Michael Mirsky

Biden to Pull Nominee Who Wanted $200 Gun Tax

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Posted by Isabelle Morales, Michael Mirsky on Thursday, September 9th, 2021, 10:21 AM PERMALINK

President Biden will pull his $200-gun-tax-supporting ATF nominee David Chipman, as reported by the Washington Post.

Chipman supported the Biden-endorsed $200 gun tax and a ban on future sales of AR-15s and many semiautomatic firearms (one round fired per trigger pull for those in the media who don't know). Under the policy, even such firearms in private possession would need to be sold to the government or the owner would have to submit a $200 tax per gun and per magazine, along with fingerprints, a photograph, and an invasive multi-page application.

This tax is a violation of Biden's pledge against any tax increase on anyone making less than $400,000 a year.

Chipman, nominated by Biden on April 7, confirmed these positions during a Senate hearing:

"I prefer a system where the AR-15 and other assault weapons are regulated under the National Firearms Act."

Chipman also told the House Judiciary Committee on Sept. 25, 2019:

“One option would be to require the registration of all existing assault weapons in civilian hands under the National Firearms Act, while banning the future manufacture and sale of these firearms."

As was detailed on Biden’s campaign website:

Biden will also institute a program to buy back weapons of war currently on our streets. This will give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act.

This triggers the $200 tax.

The Biden campaign site also stated:

As president, Biden will pursue legislation to regulate possession of existing assault weapons under the National Firearms Act.

Given there are nearly 18 million AR-15s privately owned in the United States, gun owners could potentially be forced to pay a collective $3.6 billion in taxes. This figure doesn’t even include other firearms the left considers “assault weapons” and the additional magazines many gun owners would have to register.

Working families would find themselves incapable of paying for the ability to exercise a constitutional right.

Under the Biden policy, any magazine that holds more than 10 rounds is a “high capacity” magazine. If a household owns two rifles and two magazines, they would be forced to pay a Biden gun tax of $800 total just to keep what they currently own.

Letter to New Jersey Congressional Delegation Shows Breadth of Opposition to Biden Tax Hikes

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Tuesday, August 31st, 2021, 4:00 PM PERMALINK

A broad coalition of New Jersey business groups including the African American Chamber of Commerce and the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce wrote a letter to the New Jersey Congressional delegation voicing opposition to President Biden's proposed tax increases.

The letter, signed by 96 groups, laid out the economic pitfalls of raising the corporate tax rate and taxation of Global Intangible Low-Tax Income (GILTI). 

As noted in the letter:

New Jersey already has the highest state corporate tax in the nation, and the contemplated federal increase would be additionally destructive to New Jersey’s economy, subjecting our corporations to among the highest tax rates in the world.

Similarly, this increase in the corporate rate will make New Jersey businesses uncompetitive with the rest of the world:

New Jersey’s combined rate, with the discussed federal increase to 25%, would be 33.6%. The worldwide average corporate tax rate is estimated at about 24%, so New Jersey could surpass that by about 40%.

The coalition also voiced their concerns over the proposed increase in the taxation of GILTI:

A GILTI increase will push multi-national businesses to leave New Jersey and seek out states with lower GILTI rates, because we are already a GILTI outlier in how harshly we treat it at the state level.

A less competitive corporate tax rate would exacerbate substantial affordability issues faced by New Jersey residents, including:

Having the highest property taxes in the nation, some of the highest personal income tax rates and the general high cost of living and doing business.

If these tax increases go into effect, it would be detrimental to the investments that New Jersey businesses so badly need: 

Spending on innovation and infrastructure would be curtailed, and needed advancements in broadband, R&D and manufacturing capital would be stymied.

The letter concludes with a plea to the administration to consider the consequences of their near-sighted actions:

New Jersey businesses are at a critical juncture as we attempt to survive and recover from the impacts of COVID-19, and we ask you to help move our economy in the right direction – the opposite of this disastrous tax increase proposal.  

A link to the full letter can be found here

[See also: Biden Tax Hikes Largest Since 1968]

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IRS Agents Accidentally Discharged Guns More Often than They Intentionally Fired Them

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Thursday, August 5th, 2021, 3:02 PM PERMALINK

Inspector General found that “Special agents not properly trained in the use of firearms could endanger the public, as well as their fellow special agents, and expose the IRS to possible litigation over injuries or damages”

President Biden's push to increase the size and power of the IRS has significant criminal justice ramifications. The agency has a long and poor track record of misusing service weapons and ensuring agents receive the required firearms training. This failure to follow basic procedures puts American lives and property in danger. 

