It’s starting to look like Republicans aren’t going to support the bipartisan infrastructure deal

Mitch McConnell senate republicans
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks at a press conference alongside Senate Republicans.

  • It appears that Republicans won’t ultimately support the bipartisan infrastructure deal.
  • At least two GOP senators who signed on are criticizing an ensuing Democrat-only spending bill that will move alongside it.
  • Mitch McConnell hasn’t said whether he backs the $579 billion agreement.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Senate Republicans are mostly keeping their cards close to the vest when it comes to the $579 billion bipartisan infrastructure agreement.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell hasn’t thrown his support behind the package yet, even though it was negotiated by a handful of Senate Republicans that included Mitt Romney if Utah and Susan Collins of Maine. The framework is concentrated on physical items like roads and bridges. It also contains funding for broadband internet, a major priority for both parties.

There doesn’t appear to be a lot of enthusiasm among Republicans to back the agreement yet, which could partly stem from the fact that negotiators are still turning the blueprint into a formal bill. Democrats are pressing to finalize the details this week, but Republicans say a bill won’t be ready until next week.

A total of 11 GOP senators signed onto the bipartisan agreement, which would be enough for the plan to clear the 60-vote threshold if every Democratic senator voted for it as well.

But some have signaled they could withdraw their support given that Democrats are poised to advance a separate $3.5 trillion party-line package through reconciliation in the coming weeks. That legislative pathway requires Democrats to stick together in an evenly-divided Senate over united Republican opposition – and both measures would be approved on parallel tracks.

‘This deal is troublesome to me,” said Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas, a GOP sponsor, on Wednesday.

Others say they don’t want the bipartisan deal’s fate to be tied to the Democrat-only plan. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has insisted the House will only approve a bipartisan bill once the Senate clears a party-line infrastructure bill. “They certainly can’t be connected,” Sen. Lindsay Graham, another Republican sponsor, told reporters on Wednesday.

Republicans have also started criticizing the funding mechanisms, potentially making it harder for more Republicans to support an agreement.

Some experts are skeptical that the funding provisions of the bipartisan deal – which include repurposing coronavirus relief funds and unspent federal unemployment aid – will fully pay for itself. Howard Gleckman, a tax expert at the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, called it “pixie dust” in a recent blog post.

The GOP is seizing on that given their opposition to growing the national debt. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas said in a Tuesday interview that Republicans want “just to make sure the pay-fors are responsible, actually real and not illusory,” he said.

Sen. John Thune, the second-ranked Senate Republican, told reporters on Tuesday that a plan that’s fully paid for would be a “prerequisite for a lot of Republicans to support it.”

A day later, Thune said that the $3.5 trillion spending deal could “put downward pressure on Republican votes” in the weeks ahead.

“I don’t think it helps. We have members who truly do want to get an infrastructure bill,” he said.

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Parents could get a $300 check this week from the government thanks to the revamped child tax credit

Joe Biden
President Joe Biden.

  • The IRS will start sending advance child tax credit payments on July 15.
  • Monthly payments for families will be issued until December, with the remainder sent at tax time.
  • It amounts up to $300 per child, depending on the age.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The federal government is only three days away from kicking off what’s essentially a new child allowance program in the America.

It stems from a revamped child tax credit in President Joe Biden’s March stimulus law that widened the credit’s reach to families with no tax obligations, and bulked up the amount. Families can get a monthly $300 check for children ages 5 and under, and $250 for each child between 6 and 17.

The IRS noted that most families will receive the payments without having to do anything, and they should receive them through direct deposit, a paper check, or a debit card – similar to the three stimulus payments that the federal government sent over the past year.

Half of the amount will be divided into monthly payments issued from July until December. The remaining half will be provided at tax time next year. It will total $3,000 for kids between 6 and 17, and $3,600 for children under age 6.

Last month, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) began notifying 36 million American families that they could be eligible to receive the monthly child tax credit.

