Bush Continues to Shift Tax Burden Away from Ultra-Rich
by Jonathan Singer, Sun Jul 23, 2006 at 12:47:36 PM EDT
A central tenet of George W. Bush's governing ideology during the last five and a half years as President, as well as six years as Texas Governor, has been to shift the burden of taxes away from the wealthiest among us to those who have a more difficult time making ends meet. When this ultimate goal cannot be achieved through policy -- i.e. through legislation -- Bush has signaled a desire and willingness to use administrative fiat to make life easier for the extremely wealthy. The New York Times' David Cay Johnston details the latest example of this effort.
The federal government is moving to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the lawyers at the Internal Revenue Service who audit tax returns of some of the wealthiest Americans, specifically those who are 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, in less than 70 days. Kevin Brown, an I.R.S. deputy commissioner, confirmed the cuts after The New York Times was given internal documents by people inside the I.R.S. who oppose them.
As Johnston explains, it is not as if these lawyers are not needed, or that the current staff is not effective.
Estate tax lawyers are the most productive tax law enforcement personnel at the I.R.S., according to Mr. Brown. For each hour they work, they find an average of $2,200 of taxes that people owe the government.
Unless the firing of half of all estate tax lawyers at the IRS doubles the efficiency of the remaining attorneys -- and I'm extremely skeptical that it will -- this will be yet another tax cut given by George W. Bush to his super-rich allies. And at a time at which working Americans are hurting at the pump, the country is embarked in a never-ending military engagement in Iraq and the federal deficit continues to stand close to an all-time high, we simply cannot afford to give those least in need more tax cuts, particularly outside of the normal legislative process.