The wealthiest 1 percent of people in the U.S.A avoid paying a huge amount of the taxes they would normally owe every year, according to a new report from the Treasury Department.
The report found that the top 1 percent avoid paying $163 billion in taxes every year, or about 28 percent of all taxes dodged yearly.
The agency notes that it’s difficult to estimate the tax loss from the highest tax brackets, the data shows that the bulk of the $163 billion figure stems from the wealthiest 0.5 percent of Americans who, according to the Treasury Department, dodge $120 billion in taxes annually.
Overall, the amount of taxes that don’t get paid every year by all taxpayers is equal to the entirety of the amount in income taxes paid by the bottom 90 percent of earners, the agency found. More importantly, the top 10 percent of earners are responsible for nearly 53 percent of the gap in taxes owed but not paid yearly.
Natasha Sarin, the Treasury Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy, said, “The tax gap can be a major source of inequity. Today’s tax code contains two sets of rules: one for regular wage and salary workers who report virtually all the income they earn; and another for wealthy taxpayers, who are often able to avoid a large share of the taxes they owe.”
“The United States collects less tax revenue as a percentage of GDP than at most points in recent history, in part because owed but uncollected taxes are so significant,” wrote Sarin. “These unpaid taxes mean policymakers must choose between rising deficits, lower spending on important priorities, or further tax increase to compensate for lost revenue—which will only be borne by compliant taxpayers.”
Sarin also pointed out that the IRS simply lacks the resources to chase after all of the lost taxes. And, without the ability to detect the complicated tax-cheating methods used by the wealthy, the IRS’s audit rates for the wealthy have seriously declined over the years, whereas the audit rate for low-income recipients of the Earned Income Tax Credit has not been greatly affected.