recent Register editorial
backed President Joe Biden’s plan
to throw an additional $80 billion in taxpayer money back at the IRS to recoup
unpaid taxes. These pages said I “should be leading the charge to ensure tax
scofflaws are pursued.” The Register failed to recognize that I’ve been leading
this charge for years.
taxpayer watchdog and longtime member of the Senate’s tax-writing Finance
Committee, here are just some of the ways I’ve worked to hold tax cheats
accountable — without spending excess billions in the process:
Debt Collection Program:
I championed the effort in 2015 to
create public/private partnership, which uses independent contractors to help
the IRS collect unpaid debts. This program has been extremely successful,
recovering more than $969 million
since 2017. The program’s
growing success has allowed the IRS to hire additional staff
The program I authored in 2006
has helped the IRS recover more than $6
from tax cheats. This program was modeled after my 1986 False
Claims Act reboot, which has recovered more than $64 billion in taxpayer dollars
fraud. I’m writing legislation to beef up this program that would allow the IRS
to keep more of the recovery to pursue fraud.
In 2005, I chaired a Finance Committee hearing
and issued a report
exploring reforms to prevent tax cheats from abusing laws intended to promote
charitable giving for their own personal interests. Administration officials
reportedly have suggested charitable organizations may see a windfall of
donations due to proposed Biden’s tax increases. Look for charitable giving
scams to follow suit.
In 2019, I led a bipartisan investigation into tax
avoidance schemes that exploit conservation programs
to game the tax system
and deprive the federal government of billions in revenue.
share the Register’s view that we must do more to close the tax gap
— the difference between taxes
due and those voluntarily paid. Closing this gap means not only more federal
revenue, but also more compliance with our tax laws, and more fairness for all
taxpayers. However, history has shown that simply throwing money at a problem
doesn’t necessarily yield a solution. And the administration’s rationale for
such a sweeping IRS spending plan needs an audit of its own.
Register says the IRS “has been starved.” But in the last two fiscal years,
Congress gave the IRS more funding for enforcement than it requested,
allocating more than $10 billion in 2020 and 2021.
Biden administration claims more money for enforcement would allow the IRS to
collect at least $700 billion. Outside experts have disputed this rosy revenue scenario
. Even if this pipe
dream is realized, the extra revenue is dwarfed by the Democrats’ $6 trillion
spending agenda. And businesses of all sizes would incur new and
burdensome compliance costs and reporting requirements
way. Instead of promising a chicken in every pot, Biden’s plan promises an
auditor at every kitchen table.
record shows, I’m not opposed to making smart investments to improve compliance
and customer service. I’ve steered a series of taxpayer rights laws through
Congress to reorganize the agency to emphasize customer service
. I’ve voted to increase IRS
funding to restore taxpayer confidence and improve taxpayer fairness
. I’ve also worked with the Iowa
delegation to improve IRS’s services for Iowans.
continue working to improve fairness for taxpayers, hold tax cheats accountable
and promote compliance, confidence and customer service. But let’s not beat
around the bush. Iowans need to know Biden’s $80 billion price tag means
greater burdens, especially on small businesses already hanging by a thread to
recover from the pandemic.
Sen. Chuck Grassley is senior member and a former chairman of the tax-writing
Senate Finance Committee, and wrote the Taxpayer First Act signed into law in