In a report released last week, the U.S. Treasury Department explained that the so-called “tax gap” – i.e., the difference between the amount of federal income taxes owed by taxpayers for a taxable year and the amount actually paid for such year – “disproportionately benefits high earners who accrue more of their income from non-labor sources where misrepresenting is common.”[i]
According to the report, the largest contributors to this shortfall are the underreporting of income and the overclaiming of deductions on tax returns. These practices, the report continues, are prevalent among higher-income taxpayers with “opaque income sources,” among which the report includes sole proprietorships, partnerships and S corporations, rental real estate, and small C corporations;[ii] in other words, the owners of closely held businesses.
The President is relying upon the data in the Treasury’s report to pressure Congress into closing the tax gap, in part, by increasing the IRS’s enforcement capabilities, requiring more information reporting with respect to “opaque income streams,” and regulating tax return preparers.[iii]