According to a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), special agents at the IRS Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) accidentally fired their weapons more often than they intentionally fired them: 

“According to documentation provided by all 26 CI field offices, the NCITA, and the TIGTA OI, there were a total of eight firearm discharges classified as intentional use of force incidents and 11 discharges classified as accidental during FYs 2009 through 2011.”

Additionally, the audit found that that some special agents did not meet all of the firearms training or qualification requirements:

“Field office management did not always take consistent and appropriate actions when a special agent failed to meet the requirements because the guidance is vague. In addition, there is no national-level review of firearms training records to ensure that all special agents meet the qualification requirements.”

This lackadaisical approach to firearm safety has led to easily preventable accidents. The Inspector General cryptically references accidental discharges that caused "property damage or personal injury":

“In three of the four accidental discharges that were not reported, the accidental discharges may have resulted in property damage or personal injury.”

The details of these incidents are for some reason redacted in the report: 

As the agents are authorized to carry weapons, they must meet certain firearms training and qualification standards. 

In order to carry or use an IRS-owned weapon, agents must: engage in handgun firing training at least once each quarter, shoot at least the minimum of 75 percentage points on the firearms qualifying test using the issued handgun during two nonconsecutive quarters, participate in biannual firearms building entry exercises, participate in an annual briefing on firearms safety and security policies and CI’s directives and procedures regarding the safe handling and storage of firearms, and participate in a briefing each quarter regarding the policy of discharging a firearm at a moving vehicle. 

CI’s National Criminal Investigation Training Academy (NCITA) is responsible for implementing the formalized firearms training and qualification program nationwide. This includes developing the firearm qualification requirements they are expected to meet and the training special agents will undergo. Despite these requirements, CI agents have regularly failed to stay up to date on training or report incidents, endangering the taxpayers they are supposed to protect. 

Insufficient procedures for special agents who do not meet firearms qualification requirements

TIGTA found 24 special agents who did not meet the requirement to qualify with the weapon concealed and 48 special agents who did not qualify while wearing warrant service apparel. In all, 13 special agents did not meet both those requirements, while nine of the 13 also did not meet the biannual standard requirement. Making matters worse, the agency failed to secure the firearms of those who did not meet their requirements:

“controls did not ensure that CI personnel properly secured firearms when special agents failed to meet the biannual standard qualification requirement. CI was only able to provide evidence that firearms were surrendered in nine of the 27 instances when special agents did not qualify. The Criminal Investigation Management Information System was only updated to reflect the custody change in four of those nine instances.”

The agency did not keep track of special agents on temporary assignment to another field office:

"In addition, controls did not ensure that special agents on temporary assignment to another field office met the firearm qualification requirements."

The report also found that:

"controls did not ensure that CI personnel properly secured firearms when special agents 
failed to meet the biannual standard qualification requirement. CI was only able to provide evidence that firearms were surrendered in nine of the 27 instances when special agents did not qualify."

Ultimately, TIGTA's analysis of the qualification process led to some damning conclusions:

"Considering the gravity of carrying and using a firearm, there should be no margin for error in the firearms training and certification program. By not having effective procedures to ensure special agents are qualified to carry and use a firearm when needed, CI risks endangering other special agents and the public. In addition, the IRS could be held liable for injuries or damage resulting from special agents using a firearm who have not met the required qualifications."

Investigations are put at risk when special agents do not meet firearms training requirements

Despite the importance of firearm training, TIGTA could not always determine if offices conducted training:

"we could not always determine if the field offices conducted the required training or if all special agents participated in the necessary training because field office supporting documentation varied among the locations. For example, two locations did not always document that they conducted training or which special agents attended. This lack of documentation was the main reason we could only verify that 78 (13.1 percent) of the 597 special agents in our judgmental sample met all of their training requirements during FY 2011."

In addition, the Inspector General noted that "there were numerous unexplained absences" that led to firearms training not being conducted. 

Special agents are required to surrender their weapons when they fail to participate in this training, however this often does not happen:

"However, there is currently little consequence for special agents who fail to meet the training requirements listed on the checklist. The responses of field office management and the UFCs from the four field offices varied as to the actions taken after a special agent missed such training. The responses included:

  • The UFC will try to schedule makeup training, but the special agent needs to at least qualify to keep the firearm.
  • Management will speak to the special agent personally if there is a pattern of unexcused absences.
  • Depending on the circumstances, the special agent may have to surrender the firearm if management concludes that the reason for missing the training was not sufficient.
  • Management will discuss the circumstances with the supervisory special agent and emphasize the importance of training attendance. However, missed training would not result in the surrender of the firearm."

