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  #101  
Old 04-06-2019, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by dasmoocher View Post
For example, Jared Kushner. Who's paying the bill on that 666 5th Avenue property and what do they get in return?
How is that any of our business?
  #102  
Old 04-06-2019, 10:42 PM
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It occurs to me that selling privileged information for personal gain could possibly be against the law. More or less so than lying on a national security check I cannot say.
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  #103  
Old 04-06-2019, 10:47 PM
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How is that any of our business?
Well, in the first place, the whole issue of Trump's tax records is our business because President Trump made it our business, by declaring that he would release his tax returns. He stated that he would abide by a protocol that all other Presidents in the past several decades have followed, and he shouldn't renege on that commitment.

In the second place, the general principle of Presidents disclosing their tax returns is a good one for the sake of political transparency, and has exposed irregularities in the past (in tax returns of Nixon and the Clintons, for example).

If somebody doesn't want their personal finances and financial interests to be the business of the American people, then they are free not to run for the office of President of the nation of the American people. But if they expect us to entrust the leadership of our nation to them, then they should be prepared to disclose to us whom they're in bed with financially and what financial influences they're subject to.
  #104  
Old 04-06-2019, 11:00 PM
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How is that any of our business?


Stop acting like this is an extraordinary request. Having the president show the American people their taxes has been a basic requirement for quite some time. That the White House is fighting tooth and nail to avoid this most basic of requirements means that it is safe to assume that there is reason that Congress deserves a look. To paraphrase Nixon, the American people deserve to know if the president is a crook.
  #105  
Old 04-07-2019, 06:57 AM
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Well, in the first place, the whole issue of Trump's tax records is our business because President Trump made it our business, by declaring that he would release his tax returns. He stated that he would abide by a protocol that all other Presidents in the past several decades have followed, and he shouldn't renege on that commitment.

In the second place, the general principle of Presidents disclosing their tax returns is a good one for the sake of political transparency, and has exposed irregularities in the past (in tax returns of Nixon and the Clintons, for example).

If somebody doesn't want their personal finances and financial interests to be the business of the American people, then they are free not to run for the office of President of the nation of the American people. But if they expect us to entrust the leadership of our nation to them, then they should be prepared to disclose to us whom they're in bed with financially and what financial influences they're subject to.
I'm torn because I want Trump out by any legal means and Republicans play filthy all the time. But none of what you mentioned is justification for Congress demanding the returns. There should be some justification given.

Neal gave a couple of reasons in an interview a couple of days ago:

“This was not motivated by malevolence,” he said. “Our intent is to test a federal law that has been on the books since 1924 and to apply the full tenor of that law to the request that we've made and to make sure that that law under again the magnifying glass stands up.”

"Oversight responsibility for legislative function dates at least to Magna Carta. It is part of the Jeffersonian notion of how the legislative branch might oversee the executive branch,” Neal said. “Congress is mentioned as the first branch of government for that very purpose.”

Oversight, sure. But it would have been helpful if he had stated some reason other than "because we can," instead, he almost went the other way:

"We did not link this to the Mueller report. We did not link this to some nefarious undertaking. Instead I think we took a very measured position, as I insisted that we would, from day one."

https://www.wgbh.org/news/national-n...by-malevolence

Just like Barr's opinion of whether there was criminal obstruction is irrelevant because Trump wouldn't have been charged anyway, Trump's "inclination" not to release his returns is irrelevant; it's gonna be between Congress and the IRS commissioner.
  #106  
Old 04-07-2019, 07:28 AM
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Imagine this scenario. You have a tradition in your house that all the kids come in and show their report cards. It's been that way for a while. You've never told them they have to do it, but they do it anyways.

But, one day, it's report card day, and little Timmy doesn't show his report card.

Do you not assume that Timmy is trying to hide something?

Now throw in that you know Timmy has been hanging around with a lot of sketchy kids at school, who have gotten in trouble for various things, even though Timmy has kept his nose clean. Do you not start to suspect he's involved, too? Heck, maybe seeing the classes he's failing will lead you to go talk to that teacher and find out some things Timmy has been hiding from you.

