional information reporting requirements could further close the tax gap
  • The IRS to conduct an analysis of racial disparities in the agency’s enforcement activity
  • Increasing penalties for underpayment for taxpayers with income above $2 million
  • Applying the False Claims Act to misstatements on tax returns for taxpayers with income above $10 million.

Warren also cited a 2016 study by the Treasury Department that estimates that every $1 invested in IRS enforcement could yield $24 in additional revenue, including a nearly $6 direct return in revenue collection, as well as an indirect deterrence effect estimated to be at least three times the direct revenue impact.

Recent analyses estimate that stepped-up IRS enforcement could raise as much as $1.75 trillion over 10 years, Warren said.

Pictured: Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (Photo: Graeme Jennings/Bloomberg)