Oct 19, 2021

Senate GOP Press Conference Transcript: Biden’s IRS Monitoring Proposal

Senate GOP Press Conference Transcript: Biden's IRS Monitoring Proposal
RevBlogTranscriptsSenate GOP Press Conference Transcript: Biden’s IRS Monitoring Proposal

Republican Senators held a press conference on October 19, 2021 criticizing Biden’s IRS bank-monitoring proposal. Read the transcript of the briefing here.

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Senator Mike Crapo: (00:03)
All right. We ready? Well, thank you everybody for coming today, as I think you very well know, the reason we are here is to raise concern about the proposal that is now being moved forward aggressively by the administration and in the House and in the Senate to have the IRS be given authorities to look into the financial transactions of Americans on a scale that is broader than we have ever seen in this country, and totally unnecessary. I want to hit a couple of things. I know that in response to the concerns we’ve already been raising, there has been a suggestion that “Well, we’ll fix that by changing the income limit from 600 or the trigger from $600 to $10,000.”

Senator Mike Crapo: (01:06)
I just want to read to you what the average American runs through their account in the United States during a year. This is from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total is the average American runs over $61,000 through their account, housing, $20,000, transportation, $9,000, personal insurance and etc., $7,000. The list goes on healthcare, groceries, restaurants, entertainment, cash contributions, apparel, clothing, education, personal care. The average American runs $61,000 through their account.

Senator Mike Crapo: (01:48)
The average American will be picked up by this plan. And I think virtually every small business, think about a credit card account. By the way, the proposal doesn’t include just banks and credit unions. It includes financial institutions. That’ll be Venmo, PayPal, you name it. And the scope of the IRS ability to dive into these accounts will be the biggest violation of individual privacy that I think this country has ever seen. I got more to say, but I got guys behind me who want to talk. Let me throw it to Pat Toomey.

Senator Pat Toomey: (02:26)
Thanks very much, Senator Crapo. Yeah. This is a breathtakingly terrible idea. We’re going to give all kinds of personal private information about American citizens to the same IRS that famously discriminated against conservative organizations seeking a tax exempt charter, that very recently leaked massive amounts of completely private personal tax information. Now we’re going to give transaction information. I just came from a hearing in the Banking Committee where some of our Democratic colleagues suggested that the opposition this is exclusively well-paid lobbyists and multi gazillionaires.

Senator Pat Toomey: (03:07)
This proposal is going to affect almost every single American, not just the average American. The vast majority of Americans have accounts that will go through $600 in a year. And if they raise it to $10,000, it’ll still capture everybody and every small business. And you have to ask yourself for what purpose. It tells you nothing about taxable income. That’s a complicated alternative set of rules. This will tell you nothing. So what will happen if they actually implement this? Americans will lose their privacy.

Senator Pat Toomey: (03:40)
Private information is going to be provided about them. The IRS won’t know what to do with that. They’ll just get flooded with massive, massive number of individual and small business accounts for which it will have a dollar amount that means nothing. So how long is it going to take for them to say, “Well, you know, we need a little bit more information because we really can’t make much of this.” And then they’re going to want individual transactions and who knows what else. This is a terrible idea. It should never see the light of day.

Senator Mike Crapo: (04:10)
Next, we’ll have Senator Grassley.

Senator Chuck Grassley: (04:15)
My two colleagues had said they’re very concerned about this. It’s a stupid idea that I hear from Iowans all the time, that they don’t want the appearing eyes of the IRS snooping on them. The middle class is going to be hurt as a result of this. It isn’t going to be the billionaires. This is a large scale fishing expedition that has no motive other than to make the private lives of individuals public to the IRS. And once it’s public to the IRS, as we learn from ProPublica, as Senator Toomey’s already inferred or stated, that they can’t even control their own information without getting all this information out from Iowans all over the place to not be secured.

Senator Chuck Grassley: (05:11)
And the compliance costs are going up your cost of banking for the middle class American and the small business American as well. So, we don’t need this large breach of privacy that we’ve seen with ProPublica again.

Senator Mike Crapo: (05:32)
Senator Moran.