The President is not only not above the law, but also just not above the way reality works. When you act suspicious, people suspect you.

(Note, all "you"s in this post are general.)
  #107  
Old 04-07-2019, 07:32 AM
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...it's gonna be between Congress and the IRS commissioner.
Who BTW has said he doesn't think thump needs to release the returns. Round and round the mulberry bush...
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  #108  
Old 04-07-2019, 07:35 AM
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No, he's said that it would be unwise for Trump to voluntarily release the returns. Advice which, amazingly, Trump seems to be taking.
  #109  
Old 04-07-2019, 08:19 AM
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AOC elicited some reasons for the request during her brief questioning of Michael Cohen.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVuVSk_IUAc
  #110  
Old 04-07-2019, 08:34 AM
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How is that any of our business?
Have you been reading the reports about Kushner being rejected for a security clearance until his father in law intervened?

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Originally Posted by UnwittingAmericans View Post
m There should be some justification given...

Oversight, sure. But it would have been helpful if he had stated some reason other than "because we can," instead, he almost went the other way:
If you google the letter requesting the returns and read it, there’s a much fuller explanation of Neal’s reasons than what seems to be address in the interview. The letter literally has a “Frequently Asked Questions” section to it. Now you may disagree with those reasons, sure, but the explanations of the reasons for the letter are longer than the letter itself.
  #111  
Old 04-07-2019, 08:46 AM
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How is that any of our business?
You're right to question this. How indeed is it any of our business that a debt-ridden building (the infamous 666 Fifth Avenue building) that threatened to send the Kushner real estate empire into bankruptcy, was bought out by a company (thus saving the Kushners' collective asses) that frequently makes big real estate purchases through joint partnerships with countries such as Qatar and Dubai, an area of the world where Kushner has been actively running U.S. foreign policy in a rather interesting way, to say the least.

The citizens of the United States of America have no business investigating this to assure ourselves that there's no quid pro quo going on here. Why would we?
  #112  
Old 04-07-2019, 09:00 AM
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Have you been reading the reports about Kushner being rejected for a security clearance until his father in law intervened?


If you google the letter requesting the returns and read it, there’s a much fuller explanation of Neal’s reasons than what seems to be address in the interview. The letter literally has a “Frequently Asked Questions” section to it. Now you may disagree with those reasons, sure, but the explanations of the reasons for the letter are longer than the letter itself.
I just read the letter and Neal's statement. I don't see a FAQ in the letter and I couldn't find one on the Ways and Means Committee website, unless you are talking about the bullet points in the letter itself.

In any case, after reading those things, what they are doing is citing a need to find out whether the IRS is properly auditing the returns of presidents and vice presidents as per its own policy. That's a fairly thin reed, but OK.
  #113  
Old 04-07-2019, 09:05 AM
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Who BTW has said he doesn't think thump needs to release the returns. Round and round the mulberry bush...
Which is fine with me. I want a fucking showdown with a Supreme Court ruling in hand. Mueller blew the chance to have one with Trump. Maybe Neal can get one with the IRS commissioner. This shit needs to get resolved.
  #114  
Old 04-07-2019, 10:15 AM
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You're right to question this. How indeed is it any of our business that a debt-ridden building (the infamous 666 Fifth Avenue building) that threatened to send the Kushner real estate empire into bankruptcy, was bought out by a company (thus saving the Kushners' collective asses) that frequently makes big real estate purchases through joint partnerships with countries such as Qatar and Dubai, an area of the world where Kushner has been actively running U.S. foreign policy in a rather interesting way, to say the least.

The citizens of the United States of America have no business investigating this to assure ourselves that there's no quid pro quo going on here. Why would we?
Do you think Kushner’s finances will be part of Trump’s returns?
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  #115  
Old 04-07-2019, 10:40 AM
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Do you think Kushner’s finances will be part of Trump’s returns?
Good thing that the law allows Congress to look at those too.

