Tax Gap: Making Significant Progress in Improving Tax Compliance Rests on Enhancing Current IRS Techniques and Adopting New Legislative Actions

GAO-06-453T Published: Feb 15, 2006. Publicly Released: Feb 15, 2006.
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The Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) most recent estimate of the difference between what taxpayers timely and accurately paid in taxes and what they owed was $345 billion. IRS estimates it will eventually recover some of this tax gap, resulting in an estimated net tax gap of $290 billion. The tax gap arises when taxpayers fail to comply with the tax laws by underreporting tax liabilities on tax returns; underpaying taxes due from filed returns; or nonfiling, which refers to the failure to file a required tax return altogether or in a timely manner. The Chairman and Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on the Budget asked GAO to present information on the causes of and possible solutions to the tax gap. This testimony addresses the nature and extent of the tax gap and the significance of reducing the tax gap, including some steps that may assist with this challenging task. For context, this testimony also addressed GAO's most recent simulations of the long-term fiscal outlook and the need for a fundamental reexamination of major spending and tax policies and priorities.

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