ATR Supports Rep. Roskam's "Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act"

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Wednesday, February 7th, 2018, 1:22 PM PERMALINK

Today, ATR released a letter in support of Congressman Peter Roskam's H.R. 4916, the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act. This important legislation prevents the IRS from targeting non-profits by prohibiting the agency from collecting the identity of donors who contribute to these organizations.

Protecting free speech is an issue that should be supported by members and groups regardless of political affiliation. The Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act should be a key part of the effort to reform the IRS and protect political free speech.

The full letter can be viewed here and below. 

Dear Congressman Roskam:

I write in support of H.R. 4916, the Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act. This important legislation prevents the IRS from targeting non-profits by prohibiting the agency from collecting the identity of donors who contribute to these organizations.

Under current law, the IRS requires non-profits to submit a Schedule B form, listing the names and addresses of their donors. While the agency collects this sensitive information, it does not use it for any purpose.

Instead, this form needlessly imposes compliance costs on both non-profits and the IRS, while also giving unelected bureaucrats a tool to chill political speech.

This concern is not hypothetical - there have been several cases where agency officials have leaked the sensitive information contained on Schedule B forms for political purposes. IRS officials have even publically doubted the need for Schedule B forms given that there is no need to collect this information, and the risk of this information becoming public.

There is a clear need to reform the IRS to better protect free speech. There have been well documented cases of the agency targeting political speech under the Obama Administration, most notably when IRS employee Lois Lerner led an effort to deny non-profit status to conservative organizations. Years after this scandal, it is unclear whether sufficient protections are in place.

For instance, a 2016 recent report by the Government Accountability Office warned that the IRS may still be unfairly targeting Americans based on political beliefs. As the report noted, serious internal control flaws mean the IRS may still be unfairly selecting Americans for an audit “based on an organization’s religious, educational, political, or other views.”

Protecting free speech is an issue that should be supported by members and groups regardless of political affiliation. Refusing to act against IRS abuse opens the door to future administrations doing the same regardless of whether they are Democrat or Republican.

The Preventing IRS Abuse and Protecting Free Speech Act should be a key part of the effort to reform the IRS and protect political free speech. All Members of Congress should support this important legislation.


Grover G. Norquist
President, Americans for Tax Reform

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

Leah Vukmir Makes Written Commitment to Oppose Higher Taxes in U.S. Senate Race

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Posted by Adam Radman on Tuesday, February 6th, 2018, 2:29 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) congratulates U.S. Senate candidate Leah Vukmir for signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which is a written commitment to the people of Wisconsin to oppose higher taxes.

Vukmir has had a distinguished career in Badger State politics, which spans terms as a state senator and a state representative. Showing her dedication to Wisconsin taxpayers, Vukmir signed and kept the Taxpayer Protection Pledge on the state level and renewed her solemn promise to taxpayers by signing the "no new taxes" Pledge for the U.S. Senate race. ATR strongly encourages all candidates to make the same commitment to taxpayers.

“The American people are tired of the tax-and-spend policies coming from Washington and they are looking for solutions that create jobs, cut government spending, and grow the economy. Signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge and holding the line on taxes is the first step in that process,” said Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform.

Candidates running for public office like to say they will not raise taxes, but often turn their backs on the taxpayer once elected. The Taxpayer Protection Pledge requires these candidates to put their rhetoric in writing. It is offered to every candidate for state and federal office and to all incumbents. Nearly 1,400 elected officials have signed the Pledge.

“We are ecstatic about Leah Vukmir’s strong commitment to the taxpayers of Wisconsin. I challenge all candidates for Wisconsin's U.S. Senate race to make the same commitment to taxpayers by signing the Taxpayer Protection Pledge today,” continued Norquist.

Photo Credit: Leah Vukmir for Senate

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36 Governors Proclaim ‘Ronald Reagan Day’ in their State

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Posted by Americans for Tax Reform on Tuesday, February 6th, 2018, 1:28 PM PERMALINK

Ronald Reagan Legacy Project honors the legacy of the 40th President

Each year the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project sends requests to governors from all 50 states to issue a proclamation declaring February 6 "Ronald Reagan Day." This year, to celebrate Reagan's birthday, 36 states -- three with Democrat governors -- signed official proclamations recognizing Ronald Reagan Day in their state.

Grover Norquist founded the Ronald Reagan Legacy Project in 1997. The project is committed to preserving the legacy of the 40th President of the United States throughout the nation and abroad, and also works to encourage the naming of buildings, roads, landmarks, and schools after the late President. There are currently 151 domestic dedications in 33 states and the District of Columbia, and 17 international dedications in nine countries.

