Stimulus Payment Woes Prove the IRS Should Not Be Given More Power

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Friday, January 8th, 2021, 12:12 PM PERMALINK

The IRS is unsurprisingly struggling to distribute stimulus checks to taxpayers. Some Americans will likely not receive their payments until they file months from now, while millions of payments have been sent to accounts that have been closed or are no longer active.

This news is more proof that the IRS should not be given more power, as some on the left are proposing.

It is expected that President Biden and a Democrat Congress will push to expand the power of the IRS. Biden Council of Economic Advisers member Jared Bernstein has said the incoming administration will seek “significant increases in IRS enforcement and auditing.”  Several dozen House Democrats have already proposed increasing funding for the IRS including providing $5.2 for “enforcement activities.”

Radical Democrats like Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) even want to have the IRS take over the tax preparation and filing process. This would replace the existing system of voluntary compliance, where Americans are responsible for filling out their own tax returns, with a system where the government assesses and files taxes for Americans.

Naturally, this would create a strong conflict of interest. Under a system of government-run tax preparation, the IRS would tell you how much you owe and give you the opportunity to contest. This would give the government an incentive to overcharge or withhold information from taxpayers.

At the very least, it would empower the IRS to collect even more personal information as noted in a recent report by the Progressive Policy Institute. As the report notes, the IRS does not have the information it needs to prepare tax returns for American families. This could deprive low-income Americans from important tax credits like the child tax credit and earned income tax credit (EITC).

In fact, in order to properly file for Americans, the IRS would have to have a “deep knowledge” of the personal lives of a family, which would result in a significant intrusion into the personal lives of American citizens.

Not only would giving the government this new power be unfeasible, it is also deeply unpopular. According to data by the Computer & Communications Industry Association, 60 percent of taxpayers oppose government tax preparation including 45 percent that “strongly oppose.” Just 8 percent of taxpayers strongly support government tax preparation.

Time and time again, the federal government and the IRS have proven they should have less, not more responsibility. The problems Americans are having receiving their stimulus payments is the latest example. Given this fact, efforts to expand the size and scope of the IRS and have the agency take over tax preparation should be rejected.

Photo Credit: frankieleon

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