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Excerpt: "Attacking the IRS is a particularly expensive way to play to the crowd. It rewards tax cheats at everyone else’s expense."

Donald Trump. (photo: Bill Clark/Roll Call)
Donald Trump. (photo: Bill Clark/Roll Call)

Trump Plans to Reward Tax Cheats

By The Washington Post Editorial Board

19 April 17


HERE IS something inspiring about the annual civic ritual playing out on Tuesday. Millions of people will submit 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 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.

The agency’s workforce has contracted by some 17,000 employees in recent years while demands on the agency, from preventing identity theft to enforcing Obamacare’s individual health-insurance mandate, have expanded. Fewer employees means less enforcement: Last year the agency conducted the fewest audits since 2004 — when the U.S. population was about 30 million smaller, the Associated Press notes — and its audit rate has declined to a point not seen since 2003. The more the integrity of the tax oversight system comes into doubt, the more tax-day shenanigans people will attempt — and the more even honest people will wonder why they bother paying such close attention while less scrupulous people get rewarded.

Fewer IRS employees also means worse customer service. Though by some measures service has improved over the past year, it is still far below what it should be. Some callers needing help still have trouble getting through to live people in a reasonable amount of time.

“I was particularly surprised that at looking at the IRS numbers that the IRS head count has gone down quite dramatically, almost 30 percent over the last number of years,” Steven Mnuchin said in his confirmation hearings as treasury secretary. “I can assure you that the president-elect understands the concept of where we add people and we make money,” he said. “That’s a very quick conversation with Donald Trump.”

It may have been quick, but apparently the logic was not as self-evident as Mr. Mnuchin expected. The country will quite literally pay. your social media marketing partner


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+9 # bdeja 2017-04-19 09:55
His it possible that this President seems to be able to get away with anything? Where is our Democracy with its laws? Where is our media to call this misuse of power? What are we?
+3 # Radscal 2017-04-19 15:44
We're being herded into protesting that Trump hasn't released his tax returns, instead of protesting his tax "reforms" that will cause even more harm to the 99% than Obama's having made Bush II's tax cuts for the rich permanent.

The "Donor Class" benefits from Trump's tax policies, so don't expect the Democratic Party to do much to oppose them.

If electoral politics can bring change, then we have to vote out every single corporate Democrat along with as many Republicans as we can with the strong Progressive policies that even Trump voters support once they understand them.
+4 # giraffee23 2017-04-19 10:01
Trump is so untrustworthy. Without knowing his tax status, one can only assume HE WILL benefit by this move. I want him to GO AWAY --- NOW. Where is the FBI on checking the Trump - Putin connection. We are teased by knowing those in his camp who ARE CONNECTED to Russia --- Can we still trust the FBI?? The CIA?
+1 # Radscal 2017-04-19 15:53
Of course Trump will personally benefit from this tax "reform." So will the Clintons, and all the other 1%. The tax train has been on one track since the 1960s. You and I pay more, the rich and corporations pay less.

Why did the FBI drop their investigation into the Clinton Foundation? Three separate FBI offices wanted to prosecute them for different international crimes, but were stopped.

Why don't we care that the Clinton Foundation got $tens of millions from Russian interests (and Billy himself got a cool half million for a single speech to a Russian bank) right when HRC was ramming through giving Russia 20% of US Uranium resources?

This are but a few of many dirty deals that prevented Bernie Sanders from getting the Nomination, and becoming our President. And the incredible energy of his supporters would likely have won many seats "down ticket," too.
+2 # JSRaleigh 2017-04-21 07:11
Quoting Radscal:
Of course Trump will personally benefit from this tax "reform." So will the Clintons, and all the other 1%. The tax train has been on one track since the 1960s. You and I pay more, the rich and corporations pay less.

The U.S. Tax code was still fairly robust & progressive (i.e. the rich & corporations paid their fair share) until the mid point of Ronald Reagan's first term when Reaganomics took full effect.
0 # Radscal 2017-04-21 12:05
Yeah, it got worse under Saint Ronnie's Reign. The tax code has gone in the direction I noted at least since JFK lowered taxes on the wealthiest and some corporations. That was the first I noticed. Since then, it has grown more and more regressive.

In fact, when the Federal Income Tax was first passed, most regular workers didn't qualify to pay a penny into it. I read a well-researched article about how what we now call "unearned income" was originally the primary source of tax revenues. Most labor wasn't taxed at all. Now, "unearned income" is taxed at the lowest possible rate, or passed on in ways so as to avoid taxes all together.

So, perhaps I should have written, taxes have become more regressive ever since FDR was replaced by Mr. Cold War.
0 # Wise woman 2017-04-21 22:18
Makes us all feel kind of helpless, doesn't it? The liar in chief gets away with murder and we`re like sitting ducks trying to figure out who's going to protect us from this sinister sociopath. Nobody in Congress seems to be calling him out. Boy, I remember when Obama was giving his first state of the union address and some repub stood up and yelled "liar." How come the dems aren't doing that loud and clear? What does it take to get them disconnected from big money so they can develop a big mouth?
0 # Radscal 2017-04-22 16:20
Clearly, the corporate Dems are not in opposition to Drumpf on most issues.

I do not expect to convince corrupt politicians to stop taking bribes. The only hope in electoral politics I can see is by individual funding and volunteering for new politicians like we did with Bernie.
0 # Wise woman 2017-04-22 04:07
Hey since he's one of them, he might as well reward them for bad behavior. The money they save can go right into republican coffers to help elect the next round of bad boys.

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