May 26, 2021

King, Brown, Kaine Introduce Bill to Empower IRS to Close Trillion Dollar “Tax Gap”

The Stop CHEATERS Act would provide $80 billion in mandatory funding to the IRS over the next decade, set audit rate goals for high-income individuals and corporations

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) are introducing legislation to provide additional funding to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) so it has the necessary resources to take on high-income tax evaders. The Stop Corporations and High Earners from Avoiding Taxes and Enforce the Rules Strictly (Stop CHEATERS) Act aims to reverse trends that have undermined the IRS’s enforcement ability; over the last decade, the IRS’s budget has been cut by 20%, leading to the IRS disproportionally auditing lower income earners. As a result, IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig estimates that tax cheats – frequently in the highest-income brackets – are shortchanging the country by as much as $1 trillion. Today’s legislation would allocate $80 billion to the IRS over the next decade, direct the agency to set audit rate goals for high-income individuals, corporations, and estates, and increase the penalties for tax noncompliance on taxpayers who earn more than $2 million of taxable income. 

“As Congress negotiates ways to fund much-needed policy priorities and address our growing national debt, there is one common sense solution that should have unanimous bipartisan support: let’s enforce the tax laws already on the books,” said Senator King. “When a few people cheat on their taxes, it means one of two things – either the rest of us have to pick up their slack, or we add to the debt we’re leaving our kids. Neither of those is acceptable, which is why our legislation will make sure the IRS has the resources it needs to confront the tax gap and ensures that our tax enforcement professionals are focused on the high-income earners who account for the vast majority of tax avoidance. This is a serious problem with an easy solution; let’s pass this legislation, and make sure every American pays what they owe in taxes.”

Rich people in this country and Wall Street break the law when they don’t pay what they already owe in taxes. That must be stopped,” said Senator Brown. “This bill will give the IRS the tools it needs to do its job and go after these wealthy tax cheats to make sure they pay what they owe.”

“When some don’t pay their taxes, it increases the burden on those that do,” said Senator Kaine. “I’m proud to cosponsor this bill that provides the IRS with the resources necessary to enforce our nation’s tax laws. Doing so will raise substantial revenue, enabling us to make critical investments in our nation’s future and reducing the debt burden on future generations.”

Senator King has consistently advocated for tax fairness for low-income Maine people, and in April published an op-ed in TIME underscoring the need for increased tax enforcement. In March 2020, he pressed then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin for details on the Department’s efforts to increase tax enforcement efforts on high-income taxpayers. In April 2019, he met with met with tax professionals, advocates, and clients at Pine Tree Legal in Portland to discuss ways to help low-income Maine people navigate the complexities of tax season, and wrote a letter challenging the IRS to refocus its limited resources away from disproportionately auditing lower-income households who utilize the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The full bill text for the Stop CHEATERS Act can be read HERE. 

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