Within almost nine months of his arrival at the White House, one of President Joe Biden’s latest suggestions went from controversial to alarming. A new bill presented by the President would open the doors to the Internal Revenue Department (IRS) and the Treasury to have the power, without a court order, to audit the accounts of Americans, whose limit exceeds $ 600.
The current administration’s goal, as has been stated, is to prevent fraudulent actions, tax evasion, and to raise funds for its budget plans. The President’s request would not only include bank accounts, but also financial transactions through Cash App, Zelle, Venmo, Paypal and other digital applications linked to the financial world and consumption. Another purpose of the White House would be to double the number of IRS officials to increase the reviews and investigations carried out by the federal entity.
“I do not want to punish anyone. I am a capitalist … All I ask is that the fair share be paid,” Biden said in presenting his proposal. “It’s about the super-rich finally starting to pay what they owe” and he also advocated a series of historic tax hikes (between 28% and 39.6%), aimed at corporations and the upper middle class. The Biden administration believes that loopholes allow wealthier entities and individuals to end up paying very low income taxes.
The head of the White House urgently seeks financial support for 3.5 trillion dollars (trillions in English) of a budget project destined 90% to social and environmental programs, international contributions, child care, education, health and others unproductive sectors.
President Biden has even lost the support of moderate Democratic legislators who oppose this plan, considering it exaggerated and counterproductive in times of economic recession and health crisis, with a rebound in the delta variant of COVID-19.
Democratic critics facing Biden’s budget bill include Josh Gottheimer, Carolyn Bourdeaux, Jared Golden, Ed Case, Jim Costa and Kurt Schrader, as well as Hispanic-born Filemón Vela, Henry Cuéllar and Vicente González.
But beyond what Americans might understand this initiative as a fair search for funds, concerns about government control and violations of privacy and individual rights in the US have now crossed the shock barrier, so it is expected that the proposal fades on the way to possible approval in Congress.
“When I heard this, I found it extremely alarming. What they are basically telling you is that the government has the right to audit almost everyone’s bank accounts, without the need for a court order. This is totally absurd,” said Republican economist and political analyst Raúl Mas Canosa.
“President Joe Biden is not only asking for more money from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to be able to do more investigations and achieve greater control over the taxes of each individual or companies, but now he wants to give the government the ability to investigate the bank accounts of Americans. In other words, having the flexibility of knowing how much goes in and out and how much each person spends. I’ve never seen that, frankly.”
“This gives the federal government incredible power, which I think is very bad and it is something that the people have to fight for, it is absurd. Until when are we going to cede our privacy rights to the government and particularly to the federal government?”
On the possibility that the proposal is approved and the important issue of privacy, Mas Canosa opined: “Democrats are going to try to sneak this proposal into the $ 3.5 trillion budget plan along with the increase they want to give the IRS. I do not think they propose it individually, because it would not happen. What they will do is introduce it at the last minute as part of some legislation related to taxes or federal agencies.”
The privacy of Americans
“For several years I started on this issue of privacy very seriously, to the point that I am involved in a lawsuit against the Police Department in Coral Gables for all the cameras that have been placed in this municipality to monitor the movements of residents and visitors. Right now we are in an appeal process, following the ruling of a judge. The subject seems very important to me and everything is related”.
“If something strikes me, it is that this new generation is not interested in privacy and they reduce the importance of any tracking or monitoring in general. I believe that the new generations do not prioritize the defense of individual rights and privacy embodied in the fourth amendment of our Constitution and that the government cannot suppress”.
“Unless you have a court order, the government cannot come in to see how much money I have in my account and how I spend it. This is a serious violation of a person’s privacy”.
“The same goes for installing cameras everywhere and storing information. In Coral Gables they have in files more than 100 million images of individuals, residents, visitors who, when passing through this city, photograph the license plate of their vehicle, check them to see if they have any problem with the law or under suspicion and -although the person has a clean record – they keep these images for a period of three years. All that information collected, it allows the government to know exactly where you go, what time, what business you visit. This is somewhat alarming. However, I seem to be in a minority”, the expert states.
The industry of politicians
“And now they have approved facial recognition technology as well. Politicians want to have more control, more income, that is, it is something like a vice of accumulating power. That is why I have said for a long time that one of the things we have to do in this country with extreme urgency is to limit the time in government positions, because we have created in this country a class of professional politicians at the expense of taxpayers. The best example is the President, who has spent half a century in the midst of politicking: representative, senator, vice president, President; the man has never had to do a payroll, he has never had a supervisor on top of him and they go crazy. That is why we need eight-year terms in relevant positions in this nation.”
“And after they finish restricting, at least for five years, they become lobbyists for private entities or the government to avoid all this” industry of politicians “that has been created in Washington DC. and that when they leave the bureaucracy they end up working for a contractor for the Department of Defense, etc., or large companies, along with a tremendous pension for the rest of their lives that no one in the private sector ever achieves, after their entire career policy and experience were paid for by taxpayers”.
The Democratic Vision
For her part, the lawyer and Democratic analyst, Isadora Velázquez, affirms that “what motivates this proposal is the support of funds for the budget of 3.5 billion dollars. The problem is how this idea has been presented and, of course, people have reacted. Obviously, people don’t support something like this.”
“I think that what the government fails is in not being explanatory in its message, because the proposal affects people who earn more than 400,000 dollars, so the community would better understand that it refers to people who do not pay correctly and taxes fairly. Those details are very important when submitting a proposal like this and cause you to lack support. As it is written at the moment, it will not happen; it was not even included in the final suggestion of the Congress”.
Failures in the tax system
On the importance of collecting taxes and correcting the flaws in the current tax system, Velázquez believes that “the government must do a better job and cover the deficiencies that we now have in the IRS. Reporting more accounts is not going to eliminate the profits that corporations take advantage of, so we are focusing on the wrong side and we are not selling the idea correctly so I do not think it will be very successful. But, definitely, the government has to find where to get that money because otherwise not even the 3.5 billion proposal would pass in Congress.”
“The Democratic government is trying to get more involved in the Pandemic and its negative effects. By putting this requirement on the IRS in such a simple way it looks like an invasion of privacy and no one likes that. The detail of explaining the reasons and who it will affect are essential elements. Right now it looks like the government is invading the private lives of Americans.”
“So far the $ 10,000 transactions are reported, but not in the right way. There is also not enough staff at the IRS to do all the monitoring and carry out the audits necessary for large and high-income corporations to pay the taxes they are required to contribute. For this reason, the detailed explanation is fundamental and separating the role of the government from the common citizen and their supposed interference and invasion of privacy so that it looks for what it is: a monitoring to make the tax contributions of those who earn more money more fair”, she concludes.