Here’s when the IRS will distribute payments:

  • July 15
  • August 13
  • September 15
  • October 15
  • November 15
  • December 15

The White House estimates that 90% of families are eligible to get the credit. Researchers say it has the potential to put a major dent in child poverty as well.

Still, the IRS is scrambling to reach the lowest-income families who didn’t previously qualify for the child tax credit. At least 2.3 million children could be excluded from the child allowance, per a Treasury Department estimate.

A strong majority of Democrats in both the House and Senate are pushing to make the child tax credit changes permanent. Biden’s sprawling infrastructure package would extend it until 2025. After that, Congress would need to renew it.

“We must use this moment to pass the American Family Act and permanently expand and improve the child tax credit by increasing the benefit to families and providing payments monthly,” Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Rosa DeLauro said in a February statement. “Children and families must be able to count on this benefit long after the end of this pandemic.”

Still, some moderate Senate Democrats may push for cuts to the measure. At least one Democratic senator has expressed unease with checks going to households earning six figures.

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Kevin McCarthy mistakenly attributes a 19-year-old’s poster promoting the child tax credit to the IRS

Kevin McCarthy
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California.

  • Kevin McCarthy criticized the IRS for wasting taxpayer dollars on a poster promoting the child tax credit.
  • But 19-year-old college student Tobin Stone actually made the poster – not the IRS.
  • Democrats are pushing for an expansion of the credit while GOP members largely oppose it.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blamed the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for wasting taxpayer dollars on a poster promoting the child tax credit. But the IRS actually didn’t make the poster – a 19-year-old college student did.

In a now-deleted Facebook post on Wednesday, McCarthy posted a photo of a poster that college student Tobin Stone created promoting the child tax credit, which is a monthly credit given to families with children. McCarthy attributed the poster to the IRS, though, and criticized the agency for wasting taxpayer dollars on a “government handout.”

“Infuriating,” McCarthy wrote. “The IRS is literally spending taxpayer money to advertise a government handout. This is welfare without the work requirements.”

Stone, a political science and public policy student at Albright College in Pennsylvania, told Forbes he’s been a “big fan” of the child tax credit ever since it was introduced, which is why he created the poster that he first tweeted out in April.

McCarthy has not yet publicly commented on mistakenly attributing the poster to the IRS, but some Democrats were quick to notice the minority leader’s error. Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia, for example, wrote on Twitter that the “IRS had nothing to do with [the poster], but the enhanced Child Tax Credit WILL put money in the pockets of working families, no thanks to @GOPLeader who voted against it.”

Beyer’s is referring to President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus law, which increased the child tax credit’s amount to $3,600 per child age 5 and under, and $3,000 for every kid between 6 and 17. It gives families the option to receive a monthly payment of $250 or $300 depending on each child’s age, and individuals earning below $75,000 and couples making under $150,000 qualify for the full checks.

Not a single Republican voted for Biden’s stimulus law, but even so, some Republicans, including McCarthy, have been promoting elements of it.

With regard to the child tax credit, Insider’s Joseph Zeballos-Roig reported earlier this month that some centrist senators might stand in the way of a permanent expansion of the credit, which 41 Democratic senators had previously called for.

But Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, one of the architects of the credit, told Insider he had spoken to some moderates and continues to stress the benefits it will have on American families.

“It’s going to be an amazing moment in modern America where people actually see themselves and their families benefiting dramatically from something that we’ve done in Washington DC,” Bennet said in an interview. “It’s going to make a huge difference to people.”

McCarthy’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

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A bipartisan Senate group wants to fund an IRS crackdown on ‘tax cheats’ in nascent infrastructure proposal

Angus King
Sen. Angus King (I-ME).