These lapses by the IRS-CI could torpedo their ability to effectively try cases:

"Court decisions in the past have held law enforcement entities liable because their law enforcement agents did not have training that reflected the environment that they would likely encounter, such as training involving moving targets and low-light conditions. Other court decisions underscored the importance of properly documenting firearms training. One decision dismissed the claims against a law enforcement entity that maintained thorough records that showed the law enforcement personnel had been trained. Another decision upheld a jury’s conclusion that undocumented police training did not constitute adequate training."

The IRS-CI regularly failed to ensure their agents met firearms training and qualification requirements. This failure could have grave consequences for the public. As noted in the report:

"If there is insufficient oversight, special agents in possession of firearms who are not properly trained and qualified could endanger other special agents and the public."

Discharge incidents often went unreported

CI management is required to be notified when a special agent discharges their weapon. CI must report all accidental discharge incidents externally to the TIGTA OI and internally to the NCITA and the Director of Field Operations. Despite these directives, CI did not always properly disclose accidental discharges:

“we found that four accidental discharges were not properly reported. This included two that were not reported to both to the TIGTA OI and the NCITA, one that was not reported to the TIGTA OI, and one that was not reported internally to the NCITA.”

These cases were not reported as a result of CI’s failure to ensure that proper actions were taken after an accidental discharge and conflicting or unclear reporting information.

Agents did not undergo remedial training after discharges due to special agent negligence 

Compounding their mistakes, CI agents did not always provide remedial training when an accidental discharge occurred. Even when they did undergo training, the standards remained wildly inconsistent. The report found that:

“two of the four use of force coordinators stated that they may require the special agent to participate in some type of remedial training, one stated that the special agent would be counseled, and one stated that there would be no additional training required."

Given the history the IRS has of misusing its service weapons, the Biden proposal to give the agency even more power and money is alarming to law-abiding taxpayers.

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IRS Caught Storing Critical Evidence in Break Rooms

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Monday, August 2nd, 2021, 1:53 PM PERMALINK

Inspector General found that "some sites had evidence placed in hallways, stacked outside cubicles, and in break rooms."

President Biden's push to increase the size and power of the IRS has significant criminal justice ramifications. The agency has a long and poor track record of handling seized evidence. This habit does not serve the public well.

The IRS Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) was repeatedly found to leave critical evidence sitting around in break rooms, hallways and stacked outside cubicles, according to a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). In addition, the report found that CI offices did not maintain an Evidence Access Control Log to record access to areas where evidence is stored:

During our walkthroughs at the CI offices, we observed that some sites had evidence placed in hallways, stacked outside cubicles, and in break rooms.  In addition, seven of the nine offices did not keep grand jury material in a separate, secure area.  The grand jury material was intermingled with non-grand jury evidence and other case file information.

The agency's careless approach to evidence storage has grave ramifications, as noted by the Inspector General:

In order for a seized item to be admissible as evidence, it is necessary to prove that the item is in the same condition as when it was seized.  If evidence is not stored properly, evidence may have been inappropriately disclosed, lost, tampered with, or stolen.  In addition, the chain of custody could be called into question, which could result in the item being deemed inadmissible in court.

The report suggests the IRS is an outlier in terms of its sloppy handling of evidence, compared to other federal law enforcement agencies:

In addition, we interviewed representatives from two other Federal law enforcement agencies to gain an understanding of how they maintained their chain of custody.  It was apparent from these interviews that both Federal agencies have an extensive chain of custody process.  For example, each agency limits access to the locked evidence room, which is maintained by an evidence custodian.  If evidence needs to be removed from the room, an agent must gain access through the evidence custodian and a record of that access is maintained.  This process helps ensure that evidence does not become lost or misplaced and helps keep the chain of custody from being broken.

Each IRS-CI special agent has the authority to investigate, inquire, and receive information. Of the investigative techniques available to agents, one of the most frequently used is the authority to conduct searches and issue search and seizure warrants. The authority for CI personnel to serve search warrants comes from Title 26 U.S.C. and the authority to seize assets and force taxpayers to forfeit property originates from Title 18, Title 26, and Title 31 of the U.S.C. 

The Federal Government is responsible for properly maintaining the chain of custody for any seized items. CI agents must be able to prove it is the same item that was seized and that the item is in the same condition as when it was seized in order for that seized item to be admissible as evidence.

Grand jury-related evidence must be kept separate from other non-grand jury evidence. Despite these clear directives, the CI has routinely ignored protocol, violating the rights of the taxpayers they are supposed to protect. 

Evidence was stored improperly

IRS-CI agents blatantly violated their own policies when it came to storing evidence. Specifically, agents violated The Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure Rule 6(e)(2) which states “grand jury material is secret and should be stored in either a lock-bar file cabinet or in a secured and locked room.”

