By Doug Porter
National Public Radio broadcast a story this morning on the upcoming tax filing season. In years past it would have been the typical annual “how to” feature timed to coincide with W2’s arriving in mailboxes around the country. But this year it wasn’t.
This year the onset of tax season story was more of a warning. If you expect IRS help with tax questions, expect to wait. And wait. As in “The IRS is predicting it will only be able to answer half of the 100 million calls it expects from taxpayers this year, and those who do get through can expect to wait a half hour to hear a live voice.” In 2010 the IRS answered calls with an average 11 minute wait.
We can thank Republican Congressman Darrel Issa and his cronies for the 17.5% reduction (adjusted for inflation) in the IRS budget since 2010. The US Treasury will be out about $2 billion, thanks to the inability of the government’s tax collectors to conduct audits. That money could have been used to repair bridges, like the one collapsing on an Interstate last night in Cincinnati
From the NPR report:
Republicans who now control Congress and who led the effort to reduce the IRS budget don’t seem too concerned about the agencies woes. It goes back to GOP charges that the agency targeted conservative groups seeking tax exempt status for extra scrutiny.
Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota: “I don’t think that based on the IRS’ record over the last couple of years that there’s a whole lot of sympathy for the complaints that they’re now making about not having enough funding. Obviously they have a job to do, it’s an important job we want to make sure they have the resources to do that job to collect the taxes but wasting resources targeting conservative groups and other things like that is obviously something that we would take great issue with.”
Let’s peel back the lies implicit in the above paragraphs.
- Unable to find any actual evidence that the IRS as an agency was targeting conservative groups, Congressman Issa’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee went with saying there was a “culture of bias” against conservative groups. The reality was, as anybody who’s ever applied for non-profit status (this includes me) would tell you, the IRS threw up barriers on non-profit applications anytime they detected activity related in any way to politics. In Republican administrations, liberal groups had a harder time. And in Democratic administrations conservative groups were challenged. I know of a non-profit whose activities included getting voters to the polls; their status languished for many months and was approved the day after the 2008 election.
- Republicans began cutting the IRS budget in 2010, long before any accusations of political bias were made, as the accompanying chart shows. Add in inflation and the fact that the agency was denied funding for technological improvements detecting fraudulent returns, and you might begin to wonder if there is another agenda in play. (Either “screw the Black guy in White House,” or “We like tax cheats”; take your pick)
So if you have trouble filing your taxes this year, I suggest calling Congressman Darrel Issa’s office and asking them to explain why you can’t get help. The numbers are: 202-225-3906 (DC office) or 760-599-5000 (Vista office).
Barrio Logan Planning Group Coverage Skewed
The first ever Barrio Logan Planning group is meeting this evening and UT-San Diego is on it. Well, ok, not really. They’re on the part of the story they’d like us to hear.
The group includes six business representatives, six residents, two nonprofit representatives and a property owner, plus two nonvoting seats for the Navy and port. But when he named the members in October, Alvarez excluded representatives from the maritime industry saying he did not want the group to end in failure.
Industry representatives objected to being excluded especially since they occupy more than half the community and their workforce outnumbers the residential population by 10 to one. However, the city has no authority over port or Navy land use.
Neither this story nor the the October 17th editorial whining about the City Councilman’s decision to exclude industry reps in the first round of appointments (they can run for seats as they become open, starting in 2016) bothered to mention he also excluded representatives from the environmental groups who have opposed maritime industry attempts to control the planning process in the past.
Full disclosure: SD Free Press editorial board member Brent Beltran is one of the residents appointed to the group.
Why the Planning Process is Important & How to Do It
Being involved in the planning process isn’t particularly glamorous. But it is a fundamental element of the process that could make San Diego a better place to live. This is where the work gets done. And if you have any aspirations of wanting to serve your community, planning groups are a good place to start.
The San Diego Leadership Alliance, Circulate San Diego and other groups are hosting a discussion on how residents of the City of San Diego can serve on their local community planning groups.
Panelists will include:
- Joe LaCava, Chairperson of the Community Planners Committee
- Matt Adams, Chairperson, Navajo Community Planners
- Lara Gates, Community Plan Update Project Manager, City of San Diego Planning Department
- Samantha Ollinger, Member, City Heights Community Planning Group
It will be moderated by Colin Parent, Policy Counsel, Circulate San Diego
- Circulate San Diego
- Bike SD
- San Diego Bicycle Coalition
- Thomas Jefferson School of Law Center for Law and Social Justice
- Young Planners Group of the San Diego Section of the American Planning Association
- Joe LaCava, Chair, Community Planners Committee
- Equinox Center
- San Diego Leadership Alliance
Panelists will share:
- The value they get out of serving on a community planning group,
- Tips for how to get elected to a planning group, and
- Views on the role planning groups play in San Diego’s growth and development.
This event will be held on Wednesday, January 28, 6-7:30pm at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Moot Court Room, (2nd Floor, Room 219), 1155 Island Avenue San Diego, CA 92101. You must RSVP Online (Seats are limited)
350.Org’s High Water Line in Mission Beach
Volunteers with the local chapter of 350.org fanned out in Mission Beach yesterday, using chalk to mark off where predictions of sea level rise fueled by climate change will cause flooding in the coming decades.