Senator Jerry Moran: (05:34)
Chairman Toomey, Chairman Crapo, thank you very much. Chairman to be perhaps, thank you very much for the opportunity to express this amazing dissatisfaction with what this proposal means to Kansans. I spent most of the week last week in Kansas. This is a topic of conversation in almost every circumstance. So many times Kansans bring to me this, something they’ve read, something they’ve heard, something they’ve seen on the internet. And I used to wonder, could this be true? This is so far fetched that this can’t be the real circumstance only to know that in Washington, DC in this circumstance, it is for real.

Senator Jerry Moran: (06:13)
Only to know that it’s so important that the secretary of the treasury is testifying in front of our Banking Committee in favor of it. And the reaction by Kansans is exactly the right one. This is a terrible intrusion into the privacy in our lives and our family’s lives and our business. Kansans will pay their fair share of taxes. They’ll pay what they’re legally entitled to, but they do not expect, do not want the federal government to have more information, intrude upon their privacy in this circumstance. So to begin with, privacy is hugely important to Kansas.

Senator Jerry Moran: (06:45)
This is a terrible mistake in this intrusion. Secondly, our financial institutions, credit unions and banks, Kansas has lots of small institutions across our state. The reality is this is an expensive proposition record keeping costs. In fact, a couple of financial institutions, a banker in Paola tells me it’s not even law yet, and I’ve had customers closing their accounts. The reaction, this is a loss of business for those financial institutions, but also the cost of complying means that our small institutions will once again have the burden of more regulations, not less.

Senator Jerry Moran: (07:22)
And a banker in Overbrook says, “This means further consolidation of small community banks at the cost of such a program would be impossible for a smaller bank to bear and thus they would be forced to sell the bank.” Terrible, terrible privacy policy, protect American’s privacy, protect Kansas privacy, and make sure our financial institutions that are so important in the lives of the wellbeing of Kansas and Americans don’t have one more burden they can’t afford to comply with. Thank you.

Senator Mike Crapo: (07:49)
Thank you, Senator Thune.

Senator John Thune: (07:53)
Thanks, Mike. As you know, we’ve been saying for some time now, we have been criticizing and pointing out what a terrible idea the Democrats tax and spending spree is for the country and what a horrible vision that is for the future of America. Today, we want to focus on one particular element of that, and that is how it’s paid for. And in particular, this proposal, which would double the size of the IRS, literally double the size of the IRS, and allow them to Snoop into every Americans transactions, bank transactions.

Senator John Thune: (08:30)
And as has already been pointed out, this is something that is so sweeping. We’ve never seen anything like it before, where you’re literally talking about an IRS dragnet across the bank accounts of every single American, or at least every single American who banks. Because as has been pointed out, any American who uses a bank account probably at some point deposits and withdrawals exceed $600. Even if it’s $10,000, it’s still going to capture thousands, millions of Americans with this. And so, this is one of many really bad ideas in the Democrat proposal.

Senator John Thune: (09:11)
But this one in particular needs to be killed for all the reasons that have been mentioned and not the least of which is the huge invasion into American’s privacy and something that as Senator Moran pointed out. I’ve heard from lots of South Dakotans, thousands of South Dakotans already about this particular proposal. But secondly, because it will double the size of the IRS, an agency which has been pointed out, has had problems keeping information secret, huge leaks of massive amounts and volumes of individual private taxpayer information.

Senator John Thune: (09:45)
And so, it’s got that component, historic in terms of its sweep and invasion of people’s privacy in this country, the shakedown that it would represent of American taxpayers. And finally, if successful-

Senator John Thune: (10:02)
And finally, if successful, who ends up paying for it? Well, the joint committee on taxation, which does a distributional analysis of all of these proposals, has said in their analysis that about 75% of the revenue raised under this proposal would be generated by people making less than $100,00 a year. Well, only 5% to 10% of that revenue would be paid by those making more than $500,000 a year. So in other words, the Democrats’ suggestion that this proposal and the tax increases included in their plan won’t hit lower income Americans is just false. This is a proposal that will shake down average Americans in a way that they’d never been shaken down before.