IRS-CI offices lack Evidence Access Control Logs

The Evidence Access Control Log is a tool used to record and document all access to controlled areas where evidence is stored. This information includes who accesses the evidence, what evidence was accessed, and the specific reason for the access. While these logs are an essential piece of the chain of custody, CI managers did not feel the need to set it up. This lack of oversight can create several problems. As noted in the report:

When we asked why an Evidence Access Control Log was not being maintained, local CI management did not think the log was necessary for the type of evidence that they usually maintain, such as seized paper documents.  However, according to IRS policy, ‘in order for documents or other physical objects to be admissible as evidence, it is necessary to prove the items are in the same condition as when they were seized, since failure to maintain the evidence in its original condition could jeopardize admissibility.’  The evidence we found stored in open areas within the CI offices could result in chain of custody concerns, which could jeopardize the investigation and any subsequent court proceeding.

Given the history the IRS has in violating the basic due process rights of the American people, the Biden proposal to give the agency even more power and money are alarming to taxpayers.

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IRS Unit Has More Cars than Agents and Fails to Ensure Cars Are Used for Official Business

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Friday, July 23rd, 2021, 12:15 PM PERMALINK

If a regular American taxpayer failed to show proper documentation for vehicle use related to their tax return, they would be in civil and criminal trouble with the IRS. But a new Inspector General report shows that the IRS would not pass the same audit it subjects Americans to.

The IRS Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) division fails to perform basic due diligence to ensure its vehicles are being used properly. And many agents are assigned individual vehicles even though they do not need one and are not qualified for one, according to a recent report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

The inspector general found "questionable and missing information reported by special agents for commutes and commuting miles."

How would the IRS react if you were under audit and gave them "questionable or missing information"?

The division also has more vehicles than it does agents, costing taxpayers millions in unnecessary expenses. These findings are alarming given that President Biden has proposed a massive expansion in the size and power of the IRS.

Key excerpts from the report are as follows:

Excerpt #1: 

"questionable reporting of commutes and commuting mileage brings into question CI’s maintenance of sufficiently detailed, accurate information and data to support day-to-day oversight of the fleet as well as its compliance with requirements under the Home-to-Work authorization."

Excerpt #2:

"Our analysis of the number of pool vehicles compared to CI’s utilization criteria found there were excess pool vehicles in the CI fleet inventory."

Excerpt #3:

"Our review of fleet usage information provided by CI found that its data were often inaccurate or incomplete."

Excerpt #4:

"Our analysis of CIMIS usage data from April 2017 through January 2020 found questionable data reported for individually assigned vehicle use. Specifically, we identified three special agents who reported between 95,000 and 242,000 total mission miles in a 12-month period. The mileage reported is significantly greater than the 7,200 mile utilization criteria used by the IRS’s Facilities Management and Securities Services Division."

Excerpt #5:

"We also identified questionable and missing information reported by special agents for commutes and commuting miles. Specifically, 125 special agents reported zero commutes or commuting miles in a 12-month period. The information reported by these 125 special agents would indicate that they did not drive their assigned fleet vehicle to or from their place of  employment during this period. As such, the information reported by these special agents does not support his or her need to have an individually assigned vehicle based on criteria and requirements associated with Home-to-Work authority, which is discussed further in this report."

Excerpt #6: 

"the Home-to-Work data provided included missing and questionable information."

Excerpt #7:

"Our review found that the information provided by CI fleet management during this review was inadequate to support proper fleet management."

Excerpt #8: 

"Based on the evidence and documentation provided by CI, there were 342 special agents who did not report any commutes during the three-year period shown above in Figure 4. If these agents’ individually assigned vehicles were transitioned into pool vehicles at a two-to-one ratio, CI could potentially have realized cost savings of more than $871,682."

Excerpt #9: 

"Our review of inventory reports and Home-to-Work reports provided by CI fleet management found that CI is unnecessarily retaining and paying for an excessive number of fleet vehicles."

Excerpt #10: 

"eliminating questionable positions from Home-to-Work authority could have provided cost savings of over $1,714,943 over the three 12-month time frames included in our analysis. Appropriate analysis, controls, and measurable use associated with vehicle utilization, including realistic estimates on new hires and employee attrition and evaluating the necessity for Home-to-Work authority for special agent positions that do not qualify, are needed to ensure that CI reduces excess vehicle inventory and reduces unnecessary costs when possible."

CI’s fleet manager is responsible for providing timely information reports on the status and utilization of the CI fleet to the U.S. Department of the Treasury Fleet Manager under the Assistant Secretary for Management. 

As of January 1, 2020, the CI fleet program included 2,221 vehicles compared to just 2,030 agents. Of these vehicles, 1,698 vehicles were assigned individually to special agents and 523 vehicles were assigned as “pool cars”, or vehicles assigned to one or more IRS offices. All CI special agents with field investigative responsibilities and a select number with protective service responsibilities are authorized for Home-to-Work transportation. The annual cost of CI’s vehicle fleet inventory is shown below.

