IRS Reports an Increase in the Tax Gap
The Internal Revenue Service reported that the average annual tax gap has increased to $458 billion for tax years 2008-2010, compared to $450 billion for tax year 2006.
The voluntary compliance rate was 81.7 percent for tax years 2008-2010, compared to 83.1 percent in tax year 2006. The IRS periodically estimates the tax gap, which provides a broad view of compliance with federal tax laws. The report found there has been no significant change in the amount of the tax gap or the rate of compliance since the last report was issued for tax year 2006.
“The figure of $458 billion doesn’t account for the revenue brought in through enforcement activities, such as audits and document matching,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said during a conference call with reporters Thursday. “After factoring in those activities, the average net tax gap for this period is estimated to be $406 billion per year. This continues to show that both solid taxpayer service and effective enforcement are needed for top-notch tax administration.”
According to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, factors such as third-party information reporting and withholding tend to increase the compliance rate.
The small increase in the estimated size of the tax gap and small decrease in the voluntary compliance rate are largely attributable to improvements in the tax gap estimation methodology, and do not represent a significant change in underlying taxpayer behavior, according to the IRS. The changes also reflect the overall decline in the nation’s tax revenues due to the severe recession during the time period covered by the study, as well as changes in the mix of income sources that have different compliance rates.
Koskinen acknowledged there has been a small drop in the voluntary compliance rate for 2008-2010 since the earlier study for 2006, but the IRS doesn’t believe this represents a change in underlying taxpayer behavior.
Koskinen acknowledged that it is impossible to completely eliminate the tax gap. He also warned that cuts in the IRS budget are likely to exacerbate the tax gap in reports to come. The funding is now $900 million below what it was in 2010, and the IRS has 15,000 fewer full-time employees. The tax gap study basically aids the IRS and the federal government in planning for future tax revenues.
In reaction to the tax gap report, Senate Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., urged the IRS to put a system in place to identify the sources of corporate tax avoidance, evasion and noncompliance.
Original Story at Accounting Today.