IRS Strikes Back

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The news that the IRS is finally working up the gumption to crack down on high-income tax evaders is certainly welcome. After Republicans managed to demonize and castrate the agency all through the 1990s with bogus “scare stories,” tax collectors decide to dedicate their increasingly meager resources on low-income families who squeaked through the system with an few hundred extra bucks from the Earned-Income Tax Credit, and shied away from confronting the high-rollers who could squirrel away millions in offshore shelters and then defend themselves with an army of lawyers. It was, as one might guess, totally senseless and utterly immoral. The thing is, there’s real money to be made from smarter tax enforcement: unpaid taxes in 2001 came to some $353 billion. And most enforcement measures more than pay for themselves. Eventually, when it comes time to close the deficit—and that time will come, like it or not—people can choose: either we crack down on the deadbeats or else raise taxes on everyone else more than we’d otherwise have to. This shouldn’t be a terribly difficult choice.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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