Federal agencies are required to maintain logs and other records to establish the official purpose of their Home-to-Work programs. Special agents are required to log all daily use of the vehicle outside the normally scheduled tour of duty. Despite these mandates, the TIGTA report found the IRS agents routinely ignored protocol. 

The IRS does not meet the standards it demands of taxpayers.

"If a small business owner gets audited, the IRS demands to see a detailed 'contemporaneous log' of their business miles, organized just so. But IRS agents themselves have no problem using taxpayer-funded company cars with a far more lax standard," said tax expert Ryan Ellis, certified as an IRS Enrolled Agent and president of the Center for a Free Economy.

Incomplete or inaccurate data do not support an efficient fleet program

TIGTA’s analysis of Criminal Investigation Management Information System (CIMIS) usage data between April 2017 and January 2020 found questionable data reported for individually assigned vehicles. The investigation uncovered three special agents who reported between 95,000 and 242,000 total mission miles in a 12-month period. This number greatly exceeds the 7,200 mile utilization criteria used by the IRS’s Facilities Management and Securities Services Division. Furthermore, the number of mission miles reported by these three agents were well above the average mission miles reported by other CI special agents.

The report also found that 125 special agents reported zero commutes or commuting miles in a 12-month period. The information reported by these 125 special agents would indicate that they did not drive their assigned fleet vehicle to or from their place of employment during this period. As such, the information reported by these special agents does not support their need to have an individually assigned vehicle based on criteria and requirements associated with Home-to-Work authority.

IRS fails to ensure accuracy of reported mileage

IRS procedures indicate that the manual input of mileage and usage information for these vehicles is to be completed monthly by administrative support staff. The guidance explicitly states that responsibility for the accuracy of the database rests with each CI employee. 

The procedures clearly identify which CI employee is responsible to ensure the accuracy of the database, with special agents entering data into their diaries, and administrative support staff transcribing the information from the diaries into the CIMIS. This leads to CIMIS administrators not correcting errors when they are identified. 

CI fleet management indicated that supervisory special agents are not required to physically verify the ending mileage on Government-operated vehicles on a month‐to‐month basis, allowing issues to go unnoticed, such as excessive mileage reported by special agents.

CI fleet management often provided incomplete data

TIGTA requested copies of the vehicle use data that CI fleet management is required to maintain to ensure effective management and oversight of its fleet. Some information, such as vehicle inventory reports, internal Home-to-Work analyses, and monthly expense reports, was provided to the investigators, while other important information was not always complete or up to retention standards. 

The report found that the Home-to-Work data provided included missing and questionable information. In addition, several older mileage reports were not available. 

The investigators also found that Fleet management does not track consolidated data on the number of special agents whose authorizations were suspended, why they were suspended, or the number of reinstatements that had been processed. 

Problematic guidance led to inaccurate reporting practices

Through their investigation, TIGTA found that special agents were not provided clear guidance to accurately input commuting miles. The guidance instructed CI agents to record commuting data without specifying whether the commute was within their tour of duty. 

Because this information lacks important details, there is a risk that the account includes an insufficient record of vehicle use outside of the normally scheduled tour of duty hours as required. 

CI cannot justify its fleet program size

TIGTA’s review of CI fleet management inventory reports and Home-to-Work reports found that the unit is unnecessarily retaining and paying for an excessive number of fleet vehicles. CI’s vehicle utilization criteria allow for one vehicle per special agent in the field and one pool vehicle for each supervisory special agent’s staff. However, a review of mission miles reported by special agents found that the mission miles reported by hundreds of these special agents would not have met the minimum requirements.

A breakdown of mission miles for individually assigned vehicles can be found below. 

CI’s fleet inventory has an unnecessary number of pool vehicles

The report found that 58, 140, and 10 vehicles were added to pool inventory due to attrition in FYs 2017, 2018, and 2019, respectively. Despite the push for this increase in the size of the fleet, none of these vehicles were accessed during these time frames, effectively increasing the number of vehicles in CI’s pool fleet. A cost savings of $1,016,606 could have been realized over three years.

Due to poor management, the taxpayer-funded vehicle fleet is too large.

Not all positions in CI require an individually assigned vehicle

Back in 2011 CI reduced the number of individually assigned vehicles in certain positions. The division also reduced the positions qualifying for Home-to-Work authority. This led to 64 special agents and approximately 127 special agent positions being identified as no longer requiring Home-to-Work authorization. 

