Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig pressed lawmakers Wednesday to give the Internal Revenue Service more information about taxpayers’ bank accounts, as the Biden administration tries to salvage its tax-compliance proposal.
In letters to lawmakers, the administration officials again asked Congress to require banks to report annual inflows and outflows from bank accounts with at least $600 or at least $600 worth of transactions, a proposal aimed at letting the IRS target its audits more effectively. It would generate about $460 billion over a decade to cover the costs of Democrats’ planned expansion of the social safety net and climate-change policies, according to the administration.
But after a flurry of opposition from banks and credit unions, House Democrats omitted the proposal from their list of tax-policy changes this week. That was a sign that it lacked the support in the party to advance, though a scaled-back version raising about half as much money could still emerge from ongoing talks between administration officials and Congress.
Less than half a year into the Biden Presidency, the Internal Revenue Service is already at the center of an abuse-of-power scandal. That news broke Tuesday when ProPublica, a website whose journalism promotes progressive causes, published information from what it said are 15 years of the tax returns of Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and other rich Americans.
Leaking such information is a crime, since under federal law tax returns are confidential. ProPublica says it received the files from “an anonymous source” and doesn’t know who provided them, how they were obtained, or what the source’s motives are.
Allow us to fill in that last blank. The story arrives amid the Biden Administration’s effort to pass the largest tax increase as a share of the economy since 1968. The main Democratic argument for a tax hike is that the rich should pay their “fair share.” The ProPublica story is a long argument that somehow the rich don’t pay enough. The timing here is no coincidence, comrade.
This still leaves the real scandal, which is that someone leaked confidential IRS information about individuals to serve a political agenda. This is the same tax agency that pursued a vendetta against conservative nonprofit groups during the Obama Administration. Remember Lois Lerner?
This is also the same IRS that Democrats now want to infuse with $80 billion more to chase a fanciful amount of uncollected taxes. As part of this effort, Mr. Biden wants the IRS to collect “gross inflows and outflows on all business and personal accounts from financial institutions.” Why? So the information can be leaked to ProPublica?
Wirepoints’ analysis uses national state-by-statemigration data compiled by the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS reviews tax returns annually to track when and where people move. It also aggregates the ages, income brackets and adjusted gross incomes of filers.
That data shows Illinois continued to be a national outlier in 2019 when it comes to losing people and the money they earn:
Illinois lost 81,770 net tax filers and their dependents in 2019. Illinois’ losses were the third worst in the country, with only California and New York losing more residents, 165,355 and 152,703, respectively.
On a per capita basis, Illinois also ranked 3rd-worst for out-migration, with net losses of 0.64 percent of its population. Only Alaska and New York fared worse, with losses of 1.02 percent and 0.78 percent of their populations, respectively.
Smith, who has a $7 billion net worth and is best known for having paid off the student debt of the 2019 graduates of Morehouse College, paid $139 million, admitted to guilt, and agreed to cooperate in the criminal tax fraud case against Texas software billionaire Robert T. Brockman, where the Feds allege $2 billion in tax evasion over 20 years. Brockman put Smith’s Vista in business as the sole investor in its first fund, via a $1 billion capital commitment.
Before we get to the details of the aggressive influence-peddling deployed to keep Smith from being indicted, bear in mind why it’s certain Smith got off easy.
First, the IRS unearthed that Smith’s hidden income, estimated at $200 million, via external means, in this case, being accused by his former wife. That lead probably led to other digging, say probing with Suspicious Activity Reports from Smith’s banks. That means that “more than $200 million” is pretty certain to be the minimum amount of money Smith stashed away from the taxman’s eyes. If Smith had been indicted, prosecutors would have done discovery on Smith’s accounts and probably on those of individuals and companies whose dealings with Smith could possibly have been part of his schemes.