They sought public input by getting petition signatures for a strong, enforceable City of San Diego Climate Action Plan.
After New York’s HighWaterLine art project, San Diego’s Mission Beach was one of several communities across the country holding similar events. San Francisco, New York and Miami also used art to address climate change.
Researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography predict a combination of high tides and big storms will cause massive flooding within the next 35 years. That’s why volunteers withSanDiego350 were using chalk along the Mission Boulevard sidewalk to illustrate those threats.
Walking, running, or biking in Mission Beach could one day be threatened by king tides, which cause strong rip currents and lead to flooding in low-lying areas along the beaches.
10News attempted to fact check the group’s estimates and discovered their predictions were indeed possible. I got the distinct impression were looking for a different answer. They also found some hipster dude who complained about the chalk messing up the sidewalk in front of his business. …Talk about your misplaced priorities…
The State of the Union
Many progressives, although they are heartened by recent moves from the Obama administration, think the already-leaked tax proposals from tonight’s State of the Union address are too little too late.
Here’s the half-full glass of water viewpoint by way of Tim Mak in the Daily Beast:
“A Republican refusal to consider taxing the 1 percent and the things they say in the process can be used against them in future elections. He can try to influence a direction for his party and, simultaneously, define an advocacy role for himself in the years ahead,” said Wayne Fields, author of a book on presidential speechwriting, Union of Words: A History of Presidential Eloquence.
And in previous State of the Union addresses, argued Greenberg, President Obama has laid out points of potential compromise—only to find the negotiating window shifting to the right when Republicans made stronger demands.
“Obama has made the mistake a lot over his initial years by opening with a compromise bid, and Republicans would counter with their maximum bid,” he said. “Obama may have finally figured out that it’s better to open with your maximum bid.”
Here’s Laura Clawson at Daily Kos with a taste of what to expect:
President Obama will head to the Capitol Tuesday night for the State of the Union address, and unlike most years, he’s already told us about several of the big policies he’s going to propose.Tax breaks for middle- and low-income families. Free community college. Broadband access. Paid sick leave and family leave. Not only has Obama extensively previewed his major policy proposals, the White House will be making heavy use of social media to continue getting the message out to people who might not sit down and watch the whole State of the Union address.
Obama goes into tonight with an improving economy and rising popularity, and he clearly plans to strike a positive tone on the economy, referring to an American “comeback” as he pushes for policies that would strengthen that comeback.
But rising popularity doesn’t mean he won’t face opposition. Even Politico prefaced a barrage of Republicans complaining with this:
In fact, GOP lawmakers are already complaining what they won’t hear in the president’s speech — or what they think they won’t hear — and dusting off the “Obama had a real chance to reach out today but didn’t” line. It will surely be heavily used in the hours and days following Tuesday’s speech.
I would hope that most people will recognize the “chance to reach out” line as the bullsh*t it really is.
Meanwhile, the GOP should be concerned about damage control arising out of their responses to the State of The Union speech tonight.
From Clawson (different commentary), again:
Republicans will continue to show off their party unity with three different responses to Tuesday evening’s State of the Union address. Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst will deliver the official party response, Florida Rep. Curt Clawson will deliver the tea party response, and Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo will deliver the Spanish response, though he is expected to be in line with Ernst’s response. Last year, Sen. Rand Paul also delivered his own homemade response and posted it to YouTube, but maybe Paul figures that since Clawson voted for him for speaker of the House, his views will be adequately represented.
This should be interesting. The official voice of the GOP will be “one of the most frighteningly right-wing senators in a generation,” and then trying to fill out the right flank will be a guy who looks at high-ranking officials from the State Department and Commerce Department andmakes the mental leap from brown skin and desi names to “they must be representatives of the Indian government.”
On This Day: 1885 – The roller coaster was patented by L.A. Thompson. 1934 – The Nazis adopt the “Act on the Regulation of National Labor,” replacing independently negotiated collective agreements. The act read, in part, “The leader of the plant makes the decisions for the employees and laborers in all matters concerning the enterprise… He is responsible for the well-being of the employees and laborers. [They] owe him faithfulness.” 1982 – Ozzy Osbourne bit the head off of a bat during a concert in Des Moines, IA, and was hospitalized for a series of rabies shots.
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bob dorn says
One of the GOP’s strategies: starve the IRS, Social Security, the EPA and other New Deal and Great Society institutions so that when they begin to fail the GOP can argue again (and again, and again) that we’d all be better off without them and “private industry can do it better.” We can only imagine how much more efficient the Pentagon and Military Intelligence would be if those budgets were cut, because those budgets never get cut.
Philly Joe Swendoza says
Here’s how best to handle your federal taxes. File ASAP, but send a blank return containing only your vital info (name & address, SS#, filing status). Sign & date it & let the IRS figure it out. They will & then send you a bill, which can then be negotiated. In short, be your own tax expert. We have a voluntary tax system, which by law requires filing a return, but not income information.