In a recent revelation, the IRS announced that Americans did not pay a staggering $688 billion in taxes for the year 2021. This IRS alert about this unprecedented amount marks a record in unpaid taxes. In response, the IRS is gearing up to enhance compliance measures, which include intensifying audits, especially targeting high-income individuals, businesses, and partnerships.
In a recent revelation, the IRS announced that Americans did not pay a staggering $688 billion in taxes for the year 2021. This unprecedented amount marks a record in unpaid taxes. In response, the IRS is gearing up to enhance compliance measures, which include intensifying audits, especially targeting high-income individuals, businesses, and partnerships.
This $688 billion figure is significant for another reason: it’s the inaugural instance of the IRS sharing data about the annual tax gap. The agency has committed to updating this data yearly. Alarmingly, this number has surged by over $138 billion when compared to the estimates from 2017 to 2019.
With the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) infusing billions into its coffers, the IRS is now focusing its audit efforts on affluent taxpayers. The primary objective behind this move is to ensure that high earners fulfill their tax responsibilities. This strategy aims to bridge the tax gap and augment federal revenue, which will subsequently fund initiatives like the IRA’s ambitious $370 billion green energy projects.
IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating, “The surge in the tax gap accentuates the need for the IRS to bolster its compliance measures in pivotal areas.” He further added, “Such measures are not just crucial but also instill fairness in the tax system, safeguard compliant taxpayers, and actively work towards narrowing the tax gap.”
However, households with an annual income below $400,000 can breathe a sigh of relief, as the IRS has confirmed that their audit rates will remain unchanged.
Understanding the Tax Gap
So, what exactly is the tax gap? As defined by the IRS, it’s the discrepancy between the projected taxes owed and the amount that’s actually remitted punctually.
This gap can be broken down into three primary categories:
- Taxes that remain unfiled.
- Taxes that are reported lower than the actual amount.
- Taxes that are not paid in full.
It’s worth noting that a commendable 85% of taxes are paid both voluntarily and on schedule, as per the IRS.
Reasons Behind the Tax Underpayment
The phenomenon of non-filing arises when individuals delay or avoid filing their yearly tax returns, leading to taxes not being paid within the stipulated timeframe. Simpson & Simpson Accounting, a renowned accounting firm, sheds light on various reasons behind this. Some individuals, apprehensive about hefty tax debts, deliberately avoid filing. Others might be grappling with personal upheavals, such as familial deaths or divorces, causing them to fall behind. In 2021 alone, non-filing resulted in an unpaid tax amount of approximately $77 billion.
Underreporting, on the other hand, involves not declaring the entirety of one’s income. A classic example is individuals not reporting cash earnings in their annual returns, leading to a reduced tax liability than what’s actually due. This underreporting was responsible for a massive $542 billion of the tax gap in 2021.
Lastly, underpayment is when individuals declare their taxes but fail to pay the due amount within the deadline. This is common among freelancers or gig workers who might miscalculate their quarterly estimated taxes. It can also occur when individuals, despite owing the IRS, postpone their payments. This underpayment contributed to $68 billion of the tax gap in 2021.
If you have questions about your tax obligations or need assistance with tax-related issues, it’s essential to seek professional advice. Click here or call (800) 875-5509 to get connected with a tax specialist who can help you with your IRS tax issues.