I.R.S. Estimates Tax Gap of a Half-Trillion Dollars

Some tabs that have slid through my browser in recent days:

  • The IRS published a new estimate of the federal “tax gap” — the difference between the amount of taxes people legally owe and what they actually fork over. The new estimate, which is based on data from the period, puts the tax gap at almost $500 billion dollars. The government recovers some of that through nagging and enforcement actions, leaving about $428 billion that never gets captured. I haven’t looked into the methodology by which these numbers were conjured up. Several years ago I took a deeper look and found that these estimates typically did a lot of extrapolating from even older guesstimates. It’s also the sort of calculation that must necessarily concentrate on “known unknowns” while the “unknown unknowns” remain in the shadows. As a result, it’s the kind of number that ought to have broad error-bars around it, but for some reason it’s always reported as a single, precise amount.
  • Last time I checked in with the “Don’t Pay” U.K. campaign, it was collecting signers to a pledge to begin refusing to pay home energy bills on if the pledge were to get a million signers (they had collected 108,000 ). When I look at their site to day, I see that they have pivoted a bit. Now they claim that 256,924 people “have pledged to strike” on , and they don’t mention anything about a one-million-person threshold.
  • The scrappy human rebellion against the traffic ticket robots continues. Shotgun fire in Cyprus, blinding paint in Germany and France, fire and paint in France, blunt force trauma in Germany, lens-smashing and legal action in Spain, an angle grinder in France, more paint in Germany, a dozen stacked tractor tires in France, ramming and yet more paint in Germany were among the tactics used against the radar cameras.
  • Spartacus Educational profiles Women’s Tax Resistance League pioneer Octavia Lewin.