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In fact, the CBO's depressing outlook is based on unrealistically optimistic forecasts for economic growth and revenue collection!
As Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy points out:
The annual projected revenue growth between 2013 and 2023 is 4.5 percent, which is much higher than the historical average of 3.3 percent. In particular, revenue is projected to grow at an average annual rate of over 9 percent for the next three years. This is nearly three times the historical average. Moreover, as the second chart shows, the CBO projects a positive revenue collection growth for ten consecutive years, an unprecedented trend.
The chance of the United States government collecting the tax revenue its official predictions now call for is about zilch. When government officials don't get what they want, they tend to escalate. That has happened with Prohibition, the war on drugs, efforts to stamp out Internet gambling — and tax enforcement. Tactics get nastier, and nastier, and — as they don't achieve the desired result — turn increasingly abusive.
And kicking in doors and staging intrusive audits runs the risk of making the government "the enemy" in the eyes of many Americans. That means a big hit on the "tax morale" that helps determine taxpayers' willingness to cooperate with the authorities. Nobody willingly surrenders their lunch money to somebody they hate. So the tax gap will grow even as enforcement efforts become more intrusive.
So, as politicians and talking heads chatter on about closing the tax gap, keep in mind that they're talking about waging an unwinnable but still nasty war — against you.