  • Senators on both sides of the aisle agree that the IRS should be funded in new spending.
  • Sen. Angus King told Insider “there’s a lot of money we’re leaving on the table” and he understands “going after tax cheats” is part of a deal.
  • Sen. Rob Portman, a prominent GOP lawmaker, said a $40 billion investment would go a long way.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As bipartisan infrastructure talks plod on, funneling money to beef up IRS enforcement looks like it’ll be sticking around.

Sen. Angus King, an independent of Maine who caucuses with the Democrats, told Insider on Tuesday that deciding what pay-fors make it into the final package is difficult – but suggested that funding for IRS enforcement will remain.

“I understand going after tax cheats is part of it,” King said. “There’s a lot of money we’re leaving on the table right now.”

The bipartisan Senate group of 10 – evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats – is working on a $1 trillion package. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, a prominent lawmaker in the group, told reporters Tuesday that money to bulk up the IRS’s ability to enforce tax laws would be included in the nascent framework.

The IRS officially estimates the “tax gap” coming in at $441 billion a year. But Charles Rettig, the agency’s commissioner, told Congress in April that the number could actually be over $1 trillion.

This gap between taxes owed and taxes paid could only grow if left without intervention, according to the Treasury Department, which estimates that President Joe Biden’s proposed $80 billion investment in the IRS could bring in an additional $700 billion over 10 years. That would still leave hundreds of billions in taxes going uncollected each year, Insider’s Ayelet Sheffey reports.

The bipartisan approach to IRS enforcement might not go that high.

“We have a CBO estimate that, if you put about $40 billion into bringing back the IRS workforce … that could result in $110 billion – which nets out to $63 billion,” Portman said on Tuesday. “It’s a relatively modest increase in IRS spending compared to what the Democrats proposed under Biden’s plan.”

The number of agents devoted to working on sophisticated tax evasion enforcement has fallen by 35% over the last decade, according to Treasury and the IRS budget has fallen by 20%, while audits fell by 42% from 2010 to 2017. According to a White House fact sheet, the audit rate for those making over $1 million a year declined by 80% from 2011 to 2018.

Biden wants to ramp up enforcement on the wealthiest Americans. A recent study from IRS researchers and academics found the top 1% of Americans fail to report about a quarter of their income. Income underreporting is nearly twice as high for the top 0.1%, which could account for billions unreported.

The role of IRS enforcement is coming into greater relief following a bombshell ProPublica report, which revealed just how little in proportional taxes some American billionaires pay. The tax mechanisms that those billionaires utilize are actually completely legal, but they’ve kickstarted talks of tax reform among Democrats.

Following the ProPublica report, five former treasury secretaries published an op-ed in The New York Times saying that, “in the ways outlined by President Biden’s recent proposal,” more enforcement could be pursued.

The five former treasury secretaries – who served under both Democratic and Republican presidents – write: “But on this issue, all should agree, including members of Congress of both parties: Giving the I.R.S. the tools it needs to improve compliance will raise significant revenue and create a fairer, more efficient system of tax administration.”

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The wealthy were fleeing for low-tax states long before the pandemic slammed on the gas

miami beach
Florida is seeing its wealth increase at the expense of other states.

  • High-tax state residents were migrating to low-tax states pre-pandemic, per IRS data.
  • Low-tax states, especially Florida, are getting wealthier as a result.
  • BofA says ‘tax migration’ is far from a settled area but evidence of it is adding up.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Tax-induced migration was a key part of the narrative of 2020, but the story actually began long before that.

Lower-tax states are continuing to get richer thanks to a steady influx of new residents from higher-tax states, per a recent Bank of America Research note, which looked at recently released IRS data for tax returns from 2019, reflecting 2018 earnings.

The data showed that net gains in adjusted gross income (AGI) for lower-tax states were higher than those in higher-tax states: the latter saw $111 billion in AGI in 2018, while the former saw nearly $145 billion. The net AGI gain of lower-tax states also increased from 2017 to 2018 by $2 billion, to $34 billion, the team led by Ian Rogow wrote.

