IRS budget cuts make no sense in present economy

Published 2:59 pm Friday, March 11, 2011

The Republicans, energized by the mandate they feel they received in November’s congressional elections, have honed in on reducing the nation’s deficit.

It’s a worthy goal.

With annual deficits more than $1 trillion these days, Congress has got to narrow the gap between revenue and expenses.

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For the most part, the Republicans have focused on reducing spending, not enhancing revenue. One proposed spending cut, however, would actually add to the deficit.

That is the Republicans’ plan to cut the IRS budget by $600 million this year and even more in 2012.

The IRS, no matter how unpopular it may be, is one of those rare agencies that makes money for the government. Every dollar the IRS spends going after tax cheats returns more than $10 to the federal treasury. That’s a rate of return of which few investments in the private sector can boast.

If Republicans were truly serious about reducing the deficit, they would be endorsing President Barack Obama’s desire to increase the IRS’ budget, not trying to undermine that effort.

Tax collectors are never going to be popular, but they are indispensable to balancing the government books. Few Americans would pay taxes if they weren’t compelled to, and the only thing that holds down the cheating is the threat of being caught by the IRS.

It is irrational to reduce that threat at a time when Washington needs every penny it can get.