We are definitely not Greece! But if we do this we could get a little bit closer…

July 24th, 2015 at 1:34 pm

First, we’re not Greece by a huge long shot, and anyone who makes this comparison should be assiduously avoided (a bit more background here, if you like, but trust me on this one).

Second, one way in which Greece really dropped its fiscal ball was in its failure to collect taxes. According to this piece, 90% (!!) of their tax receipts went uncollected in 2010.

So, one way we could be more like Greece if we wanted to would be to eviscerate our tax collection system. But why would anyone want to do that?

For that, you’ve got to read the latest on proposed cuts to the IRS in Republican proposals, now featuring the outsourcing of tax enforcement to private debt collection agencies (what could possibly go wrong with that??), from my CBPP colleague Chuck Marr. It is some truly scary sh__.



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4 comments in reply to "We are definitely not Greece! But if we do this we could get a little bit closer…"

  1. Tom in MN says:

    I always liked the statistic that $1 of additional IRS funding gets $6 of added revenue so I Googled to see where I saw that. Well guess who:


    Keep pounding on this — at least once a year ;)…Every time there are complaints about a government agency not working right, it’s almost always due to a lack of funding. And outsourcing is a way to further hide the problem.

  2. Martin Norred says:

    And for every dollar spent on enforcement, returns ($X) [I can’t remember exactly the #] to the, … , wait, I think I understand why the RWNJ’s cut the funding! so, never mind! 😉

  3. Smith says:

    “Private debt collection agencies” should not be trusted with tax collection. They are very capable of committing fraud, as I once experienced, afterwards having to work closely with my bank to reverse unauthorized action. There is no need to take my word for it, anecdotal and unscientific, the New York Times editorialized against the potential for abuse, backed by broader research. Because taxes can’t be dismissed by bankruptcy, there would be no leverage for a debtor to make fair arrangements, just the opposite in fact. Laws enforcing tax collection are much more powerful than consumer credit collection and other debt recovery rules and regulations. Again, the potential for abuse is enormous, as millions of people can testify by experience with student loan collection. Like taxes, student loans enjoy very special privileges in debt collection enforcement. Unlike taxes, “private debt collection agencies” are in control, and have thrived on abusive policies which have only recently been somewhat curbed by actions of the Obama administration, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

    Sometimes a tax bill appears due because of an error, human or computer generated, even when taxes have been fully paid. Often it takes a lot of effort and calling to determine the source of the error and have it corrected. Again, personal experience, this happened to me last year with New York State. Again, private collection agencies answerable to no one, with powerful profit incentives to ignore errors should not be allowed to take control. See what private industry did in foreclosing mortgages, robosigning, etc.

    The proper framing is threefold.
    1) You are letting people escape paying their fair share.
    2) You are lowering revenue, so you’re taxes will have to go up to make up the difference.
    3) You are letting private industry control your lives, invade your privacy, with no oversight.

    Private tax collection agencies? Like privatized law enforcement, judicial system, and military, a truly corrupt and unAmerican idea. Private tax collection is taxation without representation. Americans will revolt.