For all the "concern" about setting precedent, I for one am fine with setting the precedent that the president and all of his close advisors have a requirement for 100% transparency with their finances.
  #116  
Old 04-07-2019, 10:49 AM
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Good thing that the law allows Congress to look at those too.

For all the "concern" about setting precedent, I for one am fine with setting the precedent that the president and all of his close advisors have a requirement for 100% transparency with their finances.
If there is evidence or suspicion of a crime, we have a different branch of government specifically designed for investigation.
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  #117  
Old 04-07-2019, 10:53 AM
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Except that that branch of government is under the Executive, and therefore is poorly equipped to exercise oversight over the President and those closest to him.
  #118  
Old 04-07-2019, 11:41 AM
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If there is evidence or suspicion of a crime, we have a different branch of government specifically designed for investigation.
And we have a law on the books for Congress to review as well.
  #119  
Old 04-07-2019, 12:18 PM
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To be clear - the chairmen of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee can request the tax returns of any American, at any time, for any reason? So Chuck Grassley could just say, "I feel like having a peek at Jussie Smollett's tax returns - fork them over"?

Hmm.

As I have mentioned, everyone might want to keep in mind that genies are notoriously hard to get back into bottles.

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Yep, which is what Dave Camp (R) should have kept in mind when he invoked the same rule while he was head of the committee in 2014. Hmm.
  #120  
Old 04-07-2019, 12:30 PM
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Yep, which is what Dave Camp (R) should have kept in mind when he invoked the same rule while he was head of the committee in 2014. Hmm.
Camp might even have broken the law by making the information public.

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Karl Rove and Miss America have something in common: Organizations affiliated with each of them had their confidential tax information made public last month by the House Ways and Means Committee.
What's more, there's probably nothing those groups -- or more than a dozen others in the same boat -- can do about it.
Ways and Means staff maintain that the committee acted within its rights when it posted the organizations' names and details online. But several practitioners and scholars who spoke with Tax Analysts were skeptical of those assertions. Some said the committee may have broken the law.
  #121  
Old 04-07-2019, 03:10 PM
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I just read the letter and Neal's statement. I don't see a FAQ in the letter and I couldn't find one on the Ways and Means Committee website, unless you are talking about the bullet points in the letter itself.
Well, my error! When I read the letter, this FAQ was attached as though it was one document: link.

I was totally puzzled why Neal would send a letter and a FAQ, but now I see some news organization combined them for their readers (I can't remember which website I read it on).

Last edited by Ravenman; 04-07-2019 at 03:11 PM.
  #122  
Old 04-07-2019, 03:18 PM
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If there is evidence or suspicion of a crime, we have a different branch of government specifically designed for investigation.
Sure didn't stop Congress from investigating buttery males like Ben Ghazi.
  #123  
Old 04-07-2019, 03:24 PM
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From the AP: Chief of staff says Dems will ‘never’ see Trump tax returns
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Democrats will “never” see President Donald Trump’s tax returns, said White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney on Sunday, as a new front opened in the confrontation between the administration and Congress.

Mulvaney accused Democrats of engaging in a “political stunt” and wanting “attention” after the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Richard Neal, asked the IRS to provide six years of Trump’s personal tax returns and the returns for some of his businesses.

“That is not going to happen and they know it,” Mulvaney told “Fox News Sunday.” Asked whether he believe Democrats would ever view the president’s returns, Mulvaney replied: “Oh no, never. Nor should they.”
Showdown time!
  #124  
Old 04-07-2019, 03:50 PM
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Here's an angle: If the head of the IRS refuses to turn over these documents as legally required, that'd be grounds to impeach him. And his successor, if whoever that is tries the same thing.
  #125  
Old 04-07-2019, 03:52 PM
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Here's an angle: If the head of the IRS refuses to turn over these documents as legally required, that'd be grounds to impeach him. And his successor, if whoever that is tries the same thing.
The difference between "grounds to impeach him" and "will impeach him" approaches infinity, y'know.
  #126  
Old 04-07-2019, 04:03 PM
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Here's an angle: If the head of the IRS refuses to turn over these documents as legally required, that'd be grounds to impeach him. And his successor, if whoever that is tries the same thing.
It's a law. It's simply the law. If the IRS refuses, then whoever makes that call from the IRS should be arrested.

