President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump arrive for Christmas Eve dinner at Mar-a-lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

In The New York Times, Neil Irwin points out that there’s a straightforward way a new Biden administration could begin clawing back some of the outrageous gains made by the wealthy even if Republicans remain bent on keeping taxes on the wealthy at budget-busting new lows: enforce the existing tax laws. Identify the wealthy tax cheats who, like a certain orange-hued someone, have been abusing tax laws for years and end their cheating.

There’s a catch here, though, and it’s the obvious and crooked one. Republicans have been defunding the Internal Revenue Service for years in an effort to block exactly those sorts of audits and oversight. The IRS has increasingly targeted lower-income Americans with audits and enforcement, while probes of the wealthy have decreased. Those audits, say criminals allies of the wealthy, would be too difficult and time-consuming because rich people have lots of lawyers. Poor people don’t have any lawyers, so it makes sense to concentrate on the poor people. And the wealthy and corporate have in the past decades moved to new tax evasion schemes that the IRS has much more difficulty tracking to begin with.

In order to truly begin prosecuting rampant tax fraud among the lawyered class, it will take restoring money to the IRS to be able to staff those more complex cases and, again, Republicans have been blocking that. Republicans are not dumb—or, to clarify, the lobbyists that write Republican-backed bills are not dumb, and have not missed many tricks in their efforts to free America’s wealthy from paying the same tax rates that either their wealthy parents or their poorest gardeners have paid. The result is an upper class that is living fat and happy even through a recession and world-shaking pandemic, an upper class that cannot be dislodged even by calamity, most with financial dealings that look much like Trump’s own.

A non-Republican administration could direct the IRS to divert more attention to partnerships, S corporations, and similar vehicles for tax dodging, but it would be taken as an act of war. The nation’s wealthy would gang up to sabotage IRS efforts by any means necessary, from the individual act of lawyering each case into the ground to new dark money groups aimed at fomenting so-called “populist” declarations against paying anything in taxes at all.

The heart of the problem here is that the American upper class is awash in financial crimes as a way of life. It is expected, and celebrated. It is seen, by the plastic classes that file through Mar-a-Lago, as cleverness. The Occupy movement had them dead to rights, but could not make headway against a government too keen on collaborating with its own saboteurs.

Appeals to decency or patriotism have never worked. Enforcing the laws already on the books, Republicans often say, is the path to ending out-of-control criminality. Imagine tens of thousands of Donald Trumps squealing like stuck pigs at the news that their tax returns are being genuinely probed; imagine a good chunk of those taking Trump’s own path, declaring that if it’s the nation versus his own pocketbook, then it is the nation which must go down.

Russia, it seems, is not the most powerful nation that’s under the thumb of an inherently criminal class.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


  1. The tax codes can’t be enforced by the IRS because they’re too complicated, and it’s been made both too difficult and too time consuming to navigate all the convolutions. Tax code should be simple. Very easily applied and verified. Fraud should be immediately apparent. It would be easy to collect the correct amount of taxes from everyone, if so many hiding places didn’t exist for those who created, and benefit by, them. Let the poor people write the tax laws and the problem of dodging will disappear.

  2. Next time you cast a presidential vote, recall that operational costs for Air Force One are $200K per hour! Compare that (and many other excesses) to your own tax bill before you “pull that lever”. Remember, “Elect a clown, expect a clown circus fire drill!”

  3. We definitely need reforms and restructuring of the laws surrounding our taxes. Trumps not the only cheat, just the most famous. And they need to hang his ass out to dry. For one thing, that gives you precedent to start investigating various violators.

  4. The start of a long journey begins with the first step.
    If i were POTUS, i could implement an amnesty that declares, ‘Come clean now or we’ll come for you’ ! policy.
    For those that own up to IRS fraud NOW, will only pay a fine of say,.. 10% of the fraud plus restitution, no imprisonment.
    For those that don’t declare ASAP, WHEN discovered, will suffer the full brunt of new laws that include compulsory imprisonment with maximum financial penalties, forfeiture of assets. (there’s your IRS funding taken care of)
    Any and ALL corporation or LLC tax offshore shell structures will be audited by newly installed forensic accountants, the burden of proof will be on the defendant. This will include all religious entities.
    Not so hard is it ? NEXT !
    There’s your Gro$$ National debt dwindling down also..



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