Norquist said: “Reagan reduced the size and scope of government, cut taxes for all Americans, and laid the foundation for economic prosperity. By the time he left office, America was freer, safer, and stronger in every way. Reagan’s leadership had a resounding impact on the lives of citizens here at home and individuals worldwide.”

The following 36 Governors have issued proclamations declaring today as Ronald Reagan Day in their states:

Alabama- Kay Ivey (R)

Arizona- Doug Ducey (R)

Arkansas- Asa Hutchinson (R)

California- Jerry Brown (D)

Colorado- John Hickenlooper (D)

Florida- Rick Scott (R)

Georgia-Nathan Deal (R)

Idaho- Butch Otter (R)

Illinois- Bruce Rauner (R)

Indiana- Eric Holcomb (R)

Iowa- Kim Reynolds (R)

Kansas- Jeff Colyer (R)

Kentucky- Matt Bevin (R)

Maine- Paul LePage (R)

Maryland- Larry Hogan (R)

Massachusetts- Charlie Baker (R)

Michigan- Rick Snyder (R)

Mississippi- Phil Bryant (R)

Missouri- Eric Greitens (R)

Nebraska- Pete Ricketts (R)

Nevada- Brian Sandoval (R)

New Hampshire- Chris Sununu (R)

New Jersey- Phil Murphy (D)

New Mexico- Susana Martinez (R)

North Dakota- Doug Burgum (R)

Ohio- John Kasich (R)

Oklahoma- Mary Fallin (R)

South Carolina- Henry McMaster (R)

South Dakota- Dennis Daugaard (R)

Tennessee- Bill Haslam (R)

Texas- Greg Abbott (R)

Utah- Gary Herbert (R)

Vermont- Phil Scott (R)

West Virginia- Jim Justice (R)

Wisconsin- Scott Walker (R)

Wyoming- Matt Mead (R)

There are 14 governors who have not issued a proclamation declaring Ronald Reagan Day in their states:

Alaska- Bill Walker (I)

Connecticut- Dannel Malloy (D)

Delaware-John Carney (D)

Hawaii- David Ige (D)

Louisiana- John Bel Edwards (D)

Minnesota- Mark Dayton (D)

Montana- Steve Bullock (D)

New York- Andrew Cuomo (D)

North Carolina- Roy Cooper (D)

Oregon- Kate Brown (D) 

Pennsylvania- Tom Wolf (D)

Rhode Island- Gina Raimondo (D)

Virginia- Ralph Northam (D)

Washington- Jay Inslee (D)

Photo Credit: Thomas Hawk

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Local Breweries raise a glass to Federal Tax Reform

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Posted by Pia Roca on Monday, February 5th, 2018, 2:02 PM PERMALINK

Craft beer makers are raising a glass to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.

In addition to lowering income tax rates for individuals, families, and employers, the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act that President Trump signed into law in December also lowered the federal excise tax by half for breweries making less than 2 million barrels per year, a category in which most small U.S. breweries fall under.

For the first 60,000 barrels, craft breweries will pay $3.50 per barrel instead of $7—a 50% rate reduction that could create an additional $320 million in growth, according to industry estimates. This tax relief is expected to give a boost to an industry that has been a major growth sector in recent years. Between 2012 and 2016 alone the number of breweries in the U.S. doubled by about 2,800, citing a 16% increase in an industry that provides more than 2.2 million jobs.

Jim McGreevy, President and CEO of The Beer Institute, lauded the passage of the tax reform and the boost that a reduced excise tax rate will provide to the economy:

“The Tax Cut and Jobs Act will provide critical federal excise tax relief for brewers and beer importers of all sizes and will enable America’s more than 5,000 breweries to add to the American economy through technology, innovation and jobs. We thank the more than 300 members of the House of Representatives and 55 members of the Senate who supported the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act.”

Tiffany Puza, operations manager of the Bad Lab Beer Company in New Hampshire explains how she plans to use the new tax savings to expand their marketing strategies and bring in new business:

“This tax break will let us build our first marketing budget. Before it, really every dollar we spent was going towards our product and keeping our doors open. Crucial items like six-pack carriers, labels, bottles, caps all need to be designed and they have very high minimum costs. Our prediction is we will double our output in the next year, so we’re going to have to work extremely hard to get our name out there to meet those numbers.”

Nicole Carrier, owner of Throwback Brewery in North Hampton, New Hampshire, also plans to reinvest tax savings into expansion of his business:

We’re definitely going to use this money for more infrastructure here. Any time the government decides to side with small businesses and gives them extra capital to use, it’s an enormous help.”

