Chart of the Day: Audits of Rich People Plummeted Last Year

Never let it be said that rich people don’t get their money’s worth from the Republicans they vote for:

This comes from the Wall Street Journal, which reports the following by way of explanation:

Audits of the highest-income households dropped sharply, to their lowest levels since the IRS began reporting that data in 2008. In fiscal 2018, the IRS audited 6.66% of returns of filers with more than $10 million in adjusted gross income, down from 14.52% in 2017.

….The IRS released the data as it is trying to persuade Congress to make long-run investments in the agency’s technology and enforcement staff. So far, however, key Republicans in Congress remain skeptical, and there are mixed signals about whether the government will reverse the steady decline in tax enforcement. “I’m not averse to beefing up their budget a little bit but I want to see results,” said Sen. John Kennedy (R., La.), who heads the subcommittee that oversees the IRS budget. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in the new commissioner and in the new secretary, but I’m not into just throwing money at the wall because the bureaucracy says we need more.”

….Many of the recent changes have stemmed from Republican spending cuts after they took control of the House in 2011 and after the IRS said in 2013 that it had improperly scrutinized some conservative nonprofit groups. Adjusted for inflation, the 2019 IRS budget is smaller than in 2000 and is 19% below peak funding in 2010….The number of examiners that performs audits shrunk 38% from 2010 to 2017.

“Key Republicans in Congress remain skeptical.” Ha ha ha. Good one. Needless to say, reducing the IRS enforcement budget and its number of auditors has been the whole point of Republican policy toward the IRS over the past couple of decades. Rich people are unhappy when they get audited, and we can’t have that, can we?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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