Last edited by bobot; 04-07-2019 at 04:03 PM.
  #127  
Old 04-07-2019, 04:16 PM
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Here's an angle: If the head of the IRS refuses to turn over these documents as legally required, that'd be grounds to impeach him. And his successor, if whoever that is tries the same thing.
Yes. As Matthew Miller observed today on Twitter:

Quote:
Matthew Miller‏Verified account @matthewamiller 7h7 hours ago

The worst part about this is how the WH isn’t even pretending the IRS will make a decision on its own, free from political interference. A total breakdown in the rule of law.
AxiosVerified account @axios
Acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney said on Fox News that Democrats will "never" get Trump's tax returns. https://www.axios.com/mick-mulvaney-trump-
https://twitter.com/matthewamiller/s...89850455568385

Mulvaney is proudly asserting that the IRS head is Trump's creature, and that Trump is above the law. There is no good reason for Congress to simply let that pass.
  #128  
Old 04-07-2019, 04:16 PM
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It's a law. It's simply the law. If the IRS refuses, then whoever makes that call from the IRS should be arrested.
Yeah, at some point I could see a judge just holding someone in contempt if the judge rules that the law is as simple as it reads.
  #129  
Old 04-07-2019, 04:31 PM
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I read the law in question a while ago. I think I may have encountered it during a completely unrelated tax research project instead of looking for it specifically, but that's not too relevant. It was quite clear that the two Chairmen of the committees in each chamber of Congress have the right to request absolutely anyone's tax return. However, after doing so they must not disclose any information in it to the general public.

However , I think people in general are overly optimistic about the kinds of things that are found on an actual tax return. You don't report to the IRS every single detail about what's on your returns - you provide summaries and occasionally there are times you need to file required statements when the amount of space on the forms is too small to fit what's required by the form, but in general, the returns are only the very broadest of strokes.

There is a little bit of detail you will get, and that's who their employers are and what pass-through entities they are receiving income from. That all shows up on the return, associated with a federal taxpayer number (TIN/EIN, like an SSN), but seeing them there isn't going to tell you the nature of their business (besides what you can tell from how the K-1 income is divvied up among the various types of income). Of course, if they can subsequently request that business's return they can get more information about them, such as the other partners, but it still won't tell you anything much about the details of the business. If they have real estate rentals they'll tell you what addresses they have, but for other kinds of business transactions, there is no such requirement to report the sources of income and the identities of those to whom expenses were paid. A total interest expense will be reported, but no details of who the interest is paid to. The balance sheet will list how much debt they have, but not to whom it is owed. Although you are supposed to report debt from owners of the business separately, that doesn't tell you which owner holds that debt.

I'm not sure what people expect to find on Trump's tax returns other than that he simply isn't nearly as wealthy as he leads people to believe. That's what Trump is really hiding, because if he has extra-legal business associations, it would be relatively simple to just not report them on his tax return, or to report what their legal facade was (ie, what was reported to the IRS). Without an audit of the return, you won't have any idea whether any of the information is actually true with the exception of those few things reported to the IRS like W-2s and K-1s, and even for those, the documents may be based on false information and entirely made up and as long as it's reported consistently the IRS won't notice unless they audit everyone involved.

Similarly, you won't get any information on which charities were donated to. You might type all the information into Turbo Tax and it might generate a detail report that might be included with your return, but that doesn't mean that in general people are required to report each and every donation. The vast majority of my firm's clients provide us a list of contributions already added up, we go over the list to ensure they are all legitimate charities because some people like to include political donations on the list, and if everything's good, we just type the bottom line number into the software. That's all the IRS sees.

And it's like that for pretty much every other line as well. "Other expenses" on business returns will be broken out into types, but every individual expense won't be listed. When people hear about how long some firm's tax returns are, and there are some doozies in our office, it's because they have a huge number of different K-1s each with several pages of detail, most of which is blank, or it's because they have a huge number of properties and can only put 3 on each page plus they may need extra space to itemize all the "other expenses" by type, or it's because they have a large number of transactions that require reporting because they are a day-trader, or any number of other reasons, but these don't tell you what entities the businesses were giving money to, only the sources of their income, and then only vaguely.

