Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 2nd, 2019

IRS: Sorry, but It’s Just Easier and Cheaper to Audit the Poor

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The IRS plans to continue its practice of auditing the poor and ignoring the wealthy because…. why? it knows which side its bread is buttered on? In ProPublica Paul Kiel explains how the GOP’s constant push in defunding the IRS more and more has paid off for the wealthy.

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.
For now, the IRS says, while it agrees auditing more wealthy taxpayers would be a good idea, without adequate funding there’s nothing it can do. “Congress must fund and the IRS must hire and train appropriate numbers of [auditors] to have appropriately balanced coverage across all income levels,” the report said.
Since 2011, Republicans in Congress have driven cuts to the IRS enforcement budget; it’s more than a quarter lower than its 2010 level, adjusting for inflation.
Recently, bipartisan support has emerged in both the House and Senate for increasing enforcement spending, but the proposals on the table are relatively modest and would not restore the budget to pre-cut levels. However, even a proposed small increase might not come to pass, because . . .

Continue reading.

Also, because of budget cuts, the IRS doesn’t do random audits as it used to, and random audits are the only way to discover the degree to which taxcheaters are active.

In meantime the US government uses its power to crush the poor: in tax audits, in prisons, in immigration, and in every area in which it can. The Democrats delivered healthcare to the poor, and the GOP is determined to end that.

A famous statement from Mahatma Gandhi springs to mind here: ‘the true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.’ The US does not measure up very well.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2019 at 5:13 pm

The Hunter Biden Timeline

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Kevin Drum has a nice summary:

. . . the consensus view of everyone who’s not a Trump water carrier. Here we go:

  • First off, Ukraine is a very corrupt country. This is the one thing that all sides agree on.
  • In particular, Ukraine’s Prosecutor General in 2016 was Viktor Shokin, a man so corrupt that both the IMF and pretty much every European country insisted he be removed if Ukraine wanted any assistance from the outside world.
  • At this time, Shokin was not investigating Burisma, the energy company on which Hunter Biden held a board seat. This is one of the (many) reasons he was considered corrupt.
  • Joe Biden later told the story of Shokin’s firing like this: “I looked at them and said: ‘I’m leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money.’ Well, son of a bitch. He got fired. And they put in place someone who was solid at the time.” Now, this might be a bit of Biden exaggeration, but it accurately describes the general attitude toward Shokin at the time.
  • A new Prosecutor General was appointed and immediately reopened the investigation into Burisma. In other words, by switching prosecutors Biden probably made things harder on his son, not easier.
  • The new prosecutor eventually reached a deal with Burisma. As with everything in Ukraine, it’s unclear if this was on the up-and-up, but in any case it happened after Trump had won election and Joe Biden no longer had any power or influence.
  • There has never been even a hint of evidence that Hunter Biden did anything wrong. He’s a Washington lobbyist who sits on various boards and had done a few small jobs for Burisma during the Obama administration. The head of Burisma at the time was trying to assemble an “all-star” board of directors and approached Hunter Biden. Was this an attempt to curry favor with the White House? I wouldn’t be surprised. But that has nothing to do with Hunter Biden’s work for Burisma, which he says was mostly about corporate governance.
  • The new prosecutor has stated many times that his investigation came up with absolutely nothing on Hunter Biden.
  • Likewise, there’s not a hint of evidence that Joe Biden ever did anything wrong. . .

Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2019 at 10:10 am

Alpha Zero plays the Evans gambit against Stockfish

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Fascinating game.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2019 at 10:05 am

Weight-loss plateaus

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Interesting brief video from Dr. Greger:

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2019 at 10:03 am

Posted in Health, Science

The excellent iKon 102 with an excellent Mama Bear lather

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I am so pleased with the lathers I’m getting from glycerin-based shaving soap. You should give one a try. There’s Mama Bear and also Kell’s Original. QED no longer offers a glycerin-based shaving soap, but there’s always Col. Conk. I’ll bring out one of those tomorrow, just to see how it stacks up, lather-wise.

Energy has a nice fragrance, and I believe you can get this from Kell’s Original as well. With the Kent Infinity I quickly got a terrific lather, and the redoubtable 102 performed its usual absolutely first-rate job. I still find this to be my favorite slant. Three passes to perfection.

A good splash of Royal Copenhagen, and I’m ready for the day after a good night’s sleep. Yesterday was mattress-flip day (October 1 and April 1 are mattress-flip days; January 1 and July 1 are mattress-rotate-180º days) and right after a mattress is in its new orientation, I seem to sleep better.

Written by Leisureguy

2 October 2019 at 9:38 am

Posted in Daily life, Shaving

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