An absolutely infuriating story from ProPublica yesterday reminds us that the GOP has made taxation fairly painless for the wealthy, and not just in terms of tax cuts. It's true that the very rich -- households with income over a million bucks -- get their taxes audited most frequently by the IRS. But the people whose taxes are SECOND most audited by the IRS are not actually the next rung down on the income ladder. Heck no! As another ProPublica story detailed last year, people making less than $20,000 a year are audited at "twice the rate of taxpayers with income between $200,000 and $500,000." And while GOP budget cuts to the IRS have meant overall audits have dropped, the rich (and merely very well off) have seen a very sharp drop-off in audit rates -- and less intense scrutiny when they do get audited -- while low-income folks have had a much smaller reduction in audits, and are actually facing audits that are far more nitpicky.

You see, congressional Republicans are certain that all poor people are likely criminals , so they've pressured the IRS to crack down on people claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit. Gotta stop all the low-income tax cheats, you know. And in the meantime, only about a third of some types of business income gets reported, but why would the IRS go after businesses? They make jerbs!

Which brings us to this map of the counties where the IRS performs the most audits per capita, based on a recent study published in a journal for tax professionals. Big surprise! It's almost a perfectly drawn map of poverty and of minority populations, too. (There's an interactive version of the map at ProPublica, so you can see how your own county compares to the national average.) The darker, the more audits per 1000 tax filings.

The densest pockets of audits tend to be in counties with lots of poor and minority taxpayers; the most-audited county in the USA, it turns out, is Humphreys County, Mississippi, with 11.8 audits per 1000 filers. That's not because of all the billionaires in the county:

The study estimates that Humphreys, with a median annual household income of just $26,000, is audited at a rate 51 percent higher than Loudoun County, Virginia, which boasts a median income of $130,000, the highest in the country.

The study was done by a former IRS senior economist, Kim M. Bloomquist, who used to work in the agency's research division.

He decided to map the distribution of audits to illustrate the dramatic regional effects of the IRS' emphasis on EITC audits. Because more than a third of all audits are of EITC recipients, the number of audits in each county is largely a reflection of how many taxpayers there claimed the credit, he found.

In counties with the highest audit rates, there were about 11 audits per 1,000 tax returns filed each year, he found, which is more than 40 percent above the national average.

The audit map has quite a bit to say about who the IRS prioritizes for close scrutiny -- and who it doesn't:

The five counties with the highest audit rates are all predominantly African American, rural counties in the Deep South. The audit rate is also very high in South Texas' largely Hispanic counties and in counties with Native American reservations, such as in South Dakota. Primarily poor, white counties, such as those in eastern Kentucky in Appalachia, also have elevated audit rates.

The states with the lowest audit rates tend to be home to middle income, largely white populations: places like New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Minnesota. Generally, the IRS audits taxpayers with household income between $50,000 and $100,000 the least.

Mind you, an IRS spokesperson was very careful to explain to ProPublica, by email, "that tax returns are selected for audit without regard to race or where the taxpayer lives." Totally not the IRS's fault that Republicans have demanded they crack down on the 47 Percent after Fox News said too many poor people have it way too easy, collecting a tax credit they clearly don't deserve, even if Saint Ronald Reagan considered it a nifty anti-poverty measure.

Oh yes, and speaking of taxes, the Washington Post ran a timely opinion piece yesterday arguing that Democrats shouldn't let Donald Trump's ridiculous "total exoneration" rhetoric slow down their efforts to get Trump's tax returns from the IRS, a power the House already has. The Center for American Progress is pushing congressional Dems to use it, for Crom's sake. There are plenty of good reasons, it argues, to demand Trump's taxes, which "the U.S. Treasury Department has no basis for refusing":

  1. To determine if U.S. national security is at risk of being compromised by the president's financial conflicts of interest
  2. To determine if Trump has conflicts of interests bearing on his trade and tariffs policies
  3. To determine whether the president is violating the U.S. Constitution by receiving benefits from foreign countries without Congress' consent
  4. To determine whether he is benefiting from his tax policies despite his many public assertions to the contrary
  5. To determine whether the IRS is adequately auditing the president
  6. To inform the consideration of additional disclosure requirements for candidates and officeholders

House Ways and Means Committee chair Rep. Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts) has been tasked by Nancy Pelosi to get on that request, but the problem is that he's moving a bit slowly, asking all relevant committees to present their best case for the request, with the logic that the request should be on the strongest legal footing for a possible court fight with the White House. Problem is, that could mean Trump's taxes might not be released for years. That's why the Center is trying to push Congress to get on with it already: You wieners have the authority, so would you please just use it please?