Senator John Thune: (10:48)
And the burden of compliance with this is going to be borne by people in lower income categories. The tax revenue is raised, and the Democrats are assuming literally hundreds of billions of dollars in tax revenue as a result of this, the majority of that up to 75% borne by those making less than $100,000 a year. This is a bad idea. It should be destined for the ash heap of history, and I hope the Democrats will hear from their constituents like we have and come to the conclusion that doubling the size of the IRS and allowing them to literally go out and shake down millions of Americans and hit lower income Americans with bigger tax bills is a really bad idea.

Speaker 1: (11:32)
Senator Barrasso.

Senator Chuck Grassley: (11:35)
Joe Biden wants to give the IRS more power to spy on Americans. That’s what he’s asking for. Just listen to the testimony of his Secretary of Treasury, who comes to Congress and says she wants to look into the checking accounts, banking accounts of anybody with the deposits or withdrawals of $600. Republicans are committed to stopping this, just stopping it. Joe Biden wants to increase the size of the IRS budget by $80 billion and the Secretary of Treasury wants to hire, with that money, an army of IRS agents to look into the banking and the checking of Americans and basically everyone will be caught in that drag net. Now, why do they want to do this? Well, because they want to squeeze more dollars out of hardworking taxpayers in order to pay for their reckless $3.5 trillion tax and spending proposal. It is the number one thing that I heard about in Wyoming last week, it’s the number one thing that I heard about in letters in the last couple of weeks since this proposal was announced by the Secretary of Treasury and this Biden administration.

Senator Chuck Grassley: (12:42)
First, it’s an invasion of the privacy of the American people. And second, when I talked to the people that worked at the banks and the credit unions, they say, “This would defacto turn them into employees or agents of the IRS.” They don’t want anything to do with it. I hear from people all around Wyoming that the IRS is already the least accountable and most powerful agency of the government. They point out that the IRS is incapable of keeping their records that they turn over to the IRS, keeping those private as they should be. The IRS does have a track record of targeting specific groups that they don’t like politically and Republicans are committed to stopping this very scary proposal dead in its tracks.

Speaker 1: (13:30)
Senator Young.

Todd Young: (13:37)
At a time when the American people have lost so much trust in the leaders of our major institutions and of the institutions themselves, including government, I couldn’t think of a worse idea for our national Democrats to embrace and to put forward than their scheme for ensuring that private banking information is provided to the IRS. Nancy Pelosi was asked whether she intends to include this in Democrats’ $3.5 trillion partisan boondoggle the other day. And her response was, “Yes, yes, yes, yes.” Well, I’ve consulted with so many people as I traveled the highways and byways of Indiana, and what I am consistently hearing is, “No, no, no, no.” You see, Hoosiers remember that the IRS just not many years ago used political information, they used personal identifying information from individuals through the IRS to target people based on their political beliefs. It’s understandable they don’t trust the IRS.

Todd Young: (14:46)
The IRS has been weaponized in other periods throughout American history. As a practical matter, the $600 threshold would sweep in even children who have a modestly successful lemonade stand over the course of a year when you think about $600 inflows and outflows over the course of a year. Even if that threshold were to be raised, as some have intimated, say, to $100,000, that still would sweep in more than half of Hoosier households. So I don’t think that this scheme is workable. It’s certainly not something that is designed to build trust. It would double the size of the IRS. Hoosiers don’t want it, the American people don’t want it. It is the wrong answer, one of many wrong answers in this $3.5 trillion partisan bill.

Speaker 1: (15:39)
Senator Scott.

Tim Scott: (15:43)
Thinking about the proposal this morning in my banking hearing with the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and asking the question about this very concept of finding a way to have access into nearly every banking account in America, his response was the goal is to make sure that folks, millionaires and billionaires, are not finding their way around paying the taxes that they owe. My response was to shake my head because I cannot imagine how it is that $600 transaction flows could literally help us find folks who are millionaires or billionaires cheating on their taxes. More importantly, I think about the fact that there are 7 million Americans who are unbanked and may be a little suspicious of the government. This proposal will keep those good Americans from being able to engage and get involved in the financial systems of our country. I can’t think of anything more wrong directed than this proposal.

