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Since April was tax payment month, it seems only fitting that we examine the fate of the Internal Revenue Service, which for years has been under attack by the corporate captives in the Republican Party. Alas, what had been the fierce guardian of the treasury has evolved into a toothless tiger, a sick one at that. On April 18, the Des Moines Register published an editorial from which I quote the main message:

“The biggest winners of the GOP tax laws are corporations. Reports show 60 companies reported their 2018 taxes amounted to zero or less than zero. Added up they paid on $79 billion in pretax income and got all of it back as rebates and more.”

The real state of our ability to finance the needs of our country came in a blazing article in Nation magazine by Bryce Covert and Mike Konegzat. Here is the thrust of their expose:

“The IRS is cut so severely it no longer can conduct audits on super rich and corporations. Since 2010 Congress slashed their budget $2 billion resulting in drastic drops to audits. Audits for the wealthiest have fallen from 8 percent in 2011 to 2.5 percent in 2017.”

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I am gleaning the actual state of things from the Nation article, and if there are any thinking persons out there they will realize our country is in dire danger from within. If the agency had pursued tax law enforcement as aggressively in 2017 as it did before 2010 it would have collected $18 billion more in 2017 than it actually did collect. Over the seven-year period our treasury missed out on $95 billion! All from those who need the money the least. Audits from millionaires recouped only $1.8 billion in 2017 compared with $5.1 billion in 2010.

Who is being audited? Believe it or not, it is people being aided by the Affordable Care Act. Translation: Poor people who have the least wherewithal to cheat and wouldn’t even know how. The super rich and corporations playing their complicated tax avoidance games can gamble on never being audited and escape scot-free. Their attitude is, “We paid our taxes all year, we deserve to get it back the following year.” For years I have overpaid my taxes from earnings, and yes, I get rebates, but the IRS still gets its share. When can we get over this attitude that our government is the enemy? That attitude arrived on our shores along with immigrants from oppressive regimes that simply descended on them and took what they wanted, whether it was needed or not.

Reducing or eliminating the IRS, as proposed by 29 Republican senators, is simply cutting off our noses to spite our faces. It would be catastrophic. With the IRS back in its original mode of guarding our nation’s badly needed income, every dollar spent on its enforcement and modernization saves $200 for the government. However, if the IRS cannot do its job, money is left on the table or in the pockets of people and corporations who need it least. That’s why the IRS needs its audit capability returned to what it was before 2010 when corporate-backed congressional lackeys obeyed their masters, and thus have put our nation in danger of becoming a possession of overseas predators in a few years. You think I’m being facetious? Look at page 7 of the April 26 Nation magazine.

“Ashland, Ky.: The Russian aluminum company Rusal announced plans this week to invest $200 million in a Kentucky plant.” That is in Mitch McConnell’s backyard, folks!

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Stanley Smith is a former Cedar Falls City Council member.

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