Sunday, January 08, 2006

A law unto themselves:

The Bush administration has illegally stopped making public detailed tax enforcement data, which has been used to show which kinds of taxpayers get the most and toughest audits, a noted tax researcher says.

Syracuse University Professor Susan B. Long said in papers filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle late last week that since Nov. 1, 2004, the Internal Revenue Service has violated a 1976 court order requiring the release of the data....

Long, who has researched and written about federal tax administration for more than 30 years, used the Freedom of Information Act to win the court order in 1976....

The 1976 court order listed 38 types of IRS reports ... that Long was entitled to receive "promptly" and regularly under the Freedom of Information Act. The court said IRS must continue to make the same statistical data contained in the listed reports available without charge in future years "regardless of the format ... hereafter compiled."

Despite filing regular FOIA requests for the material, the last data Long received arrived Nov. 1, 2004 and covered only the first six months of fiscal year 2004, through March, 2004, she said in an interview.

"They really shut down access," she said....

Yeah -- days before the '04 election. I guess the Bushies assumed that after that they'd either be out of a job or utterly above the law.

Long uses this information to determine, for instance, whether low-income taxpayers get audited more than the rich -- something she said was taking place in 2000, when Bill Clinton was president (a sign she no Democratic partisan). I guess the public isn't entitled to know that kind of thing anymore if our leaders just don't feel like telling us.

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