The rise of remote work prompted an outpouring of Americans, especially the wealthy, from big cities to more affordable areas in pursuit of sunnier locales and lower taxes. Tech elites from Silicon Valley have flocked to Texas, mirroring Big Apple financiers on the East Coast fleeing to Florida. But the IRS data makes it clear that the pandemic accelerated a pre-existing migration pattern.

It also confirms the anecdotal evidence that Florida in particular is attracting many wealthier residents compared to pre-pandemic times, and is seeing its wealth increase at the expense of other states. The average AGI per return of people migrating from Florida to New York in 2018 was $72,492. For those migrating from New York to Florida, it was $135,813. Florida gained a total of $7.3 billion of AGI from the top ten highest-taxed states.

People have “discounted” tax burdens as a move-inciting factor for some time, the BofA note reads, and while tax migration “remains an unsettled area,” leaders from high-tax states are becoming increasingly concerned that remote work and the SALT cap the federal cap on the state and local tax, which was slashed to $10,000 during Trump’s 2017 tax cut – are making residents question living there.

But not all is lost for big cities, which make up a good chunk of revenue for high-tax states. Consider New York City: Those who left during the pandemic are already returning in droves. USPS data released last month showed that nearly half of the Manhattanites who moved to Florida plan to move back. The city also still remains home to the highest number of ultra-net-worth individuals in the world.

A separate BofA Research report from May argued that reopening will spark a return to both NYC and San Francisco. “Both have the potential for some recovery in the near term,” the note reads. “NYC and SF remain premier cities for young renters given their status as economic, financial, and cultural centers, and the pullback in rents over the past year helps affordability.”

It seems that, for some Americans, big cities will always have an allure. But, as evidenced by the pre-pandemic migration trend, others are increasingly ditching them for a more affordable way of life and better savings.

Only time will tell whether high-tax states become truly overrated.

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ProPublica’s bombshell tax investigation reportedly has lawmakers eyeing policy changes. One senator who designed a key corporation tax cut says it wasn’t supposed to let ‘multibillionaires’ avoid tax.

EW   Photo by Tom Williams Pool:Getty Images
Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed introducing a wealth tax.

A ProPublica investigation into the tax records of the richest people in the US, which showed that some avoided paying federal income tax even as their wealth grew, has renewed debate in Congress about tax reform, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit news site ProPublica published a report on Tuesday showing how much the 25 richest Americans – including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg – paid in tax. The report highlighted how two key tax loopholes benefit billionaires.

Some billionaires had slashed their tax bill via deductions made possible by tax cuts passed during the Trump administration, the ProPublica report said.

Republican Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times that a 2017 corporation tax cut that he helped author was not intended to let the super-rich avoid paying taxes.

“My intention as the author of the 2017 tax reform was not that multibillionaires ought to pay no taxes,” Toomey told the NYT. “I believe dividends and capital gains should be taxed at a lower rate, but certainly not zero.”

Read more: ProPublica’s billionaire tax data shows the importance of closing 2 key tax loopholes. Here’s how.

ProPublica reported that Musk’s wealth grew by $14 billion from 2014 to 2018, but that he only paid $455 million in taxes. Bezos did not pay any income taxes for at least two years between 2006 and 2018, the report said.

Buffett paid minimal tax by holding Berkshire Hathaway stock and not paying a dividend, according to ProPublica’s report. The investor defended himself in a statement to the news outlet, saying his shareholders didn’t want a dividend and that he gave nearly all of his money to good causes.

A Republican-led Congress cut the corporation tax rate from 35% to 21% in 2017 under former President Donald Trump, benefiting company shareholders. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also reduced the tax rate for the top income bracket from 39.6% to 37%.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate finance committee, said he was considering new reforms following the report, but did not share details.

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren has pushed for a wealth tax – a 2% tax on a person’s net worth between $50 million and $1 billion. In March, Warren introduced an Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act with Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania.

