Bush's Tax Crackdown

At last, the IRS, prodded by the Bush White House and Republicans in congress, is cracking down on tax cheats!

Great -- finally they'll stop the giant corporations and superwealthy investors from using tax scams and offshore tax havens to hide at least $150 billion a year of their profits, thus dodging their tax responsibilities to our country...right? Uh, not exactly. The Bushites and the IRS are not going after the big fish. Instead, they're going after the small fry, launching a massive, bureaucratic, intrusive, wasteful, unfair, elitist, intimidating, mean, abusive, and stupid effort to crack down on the meager tax filings of the working poor.

The target is a successful program called the Earned Income Tax Credit. It's for people who work in low-wage jobs at McDonald's, Wal-Mart, Starbucks, and the like, offsetting some of the taxes these workers would pay and helping them to rise a bit above poverty. The average credit for workers with children is less than $2,000 a year, but that can make a difference when your job only pays $12- to- 20,000 a year.

Some four million Americans count on this tax credit, but the Bushites now intend to harass them from using the program. They've issued new IRS rules that require recipients to submit documented proof that they are eligible in advance of claiming the tax credit. This is a cumbersome, complex, and intimidating burden of advance proof that is not required of corporations that have entire tax firms to hop them through loopholes and gain tax breaks not of a mere $2,000 - but of $20 million, $200 million or more.

The new rules are so severe that honest, low-income taxpayers will have to hire tax preparers to handle the extra paperwork -- and meanwhile, George W has asked congress for $100 million to hire hundreds of new IRS agents to go after these poor workers.

Enlarging government to harass poor people is neither compassionate nor conservative.

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