In a similar manner, John Buetel from Keg Creek Brewing in Iowa said tax reform would save the brewery over $5,200 in 2018. Across the nation, the Tax Cuts & Jobs Act encourages the economic growth of local breweries by allowing them to keep their savings and expand their businesses.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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Treasury Secretary Mnuchin Praises Sen. Crapo’s Bipartisan Banking Bill

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Posted by James Setterlund on Monday, February 5th, 2018, 1:45 PM PERMALINK

Last week, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin appeared before the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee to discuss the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s annual report to Congress, of which Secretary Mnuchin is the chairperson. In his opening statement to the committee, Secretary Mnuchin offered praise for Committee Chairman Mike Crapo’s bipartisan legislation, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155), calling it a “thoughtful approach that better aligns our financial system to support economic growth in our communities.”

For starters, Secretary Mnuchin is right, this bill will ease the regulatory burden for small and midsize financial institutions that provide mortgage lending services to lower income Americans and those in rural communities. The bill also makes it easier for smaller financial institutions to engage in market making activities if the institutions are below $10 billion in assets in conjunction with additional leverage ratios. Perhaps the most discussed portion of the legislation is Title IV, which will increase the threshold in which bank holding companies are subject to enhanced regulation from the current $50 billion in assets to $250 billion in assets. The bill also provides a path for banks between $100 billion to $250 billion in assets to be exempt from regulatory red tape after 18 months of the enactment of the bill or sooner.

While this is an important step toward reforming Dodd-Frank and increasing consumer’s access to capital, the legislation has two areas that could be improved. First, larger financial institutions that provide services to millions of Americans do not have the ability to obtain regulatory relief in this legislation. Like the small and mid-size institutions, the larger financial institutions spend a significant amount of money on regulatory compliance when much of that spending could be better used in the hands of consumers and in the marketplace.

The bill also mandates credit reporting agencies to offer customers credit monitoring services “free of charge”, while industry competitors are not subject to this mandate. Simply put, these are private industries whose services are not the governments to give away. A government mandate like this will stifle both innovation and competition in the credit monitoring marketplace.

Chairman Crapo’s legislation demonstrates his thoughtful approach to reforming financial regulation while promoting economic growth; a goal that started early in 2017 with his committee soliciting reform proposals from industry and outside organizations. As Secretary Mnuchin noted S. 2155 also incorporates many of the Treasury’s recommendations and will provide much needed relief to consumers and small businesses. Americans for Tax Reform has supported President Trump’s call to reform Dodd-Frank and we welcome this reform package.

Photo Credit: Owen Dett

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ATR Opposes Increase in Passenger Facility Charge

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Posted by Alex Hendrie on Monday, February 5th, 2018, 1:29 PM PERMALINK

In letters to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, Americans for Tax Reform wrote in opposition to an increase in the Passenger Facility Charge (PFC). While many airports have claimed that a PFC increase is necessary to continue infrastructure projects, this is simply not the case.

Airports already enjoy strong cash flow and revenue, and government taxes and fees already overburden airline passengers. Lawmakers should oppose a PFC increase whether it is considered as standalone legislation or part of a larger government funding bill. A PFC increase is not needed to finance airport investment, would fall squarely on travelers, and goes against regular order.

A copy of the letter sent to Speaker Ryan can be viewed here.

A copy of the letter sent to Leader McConnell can be viewed here. 

[See also: ATR letters to Senator Collins, Senator Daines, Senator Alexander, Senator Blunt, Senator Capito, Senator Shelby, Senator Hoeven, Senator Graham, Senator Boozman]

Photo Credit: Ron Cogswell

ATR Broadly Supports Sen. Crapo's Banking Reform Legislation

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Posted by James Setterlund on Monday, February 5th, 2018, 11:15 AM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform released a letter of support for S. 2155, Chairman Crapo's banking bill that reduces regulatory barriers and increases Americans access to credit. This legislation in an important step in rolling back Dodd-Frank. 

The full letter can be found here and below. 


February 5th, 2018

The Honorable Mike Crapo
Chairman Senate Banking Committee
239 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510


Dear Chairman Crapo:

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform I write to express support of S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act, while the legislation can be improved, we feel it is an important step in the right direction.

Since the enactment of Dodd-Frank in 2010, US banks have disappeared at a rate faster than one per business day and fewer than 10 new banks have formed nationwide. The banks that have shouldered much of the regulatory burden are the regional and community banks. As a result, many of these banks have restricted mortgage lending and access to credit for small businesses and rural communities.

