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Tipsheet

Nice Job, Democrats: You Want to Re-Arm an Agency That Targets Poor, Rural Blacks

AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

The Democrats want to give the Internal Revenue Service $80 billion to finance what could only be continued harassment of the American taxpayer. Around 87,000 new agents can be hired, but even former commissioners of this hated agency admit that the chunk of cash the IRS is about to receive is too much to be allocated efficiently. That may be a first in which officials who formerly headed the government agency argued that the proposed cash injection by Democrats should be much less. Yet, given the Democratic Party’s obsession with race and class, did they read the ProPublica investigation that showed the IRS targets rural black communities at a higher rate than predominately white ones? Wouldn’t this fall under the category of ‘problematic’ in today’s ‘woke’ era of politics among the political Left? 

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It centers on the Earned Income Tax Credit, whose formula for qualification is byzantine and, yes, can be exploited for fraud. Then again, the complex ways the uber-wealthy find ways to evade taxes is probably the more significant issue. The IRS says that EITC audits are done more often since they can be done cheaply and require little manpower and resources to execute. This story also isn’t new. ProPublica’s piece was published in 2019, but I’m sure this got lost with all the hysterics about the Russian collusion hoax. So, congratulations, liberals—you just re-armed an agency who’s known to have been targeting black taxpayers because it’s easy (via ProPublica):

Every year, the IRS, starved of funds after years of budget cuts, loses hundreds more agents to retirement. And every year, the news gets better for the rich — especially those prone to go bold on their taxes. According to data released by the IRS last week, millionaires in 2018 were about 80% less likely to be audited than they were in 2011.

But poor taxpayers continue to bear the brunt of the IRS’ remaining force. As we reported last year, Americans who receive the earned income tax credit, one of the country’s largest anti-poverty programs, are audited at a higher rate than all but the richest taxpayers. The new data shows that the trend has only grown stronger.

[…]

In a statement, IRS spokesman Dean Patterson acknowledged that the sharp decline in audits of the wealthy is due to the agency having lost so many skilled auditors. And he didn’t dispute that pursuing the poor is just easier.

Because EITC audits are largely conducted through the mail by lower-level employees from a central location, they are “less burdensome for taxpayers than in-person audits as they mail in their documentation and don’t have to take time out of the workday,” Patterson said.

[…]

The agency audited 382,000 recipients of the EITC in 2018, accounting for 43% of all audits of individuals last year. When we mapped the estimated audit rates for every county in America, the counties with the highest audit rates were poor, rural, mostly African American and in the South, a reflection of the high number of EITC claims there.

Natassia Smick and her husband were among those unlucky 382,000 households. We wrote about them last year. They live outside Los Angeles and saw their entire refund frozen in February 2018. For a couple who earned about $33,000 in 2017, that $7,300 refund was big money ($2,000 of it stemmed from the EITC). When it didn’t come, Smick said she had to abandon plans for catching up with her credit card debt.

[…]

For poor taxpayers, the worst part of the EITC audits is usually the beginning. That’s because they almost always begin with the shock of the refund being held.

But the audits also hardly ever end well. According to data in the new study, most end without the taxpayer responding at all, and the poorer the audit target, the more likely that is to happen. Those with wage income under $10,000 per year, for instance, didn’t respond at all in 64% of the EITC audits. For those with income over $40,000 per year, that rate dipped to 35%.

The diminished response rate of the poorest taxpayers in part reflects that they are harder to reach: In 15% of those audits, the mail couldn’t be delivered. But earlier studies have also shown that many poor taxpayers don’t understand they are being audited or have trouble deciphering what the IRS is asking in its letters.

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In truth, the issue of race is not necessary here, though we’re forced to talk about it since it’s the raison d'être for some liberal activists and media members. The truth is that no one should be harassed by agents of the state, especially the IRS—and we can now include the FBI and DOJ in the wake of their raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence this week. Yet, that’s in a perfect world.

We all hate the IRS. You’d be hard-pressed to find any American who is in full-bloom love with this agency, except the neo-Marxist who doesn’t pay any taxes because he or she is too poor. 

Yet, that’s in a perfect world. Still, given how everything on the Left is viewed through the prism of racial justice and equality, giving a federal agency more money to harass poor rural blacks seems like something that would cause the most progressive members nauseous. Ironically, the most progressive and ideological rigid members of the Democratic Party are overwhelmingly white, wealthy, and college-educated. These folks are also starting to take over the agenda-setting on the issues of racial justice, which I’m sure has the original leaders of Black Lives Matter scratching their heads.   

And now, the IRS’s special agent job page was removed after the description included being willing to carry a firearm and use deadly force if necessary. So, not only are Democrats trying to juice up the IRS to go after alleged tax cheats, which has in the past concentrated on auditing rural black Americans, but now these federal agents might gun you down too. 

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