Despite their conclusion that these positions were unnecessary for individual vehicle assignment, CI bulletins indicate that these positions were added back into the Home-to-Work request in February 2014, which was subsequently approved by the Department of the Treasury.

All told, eliminating questionable positions from Home-to-Work authority could have provided cost savings of over $1,714,943 over the three 12-month time frames included in the analysis. The breakdown of those potential savings is shown in the table below. 

This latest audit of the IRS is more evidence of an agency-wide problem with basic competence and due diligence resulting in wasted taxpayer funds and poor execution of core duties.

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Biden's fattened up IRS will audit "restaurants, retail, salons and other service-based companies"

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Thursday, May 6th, 2021, 9:54 AM PERMALINK

President Biden's plan to fatten up the IRS by $80 billion will target small businesses with aggressive audits such as "restaurants, retail, salons and other service-based companies."

Experts interviewed by CNBC note the plan would affect many small businesses that depend on usage of cash:

Certain small businesses may face an audit under the plan.

“I think the industries that should be concerned are those in cash,” said Luis Strohmeier, a Miami-based CFP and partner at Octavia Wealth Advisors.

He expects the agency to scrutinize cash-only small businesses like restaurants, retail, salons and other service-based companies.

At a time when Americans are already struggling to stay afloat, Biden also wants the IRS to snoop on every bank account and Venmo/CashApp account in the country.

"The proposal would require banks to report annual account inflows and outflows to the Internal Revenue Service. The requirement would also extend to peer-to-peer payment services such as Venmo," notes the Wall Street Journal.

At a time when Americans are already struggling, these new reporting rules would create unnecessary burdens. As noted in this excerpt from Forbes:

It may create problems, however, that should be considered and addressed as this plan works its way through Congress. For example, consider a young couple saving up to buy a home. All savings are put into the “dream home” savings account. Then, when it comes time to make the down payment, the $50,000 dream home savings goes into the regular checking account, which is then wired to the seller’s escrow account. Buying a home is not a taxable event (at least for federal income tax), selling one is. Will the IRS receive information from the financial institutions that leads to an audit?

Paul Merski, vice president of congressional relations at Independent Community Bankers of America, voiced his criticism of the proposal:

Banks already report millions of transactions a day to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in the form of currency transaction reports, in addition to suspicious activity reports, which are required when potential illicit activity is detected by a bank. Banks are required to submit currency transaction reports when a deposit or withdrawal is $10,000 or more, a threshold that’s already very low, Merski said.

Merski said the proposal, as written, is akin to “sending your bank statement to the IRS every month,” which would be opposed by the banking industry because of the reporting burdens already required by federal regulators.

“The federal government can’t track all of that—any more requirements would be adding more hay to that haystack,” he said.

As also noted by the Wall Street Journal, the bank account snooping will give the IRS an "enormous" quantity of new data:

It would also create an enormous flow of information that the IRS would have to learn how to manage and use.


Congress will have to weigh the potential burdens and privacy concerns against the revenue gains as it considers the plan.

Observers are rightly skeptical that this plan will be able to generate anywhere near the $780 billion promised by the Biden administration. As noted in this excerpt from Yahoo News:

Previous government estimates put the benefits of increased IRS funding much lower. Last year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that an additional $40 billion of funding over 10 years would increase government revenues by $103 billion.

Even Obama-era IRS chief John Koskinen questioned the Biden $80 billion funding request. "I'm not sure you'd be able to efficiently use that much money," he said.

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Former Keystone Pipeline Worker: "I’m just devastated by the decision of this administration to cancel the Keystone XL"

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Tuesday, March 9th, 2021, 6:20 PM PERMALINK



Americans for Tax Reform is collecting personal testimonials of Americans hit by President Biden's executive actions. (If you would like to submit a short video, please send it to Mike Mirsky at mmirsky@atr.org).

Please watch this video from Kasey, a member of Pipeliners Local Union 798:

"We were directly affected, well just a little history first. I married my highschool sweetheart. We have three children. Brady is our oldest, he is soon to sew on his tech sergeant stripes in the Air Force. Our son Tucker is our middle child. He is going to college to become a commercial airline pilot and he’s also a ground supervisor at Delta down in Minneapolis. And then we have our daughter Trinity is 14 and we’re still raising her. These so-called temporary jobs have been our way of life since the day my husband and I were married, even before then. He graduated, his mom bought him luggage to go to college and he got all his graduation money. Well he took that graduation money, bought my engagement ring and proposed to me, took the luggage and went pipelining. That’s how our story began with pipelines. He started out as a laborer and he decided he wanted to further himself. So he spent one whole winter, 8 hours a day 5 days a week, out in our garage teaching himself how to weld. Well he took that test next spring and he became a welder and it just changed our life, financially for sure. And then he was offered another opportunity and he became a 798 union member, and that was one of the best decisions we ever made. 798 has been so good to us and you’ll find out why throughout my story. After a few years of doing that, you know, he said ‘hey, why don’t you come be my helper?’ and I was like ‘hey, yeah I think I’d like that’ cause my husband and I have a very close relationship. So for 10 years we worked side-by-side, 24/7, together, 365 days a week, never had any major issues. We really enjoyed it. I enjoyed pipelining. My family grew, we’re a very close-knit group of people. There is some bad press out there about us, but I’m telling you guys not the people I hang with, not the people, the union I represent. We are held to an extremely high standard. Well, back to the story. So, you know, we built our dream home here on the Lene land and everything was going great. Well in 2018 September I was on a job, the gas company was Northern Natural down in the cities, Minneapolis Saint Paul area. I was getting ready for work one morning and I noticed a lump in my right breast. I tried to brush it off, you know I got to work. That's the mentality of pipeliners, we work hard. And I brushed it off, but something was nagging at me. Long story short I went to get it checked out and it was stage three breast cancer. Boy, talk about your world getting turned upside down. But through the grace of it, was that we had insurance through our union, 798. So, by the grace of god, so thankful, we didn’t have to pay hardly anything for my cancer journey and I had to do the whole thing. I did the chemo, and one chemo treatment was $24,000 just for the medicine itself. I had 16. I had three surgeries. I went through six weeks of radiation five days a week. Not to mention all of the scans, MRIs, specialist, I mean I’m sure I’m a million dollar case. And by having these good temporary union jobs, we had an amazing health insurance plan. Where through that cancer journey, not only did we lose my $65,000 a year income cause of my cancer, but then my husband had to be there to help take care of me so we lost his welding income, but by the grace of god we had this insurance through our union from all the hours we had worked that pretty much paid for my cancer treatments, thank god. We had to pay our deductibles, but then we have an HRA account that covered that. But our insurance is based on hours that we work. So, long story short, had cancer, thank god for my 798 union insurance, that we worked for, through our hours we worked through the years. Then COVID hits. Well my husband can’t find work, I’m still not quite healthy enough to go back to work. Praise God I’m in remission, you know all that. COVID hits, can’t find work, things slow down, so he only worked four months that year. So our insurance is starting to go down because we haven’t worked hours. Well then, we finally got on the Keystone XL in October of this year. And we were so excited, we were finally getting back on our feet. We took our whole family, we loaded up, and we went down to Ada, Oklahoma. Stayed in a wonderful campground, met new family members I love. It was going great. I was at home, in the camper watching the inauguration happening when my husband called me at 2:00. And he says ‘babe, start packing up the camper, we’re going home’. I said ‘what are you talking about’. He said ‘Biden shut it down’. I said ‘what’. He said ‘Biden shut it down’. I said ‘but he just got into office you know’. We only had like maybe six weeks left on that particular job. Yes, we knew that, but that’s twenty grand that we lost out, twenty to thirty grand that we lost out in six weeks. And, there was potential that he was going to go to Montana and do another job come April for the Keystone, and since he was already tested you know it would have been a great opportunity. We were just getting back on our feet after cancer, COVID, and then now the Commander in Chief. So we were hit by the three C’s. He was getting ready to do a 24 inch weld, getting it lined up, getting ready to go, completely left it, job done, shut down. Now not only financially does that scare me, but for my health. Now, we have a few hours built up that will maybe get us through maybe a month or two of insurance, but if my husband can’t find work soon, then I will not be able to continue making sure I stay in remission. I will not be able to afford those scans or MRIs that have to be done to guarantee or the ultrasounds or the bloodwork. I’m going to lose all that. Those of you who say ‘oh you can go on Medicare’ it’s not the same quality of care. In fact, my oncologist wouldn’t even have probably accepted me if I had not had the insurance I had. I picked a good oncologist, it was particular. I mean this is my life we are talking about. Stage three is only one stage away from stage four. So by Biden doing this, he affected more than he knows. He affected possibly my health, my future, our livelihoods, my children's futures, not to mention the countless co-workers’ futures were affected, the campground we stayed at. They were making, when we left, they probably lost four grand a month, just off us pipeliners. I don’t understand, I’m confused, I’m hurt, I’m scared, I’m angry because this is more than just a financial thing for my family, this is a health crisis thing. If we cannot work, we cannot have insurance. I am begging this administration to please consider these things. The oil is still being transported in on rail or truck. It’s still coming into America, people. Why not do it by a pipeline? It costs $30 a barrel to ship it by rail, $10 a barrel by pipeline. Yes, I understand there’s been leaks blah blah blah this and that well I’ve seen a pipeline built, maintained, in process the technology is out of this world now. Things are completely different then when they built them. That’s why Line 3 was so important. Let’s get that old line that is not as up to code, up to standard, up to technology and let’s replace it with the new, advanced technology we have where if there’s a problem we know in an instant. These pipelines are monitored 24/7. Come to Clearbrook, Minnesota we have two tank farms. We have Coke, which I don’t know if there’s still Coke they might have changed their name, and we have Inbridge. I have worked in both stations. I have seen rehabs, I have seen how it all works. The environmental, the testing every weld my husband makes, is 100% x-rayed and if he misses three, he loses his job. Every job he gets, every single job he takes, on these temporary jobs that he’s been doing for 27 years, he has to test and if does not pass that test he does not get that job. There is no safer to transport this oil than via a pipeline. You cannot convince the other way. Do I believe that green energy has a place? Absolutely. But like my fellow 798 member Neal Crabtree said, ‘we have to have that balance, we need both’, and right now his decision is affecting a lot of lives more than he realize, and I feel the blood is on his hands. I thank you for the time to let me tell my story. I pray for this nation, and again I’m just devastated by the decision of this administration to cancel the Keystone pipeline XL. I really really wish that he would reconsider. For the safety and well being of my family, and hundreds of other families that I know personally. So that is my story, sorry to make it a little long, but I am passionate about it. So, God bless”

