IRS Tax Gap
By Steven A. Leahy
The IRS calculates the amount of tax liability that taxpayers do not pay on time – the difference between the true tax liability for a year and the amount that is paid on time –this calculation is defined as the IRS Tax Gap. The IRS reports the IRS tax gap every 5 years. According to the most recent IRS Tax Gap estimates (2012 for the 2006 tax year), the American public voluntarily complies with IRS regulations 83.7% of the time. To many, the compliance rate is astounding. With little or no action, only 16% of the potential tax revenue requires government action to collect. Add enforcement and late payments to that number and compliance jumps to 86.3%. These are the IRS’ own numbers.
IRS compliance rates have been steady since at least 2001. The IRS divides the IRS tax gap into three (3) components: non-filing, under-reporting, and underpayment. The biggest gap is attributed to under-reporting ($376 billion in 2006, up from $285 billion in 2001). Taxes lost due to non-filing accounted for the lowest percentage of the gap ($28 billion in 2006, $27 billion in 2001).
Compliance is highest just where you would expect – when a third party reports and/or withholds taxes. Only 1% of the IRS tax gap is attributed to this category of reporting. These numbers are also compiled from real numbers – W-2 and 1099 information. Amounts subject to little or no reporting requirements made up 56% of misreporting in 2006. But, because there isn’t any reporting, these numbers are estimates, rather than actual numbers.
While many point to the compliance rate as impressive, the IRS uses these numbers and points to the low compliance rate as proof the IRS needs to be more aggressive in their collection efforts and require additional reporting requirements to third parties. To be more aggressive, the IRS needs more money. The IRS estimates that every dollar spent on collection, the IRS receives six dollars in return.
Congress, however, has cut the IRS budget over the last several years. For 2015, Congress passed a budget that would cut the IRS enforcement by $1.2 billion dollars; almost a 10% cut. So reducing the tax gap will have to come from reporting.
You may have noticed the additional filing requirements recently implemented by the IRS. For example, the 2011 reporting year saw a new IRS form, Form 8949 “Sales and Other Dispositions of Capital Assets.” This form was designed to replace Schedule D1, and did so for 2013 and thereafter.
The change adjusts how brokers must report adjusted basis and whether any gain or loss on a sale is classified as short-term or long-term from the sale of “covered securities.” Previously, determining the basis of an asset was left to the taxpayer. These changes require additional reporting by third parties in an attempt reduce the tax gap. The IRS is always seeking new ways to require third parties to increase their reporting to decrease the chance of non-compliance.
If you need help with the IRS, you should work with a local law firm. Better, you should give me a call – Opem Tax Resolutions & The Law Office of Steven A. Leahy, PC (312) 664-6649. Call NOW to set up your FREE Consultation.