“Raising multibillionaires’ income taxes isn’t enough when these guys don’t grow their fortunes from income,” Warren tweeted Wednesday. “We need a Wealth Tax in American to help fix a tax system that’s rigged for the rich and powerful.”

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Trump appointees have been left furious after being asked to ‘immediately’ pay thousands of dollars in deferred payroll taxes, which they thought would be forgiven

donald trump melania trump
Former President Donald Trump and former first lady Melania Trump.

  • Members of Trump’s admin were asked to pay the payroll tax Trump deferred, Politico reported.
  • Trump deferred some payroll tax in August 2020, sidestepping Congress in an emergency declaration.
  • “I just wish I had the option to opt-out,” a former administration staffer told Politico.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Some staffers from President Donald Trump’s administration have reportedly seen their tax bills spike as they’re being asked to pay payroll taxes deferred by the president.

Politico reported that members of Trump’s administration have reportedly been receiving letters asking them to pay Social Security taxes that were deferred, with at least one bill reaching $1,500.

“If the indebtedness is not paid in full within 30 calendar days, we intend to forward this debt to the Department of Treasury, Treasury Offset Program, for further collection,” said a copy of a letter sent May 18, 2021, by an accounting officer from the Office of Administration.

Trump set the policy on August 8, 2020, in a memo to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, directing Mnuchin to defer some payroll taxes to “put money directly in the pockets of American workers” who needed it most.

Trump sidestepped Congress to make the change because the pandemic was “of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant an emergency declaration.”

As many as 1.3 million federal workers may have had some of their payroll taxes deferred under the measure, as Insider reported in September. Under the plan, earners paid less than $4,000 every two weeks wouldn’t have to pay the 6.2% tax out of their paychecks from September through the end of the year.

Now, the government’s looking for those deferred taxes, according to Politico. The report quoted several former administration staffers who called the bills “unacceptable.” One said: “It’s just a very unfortunate situation.”

The letter published by Politico included a “Voluntary Repayment Agreement” as an attachment, with an option to pay via credit or debit card.

One anonymous Trump appointee told the publication that the former president had a “good plan,” but, “I just wish I had the option to opt-out.”

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1.2 million people still haven’t cashed their first stimulus check

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In this April 23, 2020, file photo, President Donald Trump’s name is seen on a stimulus check issued by the IRS to help combat the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak, in San Antonio, Texas.

  • The Boston Herald found that 1.2 million of the $1,200 stimulus checks remain unspent.
  • The IRS said those people either refused to accept, paid back, or haven’t cashed the check.
  • Republicans have suggested using unspent COVID money to fund infrastructure, which Democrats strongly oppose.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As a growing number of Democrats are pushing for recurring stimulus checks beyond the three that Americans have already received, the Boston Herald found 1.2 million people still haven’t spent their first $1,200 check, from all the way back in March 2020.

Under the CARES Act passed that month, most Americans received a $1,200 stimulus check to help ease the financial pain of the pandemic. The Herald reported on Sunday that 1.2 million people have yet to spend those checks, citing records obtained from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The records show that California leads the country with 123,265 unspent stimulus checks, followed by Florida with 92,018 unspent checks.

The IRS told the Herald that the figures reflect “the number of people who either refused to accept, paid back or not cashed the stimulus checks they received from the IRS as a result of the CARES Act that was signed into law on March 27, 2020” by President Donald Trump.

Unspent COVID-19 relief money supports Republican lawmakers’ arguments that more money should not be spent on things like infrastructure until money already allocated from pandemic relief bills gets put to use. For example, House Republican Whip Steve Scalise cited in February the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget’s COVID Money Tracker that found $1 trillion of pandemic relief funds are unspent.

“There’s over a trillion dollars of money unspent from previous relief bills that were bipartisan,” Scalise said Feb. 21 on ABC’s This Week.

However, the CRFB noted that figuring out how much money is actually unspent is complicated because much of it is already allocated and scheduled to be spent.