Tim Scott: (16:52)
There’s a lot of targets within this reconciliation package, this taxing and spending package, to target. This one puts burdens on working class Americans, hardworking, paycheck to paycheck Americans who will now have more to fear from the IRS, three letters no American household wants to see in their mailboxes. IRS sends shivers down the spine. So for those Americans who are concerned that somehow the government is too big, too onerous, too burdensome, this only adds more fuel to that fire. This is not only a bad direction, it’s wrong for everyday, working class, paycheck to paycheck Americans who are shaking their head. Is there not more for Washington to focus on?

Speaker 1: (17:57)
Senator Kennedy.

John Kennedy: (17:59)
Thanks, [inaudible 00:18:02] Whether it’s $600 or $10,000, under this proposal, the intimate financial details of everyone in this room, of at a minimum of every American who has a job will be turned over on a daily basis to the IRS. What could possibly go wrong? Republicans aren’t perfect, but this stuff is crazy. President Xi would be proud. Now Secretary Yellen, who’s one of the leading proponents of this squid brained idea, says we need to do it to catch rich tax cheats. She knows better than that. Why throw the net so wide? This proposal, like a lot of proposals in my democratic friends’ bill, is not about public policy and it’s not about taxes. It’s about control. There are too many people in charge right now in Washington, D.C. who just don’t trust Americans to know what’s best for themselves. They just don’t trust Americans to make decisions for themselves. Their attitude seems to be, “Do what you’re told. Just do what you’re told and if you do that, we might let you eat meat occasionally.” This is another step in that direction and I hope my democratic friends rethink this idea.

John Kennedy: (20:00)
Rethink this idea.

Senator Mike Crapo: (20:03)
And lastly, but not least Senator Cramer.

Senator Cramer: (20:07)
Could be least too, you never know.

Senator Cramer: (20:10)
Well, it’s hard to improve on what Senator Kennedy just said, but I’m going to do my best at least add to it. Obviously I’ve from bankers, community bankers and credit union presidents who are concerned about this. But I have literally heard from thousands, thousands of North Dakotan’s, who bank with great concern. And in many cases, it’s a phone call from somebody who just wants to know if it’s true. And if it’s true, do I know about it? They’re so frightened, for very good reasons, for all the reasons you’ve heard. I mean, we are talking about some of the most private of information being shared, turning bank presidents, bankers, community bankers, credit union lenders and clerk tellers into spies for the IRS. It sends shivers.

Senator Cramer: (21:05)
But here’s what bothers me so much, it should surprise us but it doesn’t. That this administration who has gone from incremental steps towards socialism to vast leaps to socialism, I mean, Marx is on our door step right now. It shouldn’t surprise us that they’ve got the boldness to do this, but here’s what bothers me as much as anything. This proposal is built on the premise that there are a bunch of guilty people out there. There’s a presumption of guilt. Why else would you need more agents to go after people that buy a car? And that’s bothersome. The premise of that in our free system is bothersome to me.

Senator Cramer: (21:55)
But I think one of the craziest parts of the whole thing, even if for a moment you were going to buy into the notion that there a whole bunch of people not paying their share, that’s the other word. I came from the same banking hearing that that several of the others came from. Billionaires just aren’t paying their fair share, so we have to get all of the transaction information from everybody because they’re not paying their fair share. This proposal doesn’t even accomplish what they claim they want to accomplish by the proposal. So what is the real motive? I think it gets back to that what I said earlier, they’ve always been about incremental steps toward socialism, and now they’ve decided to take a great big leap while they hold all three levers of power in this town. And we, as Republicans, will do everything we can to stop them.

Senator Mike Crapo: (22:43)
Thank you. Before we throw it open for questions, I just want to make two other points that my colleagues have prompted me to think about.

