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  • Writer's pictureKaren Young

Progressive strategy to improve lives:  Raise revenue so government can do more

Welcome to Winning Wednesday!

Government needs more money to do more for America, whether that’s fixing roads, hiring teachers, or whatever it might be. Raising taxes can be a heavy lift politically, even though almost all Americans support higher taxes on the rich.  But collecting taxes that are already owed is the definition of low-hanging fruit for raising revenue. 

We managed to reverse years of budget cuts for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) with the Inflation Reduction Act. That’s in spite of bitter Republican opposition, of course. Now comes news from CBS News that with the extra money to enforce tax laws, the IRS expects to collect more than $600 billion in unpaid taxes over the next ten years, far beyond what was previously anticipated.

IRS and Treasury officials have stated the IRS is focused on tracking down wealthy tax cheats and businesses with unpaid or overdue tax bills.  This is where the money is, though it’s more difficult and complicated to catch wealthy cheats than poor ones, which is why they haven’t been able to do much of it in recent years.

The audit rate of millionaires fell by more than 70% from 2010 to 2019 and the audit rate on large corporations fell by more than 50%, Treasury's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Tax Analysis Greg Leiserson told reporters. IRA funding "is enabling the IRS to reverse this trend," Leiserson said.

The IRS now says that if IRA funding is restored, renewed and diversified, estimated revenues could reach as much as $851 billion – nearly a trillion dollars – by 2034.

Imagine what we could do with all that.  Estimates are that Joe Biden’s original student debt cancellation plan would have cost about $400 billion over 30 years– much less than half of that big haul, already owed to the government. 

Democrats have a great story to tell here, making these rich cheats pay their fair share, even before we can finish the tough job of actually raising taxes.  This is what you call “red meat” for the base. I hope they don’t try to soft-pedal or sugarcoat it, rather, take the position that this is just the beginning.

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