More recently, a growing number of GOP-led states have moved to cut off $300 weekly unemployment benefits early, and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito has suggested using those unspent funds to fund infrastructure.

“I think there’s all kinds of different ways that we’re looking at. Certainly repurposing some of those covid dollars,” she told Bloomberg. “I’ve been looking at those 21 states that are no longer paying the enhanced unemployment – why don’t we repurpose those dollars to help those folks coming off unemployment get work in an infrastructure plan.” The White House has dismissed such suggestions.

Even though 1.2 million stimulus checks remain uncashed, a growing number of Democrats are pushing for checks to be recurring, along with extended unemployment benefits, to sustain economic recovery. A recent report from the Economic Security Project found that sending two more rounds of stimulus checks could keep 12 million more Americans out of poverty, which is why in March, 21 senators wrote a letter to Biden advocating for recurring direct payments. Last week, seven House Democrats wrote a similar letter pushing for the same thing.

“The pandemic has served as a stark reminder that families and workers need certainty in a crisis,” the House Democrats wrote. “They deserve to know they can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads. They should not be at the mercy of constantly shifting legislative timelines and ad hoc solutions.”

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Survivors of domestic violence call on the IRS to recognize financial abuse and help them combat it

domestic violence
  • Lawmakers and domestic violence survivors told Insider the IRS isn’t doing enough to support victims of financial abuse.
  • About 99% of domestic violence survivors experience financial abuse, according to experts.
  • Over the course of the pandemic, abusers pocketed stimulus checks and might direct much-needed child tax credits to their own accounts.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

For almost a year, Democratic and Republican lawmakers have been calling on the IRS to make it easier for domestic violence survivors to collect stimulus checks and tax returns.

Experts say almost all domestic violence survivors experience some form of financial or economic abuse, and lawmakers and IRS representatives continue to hold conversations about ways to prevent it.

But the two parties seem to be at odds. So far, the IRS has not sufficiently delivered on pleas to streamline filing processes, lawmakers and survivors of domestic violence said in interviews and emails with Insider.

Instead, stimulus checks and tax returns designated for survivors have gone straight to their abusers. And now, following President Joe Biden’s announcement that child tax credits are slated for rollout beginning July 15, survivors taking care of children worry their abusers will pocket that money as well.

Rimsha, a 28-year-old survivor who requested her last name be withheld due to safety concerns, said she hasn’t received any of the three stimulus checks Congress approved to offset the financial difficulties brought on by the pandemic. Her abuser filed his tax return jointly without her consent and collected them all instead, she told Insider.

Biden’s child tax credit announcement “makes me more anxious,” Rimsha said. “I’m actually more frustrated. Okay, IRS, you’re going to send that to my husband as well?”

Domestic violence survivors like Rimsha often double as caregivers who, over the past year, have had to adapt to inconvenient circumstances like remote learning while trying to earn a living and support their children.

Adding to the stress of making ends meet, the pandemic has exacerbated the financial abuse nearly all domestic violence survivors endure. Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, abusers have had more opportunities to pocket money that’s not theirs.

While missing out on supplemental income like stimulus checks or child tax credits, survivors also have to navigate tax season.

Even before the pandemic, abusers often tried to claim children on their tax returns to get more money back from the government, according to Teal Inzunza, program director for Economic Empowerment at the Urban Resource Institute, a nonprofit that provides services to domestic violence survivors. But as the country begins to reopen fully and slowly recovers from the economic recession, that extra financial support is more crucial than ever to survivors, experts say.

“Abusers will often fraudulently sign and claim the survivor on their tax return, therefore making it so that the survivor doesn’t have access to really necessary refunds or tax return information,” Inzunza said.

In attempts to get the stimulus checks she’s owed and ensure that all other funds like child tax credits are directed to her account, Rimsha has repeatedly engaged with IRS representatives.

So far, no one has been able to help her, she said.