Senator Mike Crapo: (22:50)
First of all, we got some information from the Treasury Department today, which you probably all got too saying, well, wait a minute we’re not going to audit anybody who makes less than $400,000. I think they sent that out because they heard we were having this press conference. But that’s all they did. They just said, well, we’re not going to go after anybody who makes less than $400,000. Well, the green book, which lays out this proposal, in addition to the details you’ve already heard about says very specifically that the secretary meaning the Secretary of Treasury, will be given broad authority to issue regulations necessary to implement this proposal. Which, says that the IRS will be given broad rule making authority to get the data it wants. Now the IRS in the very thing they sent out today, trying to say, well, we aren’t going to go after anybody who makes less than $400,000, also said we already have the paycheck information on folks and we already have the interest income information on folks, but we need the rest. That’s the point of all this. Why did they start out at $600? That’s not to get the wealthy, that’s to get everybody, that’s to create a total drag net.

Senator Mike Crapo: (24:12)
And I just want to conclude with the data that Senator Thune referenced generally. We ask Joint Tax to look this and tell us what the distributional effect of raising all these hundreds of billions of dollars that this proposal proposes to do is. And Joint Tax said, they haven’t even put out enough details for us to give you a specific answer. But if you look at the tax code and see where it is that there is the available money that’s not being reported, it’s primarily in schedule C and schedule E. That picks up all small businesses, all individuals, everybody. And so they said, we will analyze the tax gap in schedules C and E, and tell you where it looks like the lost revenue to be found.

Senator Mike Crapo: (25:02)
And when they did that, they found that it was mostly in those making less than $500,000. Over 50% of it is those making less than $50,000. I got to get my glasses out here. Another 21% is those making between 50 and 100,000 dollars. Another 12% is those making between 100 and 200,000 dollars. And another 6% is those making 200 to 500,000 dollars. And when you get to those making 500, not 400, but $500,000 or more the not only accounts for 4% to 9% of the expected recoveries that can come from analyzing these schedules.

Senator Mike Crapo: (25:52)
So I don’t know what the IRS is trying to say here, but know if they are really not going to go after those who make less than $400,000, then why don’t they, instead of saying, well, we’ll raise the limit to a $1,000 for everybody. Why don’t they just put a ban in there that bans the IRS from snooping in the accounts of people who make less than $400,000? That’s a question I think that should be asked of the sponsors of this approach. Anyway, with that, I’ve talked through all my… Oh, I got another colleague here.

Speaker 2: (26:26)
[inaudible 00:26:26] Kennedy.

Senator Mike Crapo: (26:26)
Oh, we got another one, Kennedy. [crosstalk 00:26:29] You guys can help me answer questions if there are questions. Yes.

Speaker 3: (26:37)
I have two questions. Thank you for doing this. The first question is, do you publicly believe that the tax gap is a problem? And how would you propose that ensuring that the wealthy pay the taxes that they owe? And the second question is if they would put that there ban into rule, would you then support it?

Senator Mike Crapo: (26:52)
I wouldn’t support this bill if they put that ban in there, because this bill it still gives the IRS the authority to go in and snoop in every single account of anybody who makes any more than $10,000 worth of transactions. Which as I indicated in my first remarks, the average American family has $61,000 of transactions a year, it’s going to cover everybody. Every single solitary small business that you can think of has more than 100,000. Probably as much as a million or more of transactions, even though the net revenue’s going to be rather small.

Senator Mike Crapo: (27:27)
Now, with regard to the tax gap, I can only speak for myself. I believe there is a tax gap. I don’t believe it’s what they’re saying it is. I believe that what they are saying it is might be trying to pull in those who are not paying as much in taxes as they would like to see them pay, but who are legally following the tax code. So there’s all kinds of discussion about that, but there are things that we could do to address the tax gap. I don’t think creating this drag net is the way to approach it. Were you coming up to answer any?

John Kennedy: (27:59)
Yeah. [inaudible 00:28:00] Because I thought that was a really good question. I used to collect taxes for the State of Louisiana. My title was like secretary of the department of revenue or something, but I was a tax collector.

John Kennedy: (28:19)
Of course there’s a tax gap. Duh. I mean, we have a voluntary system and when we first imposed an income tax in America and the constitutionality of it was litigated, I think our lawmakers and our judicial branch decided, well, we need to strike a balance here between people’s privacy, I’m not sure they used the word privacy then, but between people’s privacy and public policy of catching people who cheat, and the way you do that is through audits. And the IRS, look, it’s an extraordinarily inefficient agency. Any of you have a tax question, go call the IRS this afternoon, see what I happens. You can’t even get them on the phone. I mean it’s ludicrous. What are they going to do with all this data?

