As Tax Day - which I fondly refer to as Government Theft Day - came and went on April 18, did you find yourself plunking down a pile of cash to pay your taxes? Or perhaps you instead put down your direct deposit for a tax “return” on your own money that the government just had borrowed interest-free, to be graciously bequeathed back to you whenever the IRS gets a chance to cut the check.
Then this should make you feel fantastic: the U.S. government, funded by Ours Truly, wasted nearly $250 billion - billion, with a “b” - on erroneous payments last year alone.
True story. According to the Government Accountability Office, the federal government forked out $247 billion in taxpayer cash in wrongful payments, which include things like overpayments or unnecessary payments, in FY2022. CNBC details that about 78% of those errors were over five major federal programs: $80.6 billion wasted in Medicaid, $46.8 billion in Medicare, $29 billion in the COVID-era Paycheck Protection Program, $18.9 billion in unemployment insurance, and $18.2 billion in earned income tax credits.
And it’s not like this is a recent problem. The issue of erroneous payments is ongoing and well-documented, coming in at about $2.4 trillion over the past 20 years.
“The government has just lost, as if you dropped it on the sidewalk, trillions and trillions of dollars over the last few decades,” Richard Stern, a budget and spending expert from the Heritage Foundation, told CNBC. “That is money that was stolen from hardworking Americans to just simply get wasted.”
These erroneous payments make up just a fraction of the federal waste that piles up like dog poop every year. As bad - and expensive - as these screw-ups are, they don’t include all the taxpayer cash the feds dump on bloated agencies, ridiculous grants and studies, empty buildings, unnecessary or duplicate programs, and the salaries of self-aggrandizing bureaucrats like Anthony Fauci.
Happy Tax Day, everyone!