Good news, everyone: Joe Biden’s nominee to head the IRS has promised to make tax audits more racially “equitable”! In other words, get ready for more shakedowns from the government, white people.
It was bad enough that Biden just infused nearly $100 billion into an agency despised by anyone trying to make an honest living — we’re the ones most likely to be harassed by it — but now it comes with the added insult of “equity,” a term that should be greeted like a real pandemic. Draw the blinds, close the shutters, and lock the doors.
Daniel Werfel, who is likely to be the next IRS commissioner, made the commitment during his congressional testimony on Wednesday after Stanford University published a study claiming that black taxpayers are disproportionately hit with audits. As with every other law or policy that supposedly “disproportionately impacts communities of color” (ie. rules meant to keep everyone safe and everything fair from ne’er-do-wells), this is B.S.
It’s true that black filers receive audit notices at a higher rate than non-black filers. But that’s because black taxpayers claim certain lower-income tax credits, like the earned income tax credit or credits for single parents, at a higher rate. That often means a filer receives money from the government that he never paid into it. “When someone claims one of these tax credits, which are part of our country’s social safety net,” the study said, “they receive a refund amount even if they didn’t pay any taxes.” (The term “refund” here is inaccurate for money that was never given by a taxpayer.) These credits are most likely to instigate an audit purely based on an IRS algorithm.
The authors wrote that black filers made up 21 percent of earned income tax credit (EITC) claims. Single black men with dependents — unmarried fathers — also make up the largest group of EITC claims. In other words, blacks only make up about 13 percent of the population but are more likely to file claims that are most likely to trigger an audit, even as the IRS has no idea what race any given filer is. (There is no race box to check off when submitting the paper work and the study had to do a lot of cross referencing with the U.S. Census to determine who was being audited.)
The only way to balance out this supposed injustice — equity! — is for IRS agents to consciously target more non-blacks for audits. And trust me, it won’t be the filers with names like “Wiyot” and “Kai.”
Of course, the national media have assured us that shooting the IRS up with $80 billion in steroids is for the purpose of nothing more than modernizing systems, hiring more “customer service” agents, and filling “technical support” roles. Any criticism or worry that a bigger IRS will mean more audits for middle-income earners is “misleading” or “more conspiracy theories,” as so dutifully described by the New York Times.
Yeah, the Times always gets it right. Recall when conservative non-profits were complaining about special harassment from the IRS during the Obama years, and the Times dismissed it as a partisan issue for the GOP to “seize on,” as if it were merely a matter of political games. Today, the Times admits in its own coverage about the incoming IRS chief that there had, in fact, been “improper targeting of conservative groups.”
In a decade, the paper will perhaps confess that the newly supersized IRS really did result in yet more $170,000-income joint filers taking hours out of their days to correspond with tax agents via fax machine.