Federal Taxes

Information on Payroll Taxes and Earned Income Tax Credit Noncompliance Gao ID: GAO-01-487T March 7, 2001

This testimony discusses (1) how payroll taxes fund Social Security and the Medicare Hospital Insurance (HI) programs and (2) noncompliance associated with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and efforts to deal with that noncompliance. Payroll taxes fund the Social Security Program and the Medicare HI program. These taxes are paid in equal portions by employees and their employers. Employees and their families become eligible to collect these benefits once workers have been employed for a sufficient period of time. Although Social Security benefits are calculated using a formula that considers lifetime earnings, HI benefits are based on the health of the covered individual and are paid directly to the health care provider. Demographic trends indicate that these programs will impose an increasing burden on the federal budget and the overall economy. Regarding EITC, significant compliance problems can expose the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to billions of dollars in overpayments. EITC noncompliance is identified as taxpayer errors and intent to defraud. IRS and Congress have taken several steps to reduce noncompliance, including the passage of laws that enabled IRS to disallow EITC claims with invalid social security numbers and the implementation of a five-year EITC compliance initiative.

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