The IRS Fails at Job One. (Christopher Bergin, Tax Analysts Blog).
Over the years, as the fight for transparency continues, I’ve marveled that while the IRS was willing to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars to hide information the courts eventually would force it to turn over to the public, it never shirked from its responsibility to protect the truly private information it was entrusted with. I’ve always admired the IRS for its unflinching diligence in putting that job well ahead of its paranoia of public scrutiny regarding how it operates.
But now there’s a chink, and a big one, in that armor.
The IRS has too much to do. It has its hands full just with its primary job of assessing and collecting taxes, issuing refunds, and protecting taxpayer data. But Congress has chosen to use the tax law as the Swiss Army Knife of public policy. As a result, the IRS has become a sprawling superagency with a portolio that includes the nation’s health finance system, industrial policy, welfare for the poor, campaign finance… you name it. It should be no surprise that its real job suffers.
William Perez, Identity Theft Statistics from the Latest TIGTA Report. “I was curious, just how big is identity theft, and how much money is leaking out of the Treasury?”
Annette Nellen, IRS Data Breach Unfortunate in Many Ways – PIN? “Why not use of a PIN as is used to access bank data and use credit cards?”
Kay Bell, IRS security breach highlights need to rethink online privacy. “We’ve all to some degree shared details of our lives to broader audiences.”
Justin Gelfand. Most Recent IRS International Hacking Reveals Vulnerability ( Procedurally Taxing). “Perhaps more than anything else, this cyber-attack reveals that stolen identity tax refund fraud is not a problem the Government can prosecute its way out of.”
One of the advantages of a universal benefit is that you give the money to everyone. My idea is that you would then tax some of it back at a marginal rate of 20 or 25 percent. That is, for every dollar that someone earns in the market, they are lose 20 cents or 25 cents in universal benefits. Compared to a marginal tax rate of zero, 25 percent is more complex and has a disincentive. But it is much less complex and de-motivating than our current system of sharp cut-off points for benefits like food stamps and housing assistance. And having a non-zero tax rate allows you to have a higher basic benefit at lower overall budget cost.
In another post, he says:
I think that the incentive problems with the current system are so bad that I would like to see the next Administration take its best shot at something better. As you know, my preference is for a negative-income-tax type system, but with the added administrative issue of having the grants be in the form of flexible-benefit dollars that only can be used for food, housing, medical care, and education.
I like that idea much more than refundable credits, which are a fraud magnet.
Jason Dinesen, From the Archives: Adjunct Professors and Mileage Deductions
Robert D. Flach has some fresh Friday Buzz!
Megan McArdle. Obamacare’s Intent? Just Read the Law. “Memory is so very terrible, and this law is so very complex. Anyone who tells you that they have a full and accurate memory of the evolution of the various moving parts is lying — at least to themselves.”
Hank Stern, A Quarter Trillion Here, A Quarter Trillion there… “Obamacare is set to add more than a quarter-of-a-trillion—that’s trillion—dollars in extra insurance administrative costs to the U.S. health-care system”
Joseph Henchman, Major Tax Actions in Texas, Illinois, Nevada, and Louisiana (Tax Policy Blog). The Illinois legislature continues its rush to fiscal disaster. Nevada advances an unwise gross receipts tax. Louisiana advances a bill to kill its poorly conceived franchise tax.
Sebastian Johnson, State Rundown 5/28: Deals Made, Dreams Fade (Tax Justice Blog). State tax news from New York and Alabama, where a flat tax proposal has fizzled.
Howard Gleckman, The Perpetual, Immortal, Eternal, Never-Ending Tax Extenders. “The magic number for today is 16. That is, remarkably, the number of times Congress has extended the allegedly temporary research and experimentation tax credit since it was first enacted in 1981.”
Jack Townsend, Former House Speaker Indicted for Stucturing and Lying to Federal Agents. It appears blackmail was involved. Robert Wood has more.
TaxProf, The IRS Scandal, Day 750
Well, it’s not brain surgery. Accountants Lack Some Skills (Caleb Newquist, Going Concern).