There is something inspiring about the annual civic ritual that played out Tuesday. Millions of people submitting tax forms, poring over details to get them just right, even though very few will ever be audited. They are dutifully, if not necessarily cheerfully, paying the price of admission into a civilized society.
Still, we're not so naive as to believe that compliance would be unchanged if cheaters were never caught. That is one reason President Donald Trump's proposal to slash Internal Revenue Service funding is such an abysmal idea. The president last month suggested reducing the national tax collector's $11.2 billion budget by $239 million this after Republicans already have cut $1 billion from its budget since taking over Congress at the beginning of this decade.
Attacking the IRS is a particularly expensive way to play to the crowd. It rewards tax cheats at everyone else's expense. Commissioner John Koskinen estimates that the government loses at least $4 for every $1 cut from the IRS and is losing some $4 billion to $8 billion a year due to inadequate funding.