+“IRS: Sorry, but It’s Just Easier and Cheaper to Audit the Poor” | ProPublica | Paul Kiel
“The IRS audits the working poor at about the same rate as the wealthiest 1%. Now, in response to questions from a U.S. senator, the IRS has acknowledged that’s true but professes it can’t change anything unless it is given more money.
ProPublica reported the disproportionate audit focus on lower-income families in April. Lawmakers confronted IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig about the emphasis, citing our stories, and Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asked Rettig for a plan to fix the imbalance. Rettig readily agreed.
Last month, Rettig replied with a report, but it said the IRS has no plan and won’t have one until Congress agrees to restore the funding it slashed from the agency over the past nine years — something lawmakers have shown little inclination to do.
On the one hand, the IRS said, auditing poor taxpayers is a lot easier: The agency uses relatively low-level employees to audit returns for low-income taxpayers who claim the earned income tax credit. The audits — of which there were about 380,000 last year, accounting for 39% of the total the IRS conducted — are done by mail and don’t take too much staff time, either. They are “the most efficient use of available IRS examination resources,” Rettig’s report says.
On the other hand, auditing the rich is hard. It takes senior auditors hours upon hours to complete an exam. What’s more, the letter says, “the rate of attrition is significantly higher among these more experienced examiners.” As a result, the budget cuts have hit this part of the IRS particularly hard.”
—>Using deregulation, tax cuts, and budget cuts to weaken government while also making it susceptible to the influences of wealth and corporate power is known as “starving the beast.” It’s 40-year goal—a massive wealth transfer from the bottom 90% to the top 10% through mechanisms such as globalization, bailouts, quantitative easing, the tax code, and the unbridled growth of finance capitalism—has been achieved. There are only a handful of Democrats and virtually no Republicans who want to reverse this dismal trend. So, when someone wearing a top hat, spats, and a monocle says “How’re you going to pay for it, young lady?” when you say universal healthcare, the Green New Deal, universal basic income, or a $15 minimum wage sound like good ideas because you grew up in a family for whom wages had been stagnant since 1979 and you’re now loaded down with six-figure student loan debt, understand that this plutocrat’s question is asked rhetorically. And not without a modicum of contempt. Mr. Moneybags saw no one rioting in the streets after Congress gave $750 billion in bailouts to banks in 2008. And none of his banker buddies who committed theft and fraud on a cosmic scale got rightly tarred and feathered for their misdeeds. And he also knows that because our system of checks and balances is so way out of balance that there will be no administration that will audit the poor less and the rich more. Moneybags knows that the fix has been in for more than a generation and that everything is going to plan. There will be no Mr. Robot moment because the only thing keeping our rapacious brand of capitalism from collapsing is the extent to which the rest of us have aligned our values with his.
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