Maybe we could start a rumor that Trump's planning on claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit. That might get some attention.

[ProPublica / ProPublica / WaPo / Center for American Progress]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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Once upon a time... about ten years ago, a group of entirely ridiculous men burst onto the scene wearing stupid hats and telling men that wearing stupid hats and telling men that walking up to women in bars and insulting ("negging") them would get them laid. This did not last long, as women also had televisions and computers and were completely aware of these tricks as well, so when some ass came up to us in a bar and said "Hey, nice nails, are they real?" we would laugh and laugh and loudly announce "Oh my god, this guy just tried to neg me! Can you believe that shit? HEY EVERYONE, THIS GUY JUST TRIED TO NEG ME!" and then refer to him as "Mystery" the whole night.

Most of the men who tried that shit only did so a few times before realizing that it wasn't going to work, and thus moved on to other things. Perhaps things that did not involve furry hats and coming off as a huge creep. We may never know, because I would assume that those who tried it are now extremely embarrassed and would never, ever admit to this to us.

Still, there were a few men willing to eat that shit up, as well as some grifters willing to take advantage of that. Said grifters tended to be extremely misogynistic and seemed more like they were teaching men how to be as despised by women as they were than teaching them how to actually be liked by women.

Some of them, like Roosh V, a creepy weirdo who actually does live in his mom's basement, actively encouraged men to rape women who were intoxicated to the point of being obviously unable to consent.

However, even that branch of the PUA tree is wilting away. Many "self-help" style PUA forums like Nextasf and RSDnation are shutting down or have already shut down. In March, Chateau Heartiste, a batshit crazy PUA turned White Nationalist/Alt-Right blog was shut down by Wordpress. This week, rape advocate Roosh V (whom you may recall once called yours truly a "Wonkette typist/clown face, would not bang") announced that he was renouncing his PUA ways and devoting himself to Jesus. He explained to the forum he manages that he would no longer be allowing anyone to discuss premarital "fornication."

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'Baby Geniuses' star Jon Voight took to Twitter early this morning to proclaim his undying love for Donald Trump, probably because there is no one left in his life who will listen to him talk about this, or anything else, in person. In this video rant, Voight encouraged members of the Republican Party, whom he apparently thinks are the only real citizens of the United States, to stand by Donald Trump and "acknowledge the truth" that he is the best President since Abraham Lincoln.

Part ONE:

People of the Republican Party, I know you will agree with me when I say our president has our utmost respect and our love. This job is not easy. For he's battling the left and their absurd words of destruction. I've said this once and I'll say this again. That our nation has been built on the solid ground from our forefathers, and there is a moral code of duty that has been passed on from President Lincoln. I'm here today to acknowledge the truth, and I'm here today to tell you my fellow Americans that our country…

Oh no, not our absurd words of destruction!

Part DEUX:

is stronger, safer, and with more jobs because our President has made his every move correct. Don't be fooled by the political left, because we are the people of this nation that is witnessing triumph. So let us stand with our president. Let us stand up for this truth, that President Trump is the greatest president since President Lincoln.

Does Jon Voight not know there have been... other presidents? Can he name them? Because really, it does not sound like it. Does he also not know that a very big chunk of the Republican Party actually does not care very much for Abraham Lincoln? Namely those defenders of Confederate statues that Trump called "very fine people?" Also, did he intentionally diss their beloved Ronald Reagan?

Who can know? Who can even tell what he is trying to say or why he is trying to say it. He doesn't appear to have tweeted much since 2016, so I'm guessing whoever's job it was to keep him from tanking his career quit. Either that... or after filming the seventh season of Ray Donovan, he found out it's going to be canceled or his character is getting killed off or something and he is now free to be a jackass? I don't know, I haven't watched the show, although my parents are very into it and mad that I haven't watched it. Literally all I know about it is that it has something to do with Boston, because they keep mentioning that to me like it's a selling point.

It seems useless at this point to note that the people who scream their faces off about how bad it is for Hollywood celebs to support liberal causes, and how they should keep their politics to themselves, etc. etc. make a way bigger deal than normal people do whenever a Big Time Hollywood Celebrity like Jon Voight or, uh, Scott Baio, supports their cause. Mostly because they're the only ones who have elected a reality TV star and the star of Bedtime for Bonzo (who by the way, also once practically ruined a perfectly good Bette Davis movie with his bad acting. Which is not to say that Dark Victory is not fantastic and probably the best thing to watch if you want to sob your face off, but he was very bad in it.) to run the country.

But we might as well do that anyway, because it actually never stops being funny.

[Jon Voight Twitter]

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