Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Rich Get Richer

Another example of Republican's governing for the rich.
IRS may cut lawyers who audit the rich

By David Cay Johnston
The New York Times

The federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those 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, within 70 days. Kevin Brown, an IRS deputy commissioner, confirmed the cuts. ...

... But six IRS estate-tax lawyers whose jobs are likely to be eliminated said the cuts were the latest moves at the IRS to shield people with political connections and complex tax-avoidance devices from thorough audits.

Sharyn Phillips, a veteran IRS 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." ...

... The six IRS tax lawyers, some of whom were willing to be named, said that clear evidence of fraud was pursued vigorously by the agency but that when audits showed the use of complicated schemes to understate the value of assets, the IRS had become increasingly reluctant to pursue cases.

The lawyers said the risk-analysis system the IRS used to evaluate whether to pursue such cases gave higher-level officials cover to not pursue tax cheats and emboldened the most aggressive tax advisers to prepare gift- and estate-tax returns that shortchanged the government.

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