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The Inflation Reduction Act

Trying to save a few bucks, I mailed my 2020 Federal tax return rather than transmitting it electronically.  That was a mistake. The Internal Revenue Service did not receive it, or so they say.

I mailed a second copy and received a letter months later requesting supporting documents, which I provided, attached to another copy of my tax return.

Months went by again.

Then last fall, the agency again requested the same supporting documents. Wash, rinse, repeat.

It’s been months since, and I’m still waiting for my refund.

I’m not the only one.

At the end of May, the National Taxpayer Advocate reported the IRS having d a backlog of 21.3 million unprocessed paper tax returns, an increase of 1.3 million over the same time last year.

The IRS’s tardiness shouldn’t be surprising. It is the result of Republicans using the agency, as it does other democratic institutions, to trample the people’s will.

Since 2010, GOP-led budget cuts have slashed the agency’s funding by 20 percent, which is why the massive climate, health care and tax bill the Senate passed today included $80 billion in additional IRS funding.

The bill, known as the Inflation Reduction Act, aims to beef up tax collection and enforcement on corporations and high-income earners, relieve the tax burden on low-income taxpayers and generate funding for clean energy investments.

Such outcomes will require the IRS to reverse its decades-long, Republican-led campaign to pummel low-income earners while promoting corporations and high-income earners.

A 2018 article by ProPublica outlined how Republicans, in their rage against Obama, aka the Affordable Care Act, began gutting IRS funding to scuttle the health care law.

According to the article, the Republican’s onslaught at the time shaved at least $18 billion annually in IRS funding, with the “working poor” bearing the brunt of the cuts.

The article noted that the “IRS oversees one of the government’s largest anti-poverty programs, the earned income tax credit, which provides cash to the working poor.”

“Under continued pressure from Republicans, the IRS has long made a priority of auditing people who receive that money, and as the IRS has shrunk, those audits have consumed even more resources, accounting for 36 percent of audits last year,” the article read.

There is little doubt that a robust IRS is essential to the inflation reduction bill achieving its intended goals, and Democrats hope the extra funding will help right the ship.

But the legislation’s success will likely depend on what happens at the ballot box this fall.

No Senate Republicans voted for the Inflation Reduction Act, just as none of them voted for the Accordable Care Act, which according to the Department of Health and Human Services, led to “historic advancement of health equity in the United States.”

One can be sure that if Republicans regain control of congress in upcoming elections, they will again use the agency to throttle the effectiveness of the Inflation Reduction Act.

Unfortunately, unlike the Affordable Care Act, which proved itself over the long run, time is not on the side of the current legislation.

By now, we are accustomed to Democrats taking the country one step forward and Republicans taking it two-step backward.

Another Republican retrenchment, however, could kill any hope of successfully combatting the clear and present dangers threatening our way of life.

Editor’s note: I reached out to the local IRS office last week, and it assured me the department received my 2020 return. However, my refund ETA was still up in the air because of the enormous backlog. I did receive my 2021 refunds, the return for which I had transmitted electronically.

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