Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Robin Hood In Reverse

The administration of the rich, by the rich, and for the rich, is making a pretty audacious move here:

The federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those who are subject to gift and estate taxes when they transfer parts of their fortunes to their children and others.

The administration plans to cut the jobs of 157 of the agency's 345 estate tax lawyers, plus 17 support personnel, in less than 70 days. Kevin Brown, an I.R.S. deputy commissioner, confirmed the cuts after The New York Times was given internal documents by people inside the I.R.S. who oppose them. (...)

(S)ix I.R.S. estate tax lawyers whose jobs are likely to be eliminated said in interviews that the cuts were just the latest moves behind the scenes at the I.R.S. to shield people with political connections and complex tax-avoidance devices from thorough audits.

Sharyn Phillips, a veteran I.R.S. estate tax lawyer in Manhattan, called the cuts a "back-door way for the Bush administration to achieve what it cannot get from Congress, which is repeal of the estate tax." (...)

Over the last five years, officials at both the I.R.S. and the Treasury have told Congress that cheating among the highest-income Americans is a major and growing problem.

"This is not a game the poor will win, but the rich will," said John Hruska, another I.R.S. estate tax lawyer in New York who, like Ms. Phillips, is active in the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents I.R.S. workers.

Colleen M. Kelley, the national union president, said: "If these lawyers are not there to audit the gift and estate tax returns, then a lot of taxes that should be paid will go uncollected, and that impacts every taxpayer who is paying their fair share."

It never fails to amuse me to see people who are not wealthy support the Republican Party, the economic policies of which are geared toward the rich and actively hostile to the middle class.

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