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Biden Keystone Order Hits Small Business Hard: “Over $3,000 in monthly revenue that was gone literally within 48 hours.”

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Thursday, March 4th, 2021, 6:00 AM PERMALINK

President Biden's order to kill the KeystoneXL pipeline is not only hitting pipeline workers. Small businesses along the pipeline route are also being hit hard.

South Dakota resident Tricia Burns owns a gym in Philip, South Dakota:

"We lost 45 memberships -- that's over $3,000 in monthly revenue that was gone literally within 48 hours. We had negotiated contracts with security companies that were coming in to secure the pipeline. That would have brought us another 120 memberships."

Click here or below to watch her video testimonial.

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"Canceling this Keystone Pipeline to make a group of people happy has had real life consequences. We got people who can't work now, can't provide for their families."

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021, 9:30 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform is collecting personal testimonials of Americans hit by President Biden's policies. (If you would like to submit a short video, please send it to Mike Mirsky at mmirsky@atr.org).

Please watch this video from Neal Crabtree:

"My name is Neal Crabtree. I was welding on the Keystone XL pipeline January the 20th and I was laid off that very same day, the same day that president Biden took office.

One of the biggest issues I have is how people don't seem to care. They say these are just temporary jobs. Well, if you think about it, a lot of jobs in this country are temporary. When a carpenter goes to build a house, he's not working on that same house his entire career. He starts that house and finishes it and moves on to another one.

The same way with a lawyer. When he signs up a client he takes that case to court, and he either wins or loses, and then he moves on to another one. In this case, that pipeline was our client and the government is taking our future away by not letting us work.

To me, leadership -- which, when I say leadership I'm referring to the president, leadership isn't thinking you're solving one problem when you're really creating another one.

Canceling this Keystone Pipeline to make a group of people happy has had real life consequences. We got people who can't work now, can't provide for their families."


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Oilfield Welder on Biden's Hostility to Oil and Gas Jobs: "You have to change your whole life up because of politics."

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Posted by Michael Mirsky on Friday, February 26th, 2021, 7:00 AM PERMALINK

Reporting from Watford City, North Dakota, the Fargo Forum interviewed local residents regarding President Biden’s hostility to oil and gas workers:

"I think everybody up here feels like we’re absolutely screwed," said Tara Paul, a Denver native who followed her sons to western North Dakota oil country just months before the pandemic hit.

Despite the claims of the Biden administration, workers cannot simply switch to working on solar panels. One of Tara’s sons, Shawn, shared his frustration over Biden’s lack of empathy:

For Shawn, 23, even if oil prices rebound in the next few years, the Biden climate agenda and the newly secured Democratic control in Washington look like writing on the wall for his long-term hopes in the oil business. "You build your lifestyle on these things, and you have to change your whole life up because of politics," Shawn said.

On Dec. 19, 2019, Biden said he would be willing to displace "hundreds of thousands of blue collar workers" in pursuit of a "Green New Deal."

Biden also suggested energy workers who lose their job due to his policies should learn to code.

On Dec. 30, 2019, Joe Biden said: "Anybody who can go down 300 to 3,000 feet in a mine can sure as hell learn to program as well...Give me a break! Anybody who can throw coal into a furnace can learn how to program, for god's sake!

If you would like to read the rest of the Fargo Forum article, it can be found here.

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