Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Rep. Lauren Boebert teamed up to rip President Joe Biden’s effort to double the staff of the Internal Revenue Service in a bid to crack down on ultra-wealthy tax cheats.
To put the proposed staffing boost into context, the Colorado Republican compared it to the workforces of Tesla and Apple, which employ 70,000 and 154,000 individuals, respectively.
“An increase of 87,000 supposedly to monitor the 614 billionaires in America,” she tweeted Sunday, prompting a response from one such billionaire, Musk — worth some $311 billion.
“The IRS already has dedicated audit teams for high net worth individuals. The doubling of staff is for everyone else,” Musk warned, without offering any further explanation.
The proposed hiring spree is part of the Biden administration’s Build Back Better agenda as it seeks to boost funding to the IRS by some $80 billion and crack down on tax dodges, according to Politico.
Both the hiring and funding increase would be phased in over years.
“An increase of 87,000 supposedly to monitor the 614 billionaires,” Rep. Lauren Boebert criticized.Rod Lamkey/CNP/MEGA
The agency’s workforce would never grow by more than 15 percent per year, according to a May report from the Treasury Department, and its annual budget would grow by about 10 percent per year.
The same Treasury report found that the so-called tax gap — or the difference between taxes owed to the government and actually paid — was nearly $600 billion in 2019 and will rise to about $7 trillion over the course of the next decade if left unaddressed.
“These unpaid taxes come at a cost to American households and compliant taxpayers as policymakers choose rising deficits, lower spending on necessary priorities, or further tax increases to compensate for the lost revenue,” the report said.
The IRS already has dedicated audit teams for high net worth individuals.
The doubling of staff is for everyone else.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 22, 2021
“The tax gap disproportionately benefits high earners who accrue more of their income from non-labor sources where misreporting is common.”
Musk has more skin in the debate than most. The overwhelming majority of his wealth is tied up in stock and options related to his three companies — Tesla, SpaceX and The Boring Company.
That means he pays almost nothing in income taxes because he doesn’t take a substantial cash salary for running the companies. Instead, he’s paid with shares of the companies, which aren’t taxed until they’re sold or the options are exercised.
Elon Musk pointed out that “the IRS already has dedicated audit teams for high net worth individuals.”Matt Rourke/AP
Critics of the current tax system have sought to roll out bills that would target extremely wealthy entrepreneurs like Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, but none have so far seen substantial progress.