IRS reps on the phone have used her husband’s joint tax filing as a justification for the issues Rimsha’s facing, she said, adding that she’s even provided the agency with copies of restraining orders against him to explain her case and separate her filings from his.

“It makes me upset,” she said. “Why are the abusers getting away with this?”

Because of the abuse she’s endured, Rimsha has been diagnosed with PTSD, she said.

A congressional push to derail abusers

In a June 2020 letter to the IRS, Democratic lawmakers outlined a series of changes the agency could implement to make it harder for abusers to gain access to accounts and private information that do not belong to them.

That letter, though nearly a year old, reflects many of the same struggles domestic violence survivors still deal with today.

Among the changes recommended was the implementation of a dedicated phone line that survivors could call to report address changes, and the creation of an individual PIN that would heighten security measures and prohibit abusers from accessing or changing their partner’s information. There’s also a suggestion to add information to aid survivors like Rimsha who filed a joint tax return but are no longer with their spouses.

These changes, several lawmakers told Insider, have not been adequately addressed or implemented. And as a result, there will be survivors at risk of losing child tax credits, among other financial support, the lawmakers behind that letter told Insider.

“Right now, these benefits are at risk of being stolen by their abuser unless the IRS takes additional concrete steps to support survivors of domestic violence,” the office of Sen. Sherrod Brown said to Insider in an email.

The changes outlined in the letter remain pertinent today, almost a year after it was sent off to the IRS, lawmakers argue. Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland told Insider changes to the way the IRS collects taxpayer information are needed to ensure survivors have access to “crucial resources” that make it easier for them to keep their information secure and out of the hands of their abusers.

Van Hollen’s office said the senator plans to follow up with the IRS to urge the agency to better support survivors of domestic violence, especially when it comes to financial abuse, a topic less commonly known, but widely prevalent.

About 99% of domestic violence survivors experience financial abuse, according to Blair Dorosh-Walther, program manager of economic empowerment at Safe Horizon, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to providing resources to survivors.

“The average survivor carries over $103,000 worth of debt throughout their lifetime due to the abuse,” Dorosh-Walther said. “This leaves taxpayers with an annual cost of $3.6 trillion due to domestic violence, which is higher than some countries’ GDP.”

Other lawmakers, like Sen. Cortes Masto of Nevada who led the June 2020 letter, said they also plan to continue advocating for survivors to minimize economic abuse. Her office is collaborating with the IRS on ways to revamp the agency’s systems so they benefit survivors over abusers.

“I have consistently called on the IRS to make sure their systems are working” to address economic abuse, Cortes Masto told Insider. “There are clear steps the IRS can take to make sure that survivors can receive the stimulus payments they are owed, and I’m going to keep pushing to make sure they do so.”

Other senators are taking different approaches. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, for example, is working on moving a bill through the Senate that “would reauthorize and improve a federal funding program which lapsed six years ago,” his office said.

“Through grants to states, tribal governments, and territories, survivors would receive services such as emergency shelter, crisis counseling, safety planning, and assistance recovering from financial abuse and housing insecurity,” his office told Insider.

The IRS did not respond to a request for comment.

Financial abuse takes many different forms

Sara Gardner, 29, considers herself both a survivor and an ally to people who’ve experienced domestic violence and financial abuse.

As a kid, her stepdad made large purchases under the guise of supporting Gardner, her mom, and younger sister.

“Growing up, it would be like, why are we not getting groceries but we bought a car? Or a new truck for my stepdad?” Gardner told Insider.

Her mom was always the parent who took care of tax filings, while her stepdad refused to contribute his portion. Only when lawmakers passed the first stimulus relief fund offering Americans $1,200 checks did her stepdad decide to contribute his information and file taxes, Gardner said. That’s when her mom learned he owed over $15,000 in federal and state taxes, Gardner said.

The anxiety of having to deal with that debt got to her.