Under S. 2155, banking entities that meet certain capital requirements will be partially exempt from the Volcker Rule, which has hindered how institutions engaging in market marking activities. The legislation will also increase the threshold in which bank holding companies are subject to enhanced regulation from the current $50 billion in assets to $250 billion in assets. The bill also provides a path for banks between $100 billion to $250 billion in assets to be exempt from regulatory red tape after 18 months of the bills enactment or sooner. As a result, many of these banks will be able to provide more access to capital for their customers instead of spending more to comply with onerous regulations.

While the bill overall represents an important step forward, we have a concern over an amendment to be added to Title III of the Act which mandates credit reporting agencies provide their proprietary credit monitoring products “free of charge” and then opens them up to new liability which the trial bar will certainly try to exploit. Ultimately, these resources are not the governments to give away. Credit agencies should not bear financial burdens unless shown to be at fault in the case of a data breach or other negligence or malfeasance. Congress should also create market certainty through legislation instead of delegating rule making authority to agency administrators. 

The legislation can also be improved by extending regulatory relief to large financial institutions that consistently meet the enhanced prudential standards.

S. 2155 provides much needed relief to community and regional financial institutions while jumpstarting small businesses and hopeful homeowners access to capital. While there is still more work to be done, it is a positive step in the right direction, and we are encouraged by the Senate to continue to work and reform Dodd-Frank.


Grover G. Norquist
Americans for Tax Reform



Photo Credit: Andrew Sutherland

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California Space Tax is Out of This World

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Posted by Tyler Tate on Friday, February 2nd, 2018, 4:24 PM PERMALINK

Last month, Republican Assemblyman Tom Lackey introduced legislation to repeal California’s recently enacted tax on space travel. California’s space tax, the first ever created, requires businesses exploring and attempting space travel to pay taxes based on miles traveled through space and the frequency of flight launches.

The tax has the potential to greatly harm California’s $61.6 billion aerospace industry and the high paying jobs and investment it generates because it puts California at a further disadvantage to competing states.

Importantly, California is increasingly locked in competition with other states to attract and retain aerospace businesses. However, in contrast to California’s litany of high taxes and anti-business regulations, competing states like Florida, Texas, and Georgia have gone as far as offering tax incentives to aerospace businesses to entice them to move away from California.

The impacts of these opposing policies on California’s economy are already being felt. Moon Express, a business at the frontier of the space industry, has already left California for Florida because of Florida’s economic development incentives. Although nonintervention is preferable to economic incentives, these aggressive actions to attract businesses illustrate that until the space tax is repealed, California will continue to fall further behind in attracting jobs and business investment to the state.

Unfortunately, the damage of this space tax is not limited to jobs and business investment. Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, notes that “space exploration has led to advances that fundamentally change lives, including solar panels and artificial limbs.” The space tax threatens to block the invention of these innovative and transformational products, which would significantly impact the lives of all Americans.

Lackey’s bill to repeal the space tax is currently pending before the California Assembly Committee on Taxation and Revenue and would require support from a significant number of Democrats to pass. The bill poses a key question for California Democrats: is the sky no longer the limit for high taxes?

Photo Credit: Reuters

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Think Progress Hates On Twinkie Maker Hostess, Declares $1,250 Tax Reform Bonuses "phony"

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Posted by ATR on Thursday, February 1st, 2018, 5:00 PM PERMALINK

Over 300 companies have already announced tax reform bonuses, pay raises, and 401(k) hikes. Kansas City-based Hostess Brands, Inc. is one of them. They make Twinkies, Ho Hos, Ding Dongs, Zingers, Donettes, Sno Balls, and other delicious items.

Thanks to tax reform, employees will receive a $750 cash bonus, plus $500 in 401(k) contributions, plus free snacks for a year.

As reported by Bloomberg:

A representative from each of Hostess's bakeries will choose a product each week, and the employees will be able to take home a multipack of that item.

Sounds awesome, right? Sign me up.

But the elitist lefties over at Think Progress have been desperately attempting to dismiss all of the good news stemming from tax reform and the Hostess bonuses really sent them over the edge. They declared the Hostess bonuses to be "phony."

In a Think Progress post today titled "Hostess hands out phony tax bill bonuses with a twist" they write:

The company, which makes Twinkies, Ding Dongs and Ho Hos, announced on Thursday that it is giving employees a one-time bonus of $1,250, with $750 of that in cash and $500 in the form of a 401(k) contribution. In a borderline on-the-nose move, Hostess is also giving employees one free multibox of snacks per week in addition to the small bonus. (Let them eat cake, right?)