John Kennedy: (29:25)
The second point I want to make, I don’t think you can understate the risk that, that this data could leak. I mean, we just had an instance, some of my colleagues talked about it, where financial data of taxpayers was leaked, I think by the IRS. And IRS said they’d get to the bottom of it. Have you heard anything? Have y’all asked? I haven’t. You know what? We won’t. And we remember what happened with Lois Lerner. It just depends on-

John Kennedy: (30:01)
… with [inaudible 00:30:03]. It just depends on what kind of… I’ve talked too long. It depends on what kind state you want to live in. Do you folks really want to live in a state where the government knows every one of the intimate details of your life, including finances? If you do, I hear China is beautiful this time of year. I said too much. I’m sorry. I’m leaving. You did a good job, Crapo.

Senator Mike Crapo: (30:28)
A lot of hands here. I’m going to start here, and then we’ll rotate back and forth.

Speaker 4: (30:32)
Just to follow-up on that, you guys both acknowledged that the tax gap is an issue to some extent. Is it an issue big worth addressing? And if so, what are Republicans’ ideas about how to go about collecting [inaudible 00:30:44]?

Senator Mike Crapo: (30:44)
Well, first of all, yes, it’s big enough that we ought to look at it, but we shouldn’t create this kind of phenomenal dragnet in order to do so. So what should we do? That’s a tough question to answer. A lot of the changes that we need to make probably are changes to the current law. A lot of the things that some of my colleagues claim are loopholes are maybe loopholes in the sense that the law allows something to happen that it shouldn’t allow to happen, deductions or credits or what have you. But I think that there can be corrections in the law if there are loopholes that are identified.

Senator Mike Crapo: (31:22)
Secondly, Senator Kennedy just referenced not being able to contact the IRS on the telephone. I mean, that’s literally true. They don’t answer the phones anymore. They don’t have technology that allows them to do taxpayer service that allows honest taxpayers to understand what they need to do to pay their taxes. And all of the analysts tell us that if we can just give adequate taxpayer service, and get the IRS stepped back up to where it can provide service on the existing tax code, that that will generate greater compliance and greater revenue to the treasury. And I’m sure there are a number of other ideas, but the idea to just create a dragnet like this is the right one. Now here.

Speaker 5: (32:05)
Well, Democrats have said that the proposal was also to go after tax evaders. So do Republicans not see eye to eye on that message, or do you think that Democrats have an ulterior motive for this proposal?

Senator Mike Crapo: (32:18)
Well, first of all, again, I can only speak for me, but I don’t think there’s any Republican who would say they don’t think that the IRS should be able to identify tax evaders and collect the taxes that are being evaded. The question is: Do you need to create a mechanism where the people of America have to give up their privacy on all of their financial transactions in order to do so? And so there’s got to be some ground in the middle. We do need to be able to have more effective tax compliance, but we don’t need to do it this way. Yes.

Speaker 6: (32:54)
We know that [inaudible 00:32:54] the idea of moving the threshold up to $10,000. This comes after pushback from all of you, and we’ve heard from Americans who’ve been calling your banks, et cetera. Do you think that there’s hope here for further pushing this up, or getting rid of it altogether? What’s your-

Senator Mike Crapo: (33:09)
Well, I think the fact that you see the Treasury Department putting out a statement today saying “We won’t do it, we won’t do it,” and the fact that you see all of these comments coming forward and saying, “Okay, we’ll increase the threshold from 600 to 10,000…” My first comment on that is: Why did they start at $600? And I believe the answer to that is because they wanted to go after all of the people on Schedule C and Schedule E and collect the money from them. Then they got caught at this, and they said, “Well, we’re not going to do that.” But they haven’t… All they’ve said in response to “We’re not going to do that” is, “We’ll agree to let it go up to 10,000.” To answer that question, I again refer back to my data on what the average American family receives and spends in a year that still covers virtually all of them.