Last edited by glowacks; 04-07-2019 at 04:32 PM.
  #130  
Old 04-07-2019, 05:25 PM
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What I find funny is the GOP claiming that a law can't be used for political purposes. Or that it sets a bad precedent. Somehow that did not matter when it came to ignoring Garland for the supreme court.
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Old 04-07-2019, 05:39 PM
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What I find funny is the GOP claiming that a law can't be used for political purposes. Or that it sets a bad precedent. Somehow that did not matter when it came to ignoring Garland for the supreme court.
Once an entity learns it will pay NO price for hypocrisy, it will employ hypocrisy continuously and without ceasing.
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Old 04-07-2019, 05:55 PM
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What I find funny is the GOP claiming that a law can't be used for political purposes. Or that it sets a bad precedent. Somehow that did not matter when it came to ignoring Garland for the supreme court.
IOWRDI*







*It's okay when Republicans do it.
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  #133  
Old 04-07-2019, 05:58 PM
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How would you be able figure out who leaked it?
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Old 04-07-2019, 05:59 PM
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Exactly!#
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  #135  
Old 04-07-2019, 06:00 PM
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What I find funny is the GOP claiming that a law can't be used for political purposes. Or that it sets a bad precedent. Somehow that did not matter when it came to ignoring Garland for the supreme court.
Or when they used the exact same law five years ago to get tax returns, for blatantly political purposes.
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Old 04-07-2019, 08:05 PM
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I want a fucking showdown with a Supreme Court ruling in hand.
IANAL, but while it seems on the face of the rule it is clear cut the IRS *shall* provide them to particular members of Congress... what makes people so sure that SCOTUS will take that side? Sure, the usual suspects absolutely, but Thomas? Kavanaugh? Gorsuch? They're partisan hacks. Will they be able to actually do it? Or do we just depend on *only* Roberts being able to read and/or care about legacies and precedent? If this goes to SCOTUS, anything short of a 9-0 (or x-0 if someone was out sick) is very, very troubling.

And if ordered by SCOTUS, I don't know if I have enough faith in our system anymore that the appropriate person at the IRS would comply. It seems sucking up to Trump is easier than than following norms and traditions and laws. How do you make the IRS comply? Contempt? Can that be pardoned? Do you shut off their funding? What can one party who controls only one branch do when other government departments don't look to them as having power?
  #137  
Old 04-07-2019, 08:38 PM
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https://www.propublica.org/article/u...-wealth-audits


An interesting article about how the elite team of auditors put together by the IRS to tackle the biggest tax cheats has been systematically outgunned and destroyed by Republicans.

Sure, there’s no chance that Trump is hiding something. Zeeeero. Fake news.
  #138  
Old 04-07-2019, 08:46 PM
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I used to think an announcement on the scale of "Reefer Is Legal" would be big news. Now I'm waiting for Republicans to declare that laws don't mean shit, whatever they are, if you don't like them. Thanks Republicans, for establishing anarchy. I sure hope you don't regret it.
  #139  
Old 04-07-2019, 10:29 PM
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https://www.propublica.org/article/u...-wealth-audits


An interesting article about how the elite team of auditors put together by the IRS to tackle the biggest tax cheats has been systematically outgunned and destroyed by Republicans.