Yet another sign the Left is out of touch.

Democrats and most media outlets continue to dismiss or altogether ignore the good news about tax reform. American workers do not agree with the “crumbs” comments of Democrat Leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer.

In their own words, here’s what Americans have to say about their tax reform bonuses and pay raises:

“I’ve got a vehicle I’m trying to get ready for my daughter. She needs transportation, so it [bonus] will help me out in that instance very much.” [Link]

"I’ve never really had anything like this happen before," said 24-year-old Brian Robertson, a mover with Broadway Express. "It’s the first job I’ve ever had to get any kind of bonus or anything." [Link]

“Anytime your paycheck increases, it’s definitely a good thing for your family," said Kristi Stoddard. "It’s nice to see they’re putting money back into the middle class." [Link]

"We’ll be able to pay more bills," said Rich Stoddard. "We might be able to go out for dinner. Do the little things we might not be able to do until this kicks in. Honestly, your paycheck, you know where it’s going even before you get it. Now we have a little extra." [Link]

“I’m very grateful for the bonus and raise I received,” said Shawn Joy, who has worked as an applicator/operator at the business for about five years. [Link]

Hair stylist Breitanya Williams spent part of her bonus fixing the taillights on her Buick Rendezvous — the only vehicle she and her husband own that will fit all four of their young children. Another portion of Williams’ extra money went toward subscribing to a workout program. “That’s like my life-changing part,” said Williams, 25. “I just had my fourth child in five years … (and I’m) trying to make my family and myself healthier.” [Link]

Williams’ colleague Laura Naven also put her bonus toward her family. She paid down hospital bills left over from when she gave birth to her 4-month-old and put some money into savings. “I have two kids, so building up the savings is key right now,” said Naven, 33, general manager at Five Senses. [Link]

“The tax reform package is becoming increasingly popular with every headline,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. “All this before Americans see higher take-home pay and lower tax withholding this month when 90% of Americans will first see their gains in their paycheck. Every two weeks from February to November Americans will be reminded that one party cut their taxes and raised their pay. And the other tried to stop it.”

Pass the Twinkies.



Photo Credit: Vicky

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Governor Haslam Touts Juvenile Justice Overhaul in State of the State Address

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Posted by Jorge Marin on Wednesday, January 31st, 2018, 1:28 PM PERMALINK

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam brought up his state’s juvenile justice initiatives during his 2018 State of the State Address, which he delivered Monday night. Gov. Haslam also used his address to announce the introduction of a bill to adopt the bipartisan recommendations of a recent task force responsible for taking stock of the state’s juvenile system. The proposed reforms in Tennessee follow a pattern of conservative states looking to overhaul their juvenile systems to improve rehabilitation results while using state resources more effectively.

The proposal includes:

  • Reserving out-of-home placement to juveniles who pose serious risks to society or who have committed violent crimes
  • Expand options for schools to deal with kids who have only violated minor technical violations. This frees up resources to deal with serious offenders
  • Assess the risks of each offender, giving them the care most likely to lead to rehabilitation

The Ad Hoc Tennessee Blue Ribbon Task Force on Juvenile Justice estimates that these reforms can reduce the delinquent and unruly population 36 percent by 2024, as well as save $36 million in taxpayer dollars. Gov. Haslam announced his support for adopting the task force’s proposals this year:

Tonight, I am also introducing the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2018. We know that too many kids get lost in the juvenile justice system. With great leadership from the Senate and the House, a task force on juvenile justice studied our system and determined that reform is needed.

We can do better. We can be smarter. And tonight I am asking the General Assembly to adopt responsible reforms that will focus the most significant state intervention on the most serious offenses. We know from evidence that costly out-of-home placements, in many circumstances, are not good for children, communities or taxpayers. With a responsible investment now, we can positively impact the lives of children and their communities, and use our resources more effectively.

Taking low level juvenile offenders out of their homes is an extreme and costly measure. This is especially important in Tennessee, where 44 percent of juveniles placed in out-of-home detention committed non-violent misdemeanors, technical violations of probation, and unruly offenses, which are crimes that apply only to children. Research on the matter shows that juvenile incarceration can in fact increase the likelihood of long-term criminality in these kids. As it turns out, warehousing kids with violent criminals makes them better criminals.

Tennessee has an opportunity to help kids turn away from lives of crime. Governor Haslam should be applauded for the steps he’s taking to rehabilitate juvenile offenders and prevent future victims.

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