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IRS to focus on working poor (that means us)

Tuesday, May 2, 2000

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More than baseball, tax-filing anxiety may be the thing that unitesAmericans each spring. But most of us believe that if we just fill out theforms and get them filed by April 15th, we'll be okay. The Internal RevenueService targets the rich and the big corporations, right? After all, that'swhere the real money is. You would think.

It ain't necessarily so. Now the IRS has changed its focus and the poorest taxpayers--and that means women--are more likely to be audited, according toa recent report by Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. "This is dueto a congressional mandate to eliminate abuses in the Earned Income TaxCredit designed for the poor," said Dr. Susan B. Long, co-director of theclearinghouse and professor of Quantitative Methods at SyracuseUniversity. As if this isn't bad enough, corporations are being treated moreleniently.

The IRS says it collected $1.77 trillion in 1998. Only 2percent of that came from enforcement efforts such as audits,seizures, liens and levies. With that record, the Tax Manapparently believes he has nothing to lose by going after thosewith the smallest assets and, more importantly, are the least likely tohave legal representation.

The TRAC report can be found at www.trac.syr.edu. Click on TRAC IRS.