Now that the state is facing an $18B shortfall (according to appropriations chairman Jim Pitts, but not so, according to Governor Perry), and the business tax is underperforming, the time is right to do an audit of tax returns. At a time when every dollar is crucial, two questions stand out:
1. Are taxpayers accurately assessing their tax liability and are they paying everything that they owe?
2. Are there tax scofflaws who are not paying their taxes, and, if so, is the comptroller’s office making every effort to find out who they are and collect what is owed?
I’m not suggesting that Comptroller Combs has anything to hide. I’m suggesting that some businesses may not be paying what they owe, which could account for at least part of the underperformance of the business tax. I assume that the Comptroller’s office does do regular audits; they may already have been done. But when the state is facing a fiscal crisis, the Comptroller should do everything possible to determine whether every business entity is meeting its obligation to the state, and, if the answer is no, how the state can collect what is due. The only way to be sure is an independent audit followed by enforcement if necessary.