Tax Day is a particularly dreary and unpleasant "holiday" this year. Americans who trudge down to the post office to drop off their returns or simply push a button to file electronically are aware that the IRS itself confesses that is it behind in processing those returns it already has by roughly 22 million.
Taxpayers are to hurry up (or be fined) and get in a long line. If you have last-minute questions about the tax form it is not cheerful to read that the IRS admits it is answering no more than 20 percent of the calls for help it receives.
And this is not likely to get better. 53 percent of all IRS employees are working from home full time. Others spend "some" time in the office.
The culture of the IRS does not suggest improvement anytime soon. IRS agents are "protected" by civil service laws. It is almost impossible to fire them. On top of that they have one of the most aggressive unions making the agency difficult to reform in even baby steps. One sign of the culture is that 97 percent of all the IRS union’ campaign contributions flow directly to Democrat candidates.
A one-party, unionized, bureaucratized agency.
Perhaps new technology can fix things? Sadly, the IRS has been saying this for decades. Send cash and we will make our computers work. Failure has followed failure.
But now Joe Biden is convinced that if taxpayers ante up another $80 billion and hire 87,000 IRS agents, things will change. While Biden says these new agents will focus on "the rich" the IRS itself brags they will increase audits of small and independent businesses by 50 percent.
But taxpayers are also consumers and have jobs. President Biden and the Democrat congress are threatening to impose a series of new and larger taxes that will increase prices, depress wages, and make America less competitive in the world.
Biden’s new budget has 36 tax hikes and 11 new taxes on energy. Biden’s new tax ideas will increase the cost of home heating oil, electricity, and gasoline. Inflation has already hit American families and businesses hard – prices have increased by 8.5 percent over the past year. Tax increases will only make this worse.
One of Biden’s new taxes would be a new tax on "unrealized capital gains" which means you get taxed on money you don’t have. If the value of your business, your 401k, life savings or land increase in a year—the government would force you to pay income taxes on the increase.
You don’t have any more money than last year. You did not receive any income. How are you going to pay taxes on income you might never see? Stock prices go down as well as up.
Biden promises this will only be on rich people. But most new taxes are first visited on "the rich" and then they "trickle down" to hit the middle class. The federal income tax was introduced with a top rate of seven percent on those earning more than $13 million in today’s dollars. Now the lowest rate is 10 percent on those earning more than $10,275 in taxable income.
When Biden was vice president the American corporate income tax was 35 percent. Investment and jobs were flowing out of America. During the Biden/Obama years the U.S. had its weakest economic recovery since World War II.
The burden of the corporate income tax hits workers in the form of lower wages and everyone in the form of higher prices for goods and services.
Thanks to congressional Republicans and President Trump, the U.S. federal corporate rate was reduced to 21 percent. But now Biden wants to increase the rate to 28 percent. And you have to add state corporate income taxes as well.
Biden’s tax increase would put the U.S. at a tax disadvantage versus China, which has a 25 percent rate, and Europe, which has an average rate of 19 percent.
Biden and the Democrat party’s call for higher corporate rate on American businesses than is imposed by China or Europe will make American projects less competitive in the world. Biden will have us compete by having lower wages.
America should compete in the world with the lowest energy costs, the lowest cost of regulations and taxes. And we should strive for the highest wages, not the lowest.
Biden is also now trying to yoke the U.S. to a global tax cartel dictated by Paris-based bureaucrats whose goal is to extract money from Americans.
Democrats also want to have the IRS create a new, government tax preparation system. This will not streamline tax filing, as the Left claims, but will give federal bureaucrats more power to intrude in the lives of everyday Americans. It would create a conflict of interest as the IRS would tell you how much you owe and if you contest it, you have to deal with an unresponsive agency that doesn’t pick up the phone or answer letters in a timely manner.
Government as tax collector and tax preparer would give the IRS an incentive to overcharge or withhold information from taxpayers. It would empower the agency to collect even more personal information at a time that the IRS has proven unable or unwilling to protect personal data.
Grover Norquist is President of Americans for Tax Reform.