Senator Mike Crapo: (34:01)
But I had a roundtable on this in Idaho last week. And in that round table, there were people from all different parts of the economy. But one of the small business owners who was at that roundtable made a point that I think is very telling in response to your question. He said, “I have a small business, and I’m not a wealthy person.” He didn’t say what his income was, but I know it was way less than 400,000. I got the feeling it was probably less than 100,000. But he said, “I got a small business.” And he said, “I move a lot of money through my business account, but I don’t have a profit margin that moves a lot of that into my personal account.” But he said, “If you look at my account, my small business account, it’ll have more than a million dollars of transactions in and out.”

Senator Mike Crapo: (34:48)
And so that means that all of that goes to the IRS. And then, remember what I said about the IRS having the broad authority to issue the rules and regulations to help them do with this data what they want to do with this data. That means they’re going to dig deeper into his account. That means they’re going to audit him, and he’s audited just because he is running more money through a small business account. My point is that every small business in America is going to be hit at the $10,000 level, and I don’t think the concern is going to go down. The final answer to your question was that I think the concern is going to continue to rise. Yes, and then we’ll go back here, and then over here.

Speaker 7: (35:27)
Following up on that 61,000 number that was citing [inaudible 00:35:31] is that the proposal would exempt all wage income from [crosstalk 00:35:48] $10,000 threshold. [inaudible 00:35:48]?

Senator Mike Crapo: (35:48)
Yes, it will. I mean, at least on the expenditure side, unless they don’t spend their income. And if their only income is wages, that’s already reported to the IRS, which by the way is why they said, “Well, we don’t need the wage income.” But if the only income that a household has is wages, I’m pretty sure they’re going to spend some of that income and hit the $10,000 threshold. And then they’re pulled into the game.

Speaker 8: (36:16)
[inaudible 00:36:16].

Senator Mike Crapo: (36:16)
Well, I said I’d go over here, and so I’ll go here. Last one, and then really last one.

Speaker 9: (36:27)
[inaudible 00:36:27]?

Senator Mike Crapo: (36:29)
Actually, I suppose that you could probably find one, but it would have to be one that was so high that small businesses weren’t pulled into the net. And I don’t know how to say what that is, but it’s going to be millions. And I think that a better approach to this… Instead of saying, “Well, we’ll increase the thresholds,” if they say, “We’re just going to audit billionaires,” then why don’t they just say, “We’ll only audit billionaires?” That keeps us from having to argue all these points. I’m not saying I would support that either, but that would start getting into the zone of at least making it honest about what they were trying to do. They could even just say, “We won’t allow any audits of people who make less than $400,000 a year,” but I don’t see them agreeing to do that. So there’s things that could make this better. I’m not going to tell you what the threshold is, where I’d be comfortable with it, but there’s a lot of people being brought into this unnecessarily. Okay, you get the last question.

Speaker 10: (37:36)
Given the concern of the tax gap and this concern that this could be more of a dragnet and not the way to approach taxing people who are evading their taxes, do you think it’s worth revisiting an increase in funds to the IRS [inaudible 00:37:53]?

Senator Mike Crapo: (37:54)
Yeah, that’s… I got a bill that goes down that road, and it does talk about the kind of protections against the kinds of focus on people making $400,000 and so forth. But the point is… Restate your question. Do I think-

Speaker 10: (38:14)
[crosstalk 00:38:14] it’s worth going back to the idea of increased funds to the IRS-

Senator Mike Crapo: (38:17)
Yes, yes. And my answer to that is yes. I’ve said all along that the IRS needs to be in the 21st century, as far as technology. They’ve got to have a phone system that works. They’ve got to have people operating the phones, and I’m just being technical. I mean, I’m being very basic there. They need to have the ability to do taxpayer servicing, not taxpayer snooping. And if they just get that ability, if we give them the ability to upgrade their IT and give them the ability to get more personnel to operate the IT and the taxpayer services part of the IRS, I think that would be a huge improvement. All right, thank you all for coming.

Speaker 10: (39:05)
Thanks, Senator.

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