Reviews | Get the IRS to crack down on tax fraud

For the publisher:

D “How to collect unpaid taxes(Editorial, March 21):

Your editorial on the burgeoning unpaid federal tax debt has hit the right spots. The Collection Division and Examinations Division of the Internal Revenue Service have been understaffed and underfunded for decades. Programs like Offer in Compromise (a settlement option for taxpayers) and Criminal investigation for tax evasion were on the ropes before Covid-19, and last year may have put the final nail in the coffin of a functioning tax administration system.

Most of the front-line collection and review staff work remotely, eliminating the possibility of having direct contact with delinquent taxpayers. Over 24 million tax returns 2019 and 2020 have not been processed. The three stimulus distributions were the responsibility of the IRS, without any consideration of the impact on other programs already in trouble.

Money is thrown in many directions by the federal government. It is high time to devote the necessary resources to the Internal Revenue Service.

Guillaume Redmond
Lexington, Ky.
The writer, a tax advisor, is a former IRS revenue officer.

For the publisher:

Leona Helmsley said that “only the little people pay taxes”. More recently, Donald Trump made it clear to all Americans that paying taxes is unnecessary for wealthy individuals and businesses, by reducing taxes for the wealthy and corporations, and through his personal example of the manipulation of his own income to avoid paying taxes.

When the little people see that the big guys are not paying their fair share, it breaks the social pact and the concept of general welfare enshrined in the Constitution.

Michael E. Mahler
Los Angeles

For the publisher:

As an IRS field agent / auditor circa 1970, I would have an average of $ 3,000 a day in taxes paid to the US Treasury. As a certified public accountant, in the 1980s I scared clients into properly reporting income with threats of IRS audits because they all knew of companies that had been audited. After around 2000, none of my clients knew someone who had been audited and they didn’t care about such encouragement to report all their income.

Republicans and Conservatives are supposed to believe in staying the course on public deficits and balancing the budget. We now know this is nonsense. The best way to balance the budget and reduce the national debt would be to hire 10,000 IRS field auditors. Not only would they bring in a huge amount of unpaid taxes, but the entire business community would stand up and take note when the time came to report their income.

In addition, stiff fines and jail time for the most flagrant offenders would be very effective. Many tax evaders were prosecuted and jailed years ago. It was a fairly effective deterrent. Now almost no one is being prosecuted.

Alfred Schwartz
Walnut Creek, California

For the publisher:

What’s the best way to collect unpaid taxes? Sure, a strong, fully funded IRS would be a good start, but since that has a low probability of happening, how about outsourcing IRS functions?

Why not contract with specialized law firms to audit large accounts like Donald Trump’s? How about contracting with specialist collection agencies to collect unpaid tax bills with the same vigor as we collect unpaid student loans?

The federal government contracts with thousands of suppliers for all kinds of goods and services. It is time that we also contract with competent suppliers for tax control and collection.

Jerry Place
Kansas City, Missouri
The writer, graduated in finance and computer science, has been an expert witness in the audit of class actions.

For the publisher:

Collecting unpaid taxes is a great idea. But if Congress finds it impossible to strengthen the IRS, perhaps in the name of fairness, it should stop requiring employers to disclose information about the wages and salaries paid to their workers. It would at least spread the opportunity to cheat taxes more equitably so that it is no longer the monopoly of the rich and powerful.

Paul F. de Lespinasse
Corvallis, Ore.

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