How the super-rich defeated the IRS's crack Global High Wealth unit

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/04/06/dead-on-arrival.html

8 Likes

If they can’t raise the money from the Too Big To Audit, they’ll just have to squint closer at the middle-class who can’t fight back.

15 Likes

No problem - the President is appointing dozens and dozens of new judges, so I’m sure those delaying tactics will be a thing of the past!

10 Likes

It’s the same tactic that’s been used by conservatives for decades: say “government is always incompetent”; starve an agency or programme of funding and resources and support to the point where it can’t carry out its stated mission effectively; and then say “we told you so!”

27 Likes

56? Interestingly that’s about the same amount of FTC folks working on electronic consumer protection. (Another, IMHO purposefully kneecapped dept)

6 Likes

Does no one remember that George Bush basically fired everyone in that division upon taking office?

7 Likes

Thank you for finding the limits of my sarcasm meter I think you just broke it

5 Likes

It’s because the super-rich have better crack.

1 Like

So “trickle-down” really meant “gushing up and away from scrutiny”.

4 Likes

They don’t go after the middle class. They go after people who claim the EITC, even less resources to resist. If you claim the EITC, you are something like 20 times more likely to be audited, maybe more, I’m fuzzy in that stat at the moment for some reason.

Edit: I was mixing it up. EITC recipients are more likely to be audited than those making 20 times as much.

12 Likes

You’re correct but I don’t think for the reasons you think. It’s not a matter of political clout but of numbers penciling out. That 50 billion is hardly a sneeze in the bucket of just the annual (just federal) deficit. Not new programs or spending, just the deficit. And middle class taxes have always been a political third rail so I think they will be just fine.

I think pushing the soak-the-rich line has painted progressives into a corner. We could soak the rich for every dollar they have and it’s not going to pay for everything progressives want- it’s going to require everyone, including the middle and working classes, to pay more in taxes, and that’s a major cultural uphill battle that hasn’t even been brought up much less fought.

2 Likes

Stop using the Howells as symbols of the evil rich. I like the Howells.

5 Likes

and after 2020, there’s a good chance we’ll have the political will, too.

now is not the time to get over-confident about defeating trump in 2020

5 Likes

Honestly, I’m okay with paying my fair share of taxes to get things I want, like clean water, bridges in good repair, and (oh, please!) perhaps universal health care, even if it goes up some. What I don’t want is people who could buy and sell me 20 times over without a thought skeeving out of their appropriate share.

13 Likes

There may be a horrible kind of logic at work here. It makes me think of the Child Support Agency, the UK government agency whose job was to ensure that parents responsible for paying child support paid up. The assumption was that the CSA would crack down on deadbeat parents who refused to pay their court-ordered share. Instead, it turned out that most of those targeted by the CSA were parents who’d tried their best to be responsible, but had missed or been late with one or two payments. In other words, they were targeting the ‘good’ ones rather than the ‘bad’.

Why? Well, it turned out that going after the real scumbags was a lot more costly, because they had to track them down, take them to court and fight the case again (because scumbags who can’t or won’t pay child support always seem to have money for lawyers). The ‘good ones’, on the other hand, were low-hanging fruit: their current addresses and bank details were on file, they were eager to do the right thing, and so on. Going after them let the CSA close more cases, keep costs down, and report more money recovered.

It’s the same with trying to go after rich tax evaders. The rich can (and will) summon up battalions of lawyers to make the IRS fight for every nickel. Any attempt to get them to pay up turns into a costly court battle that involves expert lawyers, expert witnesses, complicated testimonies and tens of thousands of billable hours. Much easier to aim for the low-hanging fruit here too – a few thousand poor people trying to get the EITC on their paltry earnings. They don’t have expensive lawyers on retainer to turn every interaction into a legal battle, and the IRS can take their slice straight out of their pay packets, instead of having to dig for it in a nest of Cayman Islands shell companies.

This is not to say that this isn’t a shit state of affairs. It is. But there’s a ghastly logic to it, and it may not be possible to explain it away solely in terms of government’s unwillingness to stick it to the rich.

5 Likes

It’s interesting, because the map of the locations where people are most likely to be audited are not just poorer areas, but also the less white ones (e.g. apparently there are some dark spots on the map that stand out - because those areas have reservations).

8 Likes

Being a billionaire is a crime against democracy. Any punishment should be acceptable, as long as (a) it can’t be appealed and (b) the culprit ceases to be a billionaire. That covers everything from impoverishment to capital punishment.

1 Like

You could cease to be a billionaire and still have $999 million.

They say Jeff Bezos is worth $150 billion. One hundred and fifty thousand million dollars. I’m not sure the human brain can even encompass that kind of personal wealth.

6 Likes

I can’t even work out how to split a twenty.

3 Likes

Interesting sure, but depressingly unsurprising. Fairly standard output in a system with baked in white supremacy.

1 Like