CSotD: April Showers of Whatever

Michael Ramirez (Creators) starts us off with a tough one, because the facts appear to be hung up between history and hope.

A large problem with the question of who gets audited is the age of the data. The General Accounting Office, which should be an impartial source, relies on data from 2019, which is to say from the following year when the taxes were (or weren’t) paid, which is still four years ago.

As you can see, the odds of being audited then were far greater for the wealthy than for the middleclass, though that doesn’t mean the IRS was auditing fewer middleclass taxpayers, given that there are more of them.

But on average in those days, one-quarter of one percent of returns were being pulled for review, with taxpayers earning between $25,000 and half a million being below average.

If such things were stable, four-year-old records would be perfectly fine, but due to budget cuts, the IRS had to cut back on audits, particularly among those making $5 million a year, who went from 16% probability in 2010 to the two percent seen above.

That sounds like a lovely idea if you make $5 million a year and are not concerned about the deficit. Some of us don’t fall into either of those camps, but there was plenty of opposition to the Biden administration’s proposal to fund more staff at the IRS, claiming the new hires — largely clerical positions — represented an army of armed, jack-booted thugs coming after YOU!

The proposal nonetheless passed, which, for most of us, means a better chance that when we call the IRS help line next week, there will be someone available at the other end.

For some of us, it means a greater likelihood of being audited on the taxes for our $5 million earnings, which, for all of us, means that not only will the costs of this additional enforcement be paid for, but so will some other things in the national budget.

This source offers some advice on how to reduce your chances of an audit, which boils down to the tried-and-true wisdom that says the nail that sticks up gets hammered. Actually, they offer advice on how to increase your odds of an audit, the answer being “Don’t do that.”

Example: Some decades ago, I had a friend in sales who got audited and ran into a problem with his mileage deduction, because he used estimates for each trip instead of odometer readings. But he was apologetic about it, so the auditor went easy on him, disallowing the deduction but not charging a penalty.

And he told him of another sales person in the same predicament, who said he had the records and came back for a second visit with a small booklet, one of those notebooks with flowers on the cover, in which he had recorded all his odometer readings.

The auditor noted that, while there were, for instance, coffee stains on a few pages to suggest wear, there were only four or five colors of ink, which might be consistent with keeping a few pens in the car. Then he flipped the book closed and glanced at the back, where he noted that all these fastidious odometer readings from two years ago had been recorded in a booklet whose design was copyrighted the current year.

He didn’t mention it. He just went back through the guy’s entire return and picked out every tiny, fussy error, charging him full interest and penalties for each one.

So here’s one more piece of tax advice: Don’t mess with these people. They don’t like it.

You probably shouldn’t mess with cops, either, for roughly the same reason, but this Garth German cartoon cracked me up.

And speaking of an average of 0.25%, that’s about the rate at which I believe people’s stories about the clever way they wriggled out of traffic tickets.

Still, I’d love to see some pregnant woman argue this one in a Florida or Texas courtroom.

While the anti-Biden crowd is wondering why the federal government is rebuilding the Francis Scott Key Bridge and assuming they won’t be looking for some repayment from those responsible for the disaster, Mike Smith (KFS) asks an intelligent question.

It’s somewhat asked-and-answered, given the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act — which the administration is calling “the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal” — which is precisely targeted towards updating our aging infrastructure.

Ballotopedia notes that it includes “$40 billion in new funding for bridge repair, replacement, and rehabilitation,” which is a good thing, and that it was indeed bipartisan, though moreso in the Senate than in the House, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Not, mind you, that having voted against the bill kept several Republicans from joyously taking credit for the funding in their home states.

One potential investment, to further address Smith’s concern, being structures to act as bumpers and prevent ship collisions from taking down other critical bridges.

One aspect of infrastructure that seems to have gotten away from us, Jen Sorensen suggests, is the purity of our food supply.

Some of that can be somewhat controlled, given, for example, that the Infrastructure Act provides for modernizing water lines. We’ve heard about lead in poor neighborhoods, but replacing old pipes is a much wider health issue.

The roads here have been torn up for more than a year putting in new mains and sewer pipes, which is good, but we’ve got major PFAS issues and that effects well water, too.

However, we can replace coal with wind or water.

Not sure what to do about the armed crazies.

Cleaning the air gets its own pushback. This Lisa Benson (Counterpoint) cartoon triggered a ping in my mind. I’d just mentioned Beatlemania, which, along with long hair in general, prompted a lot of stupid jokes from old farts.

For instance.

Now we’re seeing some of the same phenomenon about electric vehicles. I like intelligent discussions of developments, advantages and barriers, but a lot of what I’m seeing is just dismissive, heel-dragging wiseassery, as opponents criticize and ridicule the change from petroleum to electricity.

Main difference being that the people who made Brylcreem, Vitalis and Wildroot weren’t dispensing disinformation about long hair. They were dispensing disinformation about short hair.

Anyway, rebellion was more fun than destroying the planet.

5 thoughts on “CSotD: April Showers of Whatever

  1. In 2022, Brandy Bottone, a 32-year-old woman from Plano, Texas, received two traffic tickets for driving in an HOV lane while pregnant. Bottone argued that her unborn child should be counted as a second passenger, giving her the right to use the HOV lane. She told Dallas deputies that her fetus counted as a living person and a second passenger. Bottone said she was not trying to make a political statement. Both tickets were dismissed. Not to be out done, in August 2023, two bills were introduced in the Texas Legislature nicknamed “the Brandy bills.” Both would permit pregnant women to drive in an HOV lane.

  2. I seem to remember a California woman trying that dodge. The court offered to change the charge to having two people behind the wheel.

    BTW, PFAS affects well water.

  3. Mike wrote: I like intelligent discussions
    I reply: I strongly agree. I have been pushing for more intelligent and more civilized discussion for years in many arenas. I despise the trolls and their ad hominem, meaningless, illogical drivel.

    Also, the efforts to improve our planetary health should be much more thoroughly analyzed before implementation, rather than being hijacked by corporate greed and their rush to profit regardless of the consequences. (I’m pointing my finger at you Boeing and you elongated muskrat) As an example, there are much better and more ecologically responsible battery technologies than lithium. And, the corp. greed creating ONLY huge, overweight, and thus less efficient and ridiculously expensive Electric Vehicles is irresponsible.

  4. P.S. Mike, you hit another bulls-eye with Mimi and Richard Farina. I’m sure you are familiar with Ian and Sylvia, too. (yes, I was a folk singer in the 1960s and I’m that old)

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