Sure, there’s no chance that Trump is hiding something. Zeeeero. Fake news.
From the article:

Quote:
His experience was telling. The IRS’ new approach to taking on the superwealthy has been stymied. The wealthy’s lobbyists immediately pushed to defang the new team. And soon after the group was formed, Republicans in Congress began slashing the agency’s budget. As a result, the team didn’t receive the resources it was promised. Thousands of IRS employees left from every corner of the agency, especially ones with expertise in complex audits, the kinds of specialists the agency hoped would staff the new elite unit. The agency had planned to assign 242 examiners to the group by 2012, according to a report by the IRS’ inspector general. But by 2014, it had only 96 auditors. By last year, the number had fallen to 58.
And this is why I'm the Chicken Little of SDMB - because we're witnessing the transformation of American democracy to American oligarchy. This is exactly how oligarchies, plutocracies, and kleptocracies behave. This is even how the United States operated at many levels of government from the late 1800s until 1930. The Roaring 20s was a time of rampant wealth inequality, and in turn, rampant corruption, with Republicans of the day stuffing their stockings with tax dollars and using federal office as their own piggy banks. What's more, just like then, most Americans were simply not concerned enough to do anything to stop them - because they were employed and in their view, as long as they could believe in the American pipe dream, then nobody had to be held accountable. That changed, but only in 1932, after nearly 4 years of extreme financial hardship. That is where we are headed, and I doubt anything can stop it from happening.
  #140  
Old 04-08-2019, 02:04 AM
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Can we amend Mulvaney's name on to the request?
  #141  
Old 04-08-2019, 07:20 AM
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I wonder how safe the Commissioner's job is? Because if he were a Supreme Court justice, someone crowing that he is a political hack in the President's pocket would be a surefire way to rule against him just to establish his independence.
  #142  
Old 04-08-2019, 11:14 AM
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I just thought of another important reason congress needs to look over Trumps returns as part of its oversight duty. According to Trump, they are under Audit. Which means that members of the IRS are looking them over to see if they were done legitimately. But in this negotiation over the release it is clear that Mulvaney expects the IRS to do as its told. One might question whether this do as your told would extend to granting Trump a complete pass on any current taxes; write him refunds for all taxes paid in the last X number of years; and also, just because he's that petty, issue him a $6,557 earned income tax credit.

It makes sense to have a second pair of eyes, who aren't in danger of being fired if they come up with the "wrong" answer, look over his returns for accuracy.
  #143  
Old 04-08-2019, 02:30 PM
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I thought the law said that the treasury secretary was the one responsible for turning over the information, not the IRS commissioner. Do I have that wrong?
  #144  
Old 04-08-2019, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
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I thought the law said that the treasury secretary was the one responsible for turning over the information, not the IRS commissioner. Do I have that wrong?
That's my understanding as well, so the onus would be on him for whatever penalty would be for refusal to comply- contempt of Congress?
  #145  
Old 04-08-2019, 03:35 PM
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That's my understanding as well, so the onus would be on him for whatever penalty would be for refusal to comply- contempt of Congress?
THIS Congress?? R-i-i-i-ght.
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  #146  
Old 04-08-2019, 05:37 PM
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Another interesting possibility, although I have no way of measuring the probability of it happening, is the 6103 (f) (5) subsection, which allows a whistleblower to release it to the requester under certain circumstances.
  #147  
Old 04-08-2019, 09:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bone View Post
I thought the law said that the treasury secretary was the one responsible for turning over the information, not the IRS commissioner. Do I have that wrong?
Quote:
Originally Posted by BobLibDem View Post
That's my understanding as well, so the onus would be on him for whatever penalty would be for refusal to comply- contempt of Congress?
Well, well, welly-welly well.

Turns out you both might be right, but with a serious catch.

According to former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, there is a provision that places the entire matter independently in the hands of the IRS Commissioner intended to preserve independence of the IRS, and that if Mnuchin wants to take back that power, he must notify the IRS Commissioner and Congress in writing as soon as possible. Summers went so far as to say that if Mnuchin makes the decision to withhold the returns, is is "probably illegal."

Last edited by Aspenglow; 04-08-2019 at 09:38 PM.
  #148  
Old 04-08-2019, 09:42 PM
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I was thinking more along the lines of, making the secretary the responsible party, then firing the secretary and not filling it. Then no one is responsible.
  #149  
Old 04-08-2019, 09:47 PM
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Nothing will surprise me. The only thing that won't surprise me is that it will be illegal.
  #150  
Old 04-08-2019, 10:45 PM
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We could claim it was a sin, but that would be up to the Acting God Almighty.
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