“I cannot pay over $15,000 back to the government,” Gardner said her mom told her. “I don’t have that.”

Late last year, Gardner’s mom called while her husband was away on business and told her she had to leave him before he returned. Her mom has Parkinson’s disease and is immunocompromised, meaning she had to find isolated shelter where she wouldn’t run the risk of getting sick with COVID-19.

Having that much debt made her mom feel isolated and drove her to consider pursuing suspicious tax services that promised to “stop IRS debt,” Gardner said. Her mom’s credit score had dropped over 100 points, Gardner said.

After she left her husband, Gardner’s mom continued to receive stimulus checks, but they were written out to both her and her abuser because the IRS had their joint tax information on file. That meant both of them had to sign the check in order for the money to be deposited. Gardner’s mom didn’t want to see her abuser, and the onus fell on her to find a way to deposit the check safely and without meeting up with him.

She called the IRS, Gardner said, but a representative was unhelpful, telling her the agency couldn’t do anything since the two parents filed together. Ultimately, Gardner’s mom ended up calling their local bank and asking whether she could come in to sign the check separately from her now-ex-husband. She had to deceive him and promise she’d be there to sign the check with him, Gardner said.

She was able to connect her mom to a shelter program that advocated for her and helped her find a place.

But the financial abuse has left lingering emotional scars, Gardner said.

Her mom, for example, is afraid to spend money on anything other than bills. Because of the fear of going into further debt and losing control of her finances once more, her mom avoids spending leisurely or on personal items whenever possible.

“I buy her a grocery store gift card or a meal or a massage” as gifts, Gardner said, because she knows she will usually try not to buy these things on her own.

Money and personal finances can easily tie into feelings of self-worth and self-validation, experts told Insider. And events like tax season and periods of time that come with financial uncertainty like this pandemic can be major trigger points for survivors of domestic violence who’ve experienced economic abuse.

“With taxes, with credit reports, and then with the stimulus check, it’s just this ongoing reminder of the abuse,” Dorosh-Walther of Safe Horizon told Insider.

In Gardner’s case, her mom is “optimistic” about her future.

“I think she’s really looking forward to filing alone, to having a much more simple return,” Gardner said.

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The US Treasury wants every crypto transfer larger than $10,000 to be reported to the IRS

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  • The US Treasury said a proposal to beef up the IRS includes reporting any transfers of at least $10,000 in cryptocurrencies for tax purposes.
  • “As with cash transactions, businesses that receive crypto assets with a fair-market value of more than $10,000 would also be reported on,” The Treasury Department said.
  • Bitcoin sold off by as much as 6% on Thursday following the announcement.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

The Treasury Department detailed plans to have any cryptocurrency transfers of at least $10,000 to be reported to the Internal Revenue Service in a report on Thursday.

Bitcoin pared its gains and fell by as much as 6% in afternoon trading following the release of the report, adding to the cryptocurrency’s volatile week of trading in which it fell more than 30% in a day.

“As with cash transactions, businesses that receive cryptoassets with a fair-market value of more than $10,000 would also be reported on,” the Treasury Department said in the report. The report is part of the Biden administration’s plans to beef up the IRS in hopes of collecting more tax revenue that otherwise goes unreported.

The IRS first began asking individuals if they ever bought or sold virtual currencies in 2020, and now requires individuals to report capital gains realized from any cryptocurrency transactions.

The Treasury Department said that reporting the crypto transactions is necessary “to minimize the incentives and opportunity to shift income out of the new information reporting regime,” according to the report.

“Cryptocurrency already poses a significant detection problem by facilitating illegal activity broadly including tax evasion,” the Treasury added in its report.

The move by the Treasury Department comes after the Colonial gas pipeline was briefly shutdown due to a ransomware threat, in which the company ultimately paid the hackers $5 million in bitcoin. Those same hackers have collected a total of $90 million in bitcoin by running a similar ransomware scheme against other companies.

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