Some Good News

NewsMax is reporting today that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has reversed its position on granting tax-exempt status to a group called “Christians Engaged.”

The article reports:

The action came after numerous Republican lawmakers rebuked the agency for overt political bias last month after it had first denied the status to Christians Engaged.

“The IRS has granted tax exempt status to Christians Engaged, a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers Christians to pray for our nation and elected officials, vote, and be civically engaged,” the conservative legal group First Liberty Institute announced in a statement.

“The reversal comes after a national backlash against the IRS’s initial rejection of Christians Engaged’s nonprofit status because, the IRS claimed, “[B]ible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates.”

Lea Patterson, counsel for the First Liberty Institute, applauded the move.

“This is truly great news for our client, as well as religious organizations and churches across America. We are grateful the IRS changed course to bring its decision into line with the Constitution and its own regulations,” she said.

Christians Engaged had appealed the IRS’ initial ruling with help from the First Liberty Institute.

When the IRS denied the tax-exempt status, they claimed that because the group followed Biblical teachings, it was too closely aligned with the Republican party. It is not the fault of any religious group that the Democrat platform does not align with Biblical teachings! The Bible is apolitical–it is God’s guide to a better life. The fact that the principles in the Bible work and may align more closely with one particular political party is totally irrelevant!

When The Cancel Culture Meets The Internal Revenue Service

Yesterday The Epoch Times posted an article about a recent decision by the Internal Revenue Service regarding the tax-exempt status of a religious organization.

The article reports:

An IRS official denied tax-exempt status to a Texas group that encourages church members to pray for state and national leaders, regardless of their party affiliation, because it benefits “the private interests of the [Republican] Party.”

“You do not qualify as an organization described in IRS Section 501(c)(3). You engage in prohibited political campaign intervention,” wrote Stephen A. Martin, director of the IRS Office of Exempt Organizations Rulings and Agreements, in a May 18 letter (pdf) to Christians Engaged, the Garland, Texas-based prayer group recognized by Texas officials as tax-exempt.

“You are also not operated exclusively for one or more exempt purposes within the meaning of Section 501 (c)(3), because you operate for a substantial non-exempt private purpose and for the private interests of the D party.”

The “D party” is a reference to the Republican Party, according to a novel “legend” that Martin provided at the top of his letter to the Texas group.

The article then explains:

Martin also noted that the group’s activities “educate believers on national issues that are central to their belief in the Bible as the inerrant Word of God.

“Specifically, you educate Christians on what the Bible says in areas where they can be instrumental, including the areas of sanctity of life, the definition of marriage, biblical justice, freedom of speech, defense, and borders and immigration, U.S. and Israel relations,” he wrote.

“The Bible teachings are typically affiliated with the D party and candidates. This disqualifies you from exemption under IRS Section 501(c)(3).”

The D party in this case refers to the Republican party. This is a blatant attempt to keep Christian values (and those who hold them) out of the public discourse. It is a violation of the First Amendment rights of the group and should be treated as such.

The article includes the following:

First Liberty Institute is appealing Martin’s decision on behalf of Christians Engaged.

“The IRS states in an official letter that Biblical values are exclusively Republican. That might be news to President Joe Biden, who is often described as basing his political ideology on his religious beliefs,” First Liberty Institute counsel Lea Patterson said in the statement.

“Only a politicized IRS could see Americans who pray for their nation, vote in every election, and work to engage others in the political process as a threat. The IRS violated its own regulations in denying tax-exempt status because Christians Engaged teaches biblical values.”

The IRS believes that Biblical values are exclusively Republican. Wow. Considering the role that Biblical views played in the founding of our nation, that idea should send Americans to the polls to vote for Republicans. Stay tuned. I suspect we haven’t heard the last of this.

Fudging The Numbers (As Usual)

Townhall posted an article today about President Biden’s plan to pay for his massive spending programs. He plans to close the gap between what taxpayers legally owe and what the IRS actually takes in.

The article reports:

Commissioner Rettig’s testimony appeared to provide groundbreaking new information that the tax gap has reached $1 trillion, with major media outlets like the New York Times taking this statement as gospel — even though it’s nearly three times what had been previously estimated by the IRS. Rettig’s statements were soon followed by a plan from Biden to raise $780 billion over the next decade by spending $80 billion on increased enforcement.

But the context of Rettig’s statements show that it was not a new agency estimate. Rettig was asked by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) to state his “personal opinion” on the size of the tax gap, and responded by saying that “it would not be outlandish to believe” that the tax gap “could approach or possibly even exceed $1 trillion.” Note also that the IRS Commissioner made this statement while trying to secure increased agency funding.

While this statement may be interesting, to portray it as equivalent to an official IRS estimate is absurd. Less than two years ago, the IRS estimated that, after factoring in enforcement and late payments, the net tax gap was $381 billion. Clearly the gap hasn’t more than doubled in just over 18 months.

The article notes that increased funding of the Internal Revenue Service would bring in some additional revenue, but nowhere near what is needed:

The government’s official budgetary scorekeeper, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), does believe that some additional revenue could be raised by increasing tax enforcement spending. But the CBO estimates that increasing IRS funding by $40 billion would increase collections by just $103 billion over ten years. Based on that, the Administration’s claim that it could raise $700 billion on net is ludicrous.

The article concludes:

All of this means that closing the tax gap is not as simple as grabbing revenue the IRS thus far simply has not bothered to collect. It would cost money and would end up targeting a broad swath of taxpayers, not just the wealthiest. That means auditors combing through the lives of thousands of Americans, many of whom would be lower income. And it would probably yield far less than Americans are being led to believe.

Biden’s promises of easy revenue from tax cheats are overblown at best. While enforcing owed tax payments isn’t inherently bad, throwing more money at the problem than the IRS would know what to do with is impulsive and wasteful.

Has anyone considered that the way to cut the deficit might be to examine the budget for wasteful spending (and end earmarks again)?

Is This Part Of Our Future?

Reparations has been discussed in political circles for a while now. So far no one has explained how to make reparations to families of slaves, but not to the families whose loved ones died freeing the slaves. Do people who weren’t here before 1860 have to pay reparations? Do people whose ancestors were indentured servants get reparations too? There are an awful lot of unanswered questions.

On April 5th, The New York Sun posted a very interesting article on reparations.

The article poses an interesting question:

Could