Building out the IRS

Any ginormous spending bill that comes under “bipartisan” auspices should be suspect from the git-go. This Wall Street Journal editorial explores one goody that is to be stuffed into the trillion-dollar box:

The bipartisan Senate infrastructure deal still hasn’t been written into legislative language, but we already know that its no-tax-increase pledge is a fudge. The deal is counting on $100 billion in new revenue by supersizing the Internal Revenue Service so it can audit millions of more Americans each year.

Specifically, the agreement proposes to lavish $40 billion more on the IRS. The IRS budget for fiscal 2021 is $11.9 billion, so adding $40 billion would increase the tax agency’s size by more than a third over 10 years. The explicit goal is to squeeze $100 billion in additional tax revenue without changing tax laws.

On the last point, the proposition that the returns of millionaires can be flyspecked to produce a gusher of unpaid income taxes is so improbable as to make one doubt the stated purpose of the unwritten provision. The Journal editorial points out the improbability, but doesn’t explore what else might be going on here.

Do Republicans take it all at face value? Fold yourself over a lectern and recite in a lunatic stage whisper: “[O]ne may smile, and smile, and be a villain.”

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