Before Warren Buffett and Mitt Romney enter a bidding war over who will volunteer more of their millions to reduce the deficit, the government could recoup many billions of dollars every year if Congress just made it easier for the Treasury to collect what it's already owed by law.
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Meet the tax gap -- the difference between taxes owed and taxes paid.
Via the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the IRS has found that in 2006, taxpayers shorted the government by about $385 billion -- and an additional $65 billion was paid late. Back then, the tax gap was bigger than the annual budget deficit. With the economy still suffering, that's likely not true today. But closing it even partially would take substantial pressure off of strained federal programs, which have been under constant attack by the GOP for over a year.
As you can see, the tax gap is on the order of the government's biggest expenditure categories, and dwarfs the voluntary contributions Republicans suggest wealthy liberals like Buffett should volunteer to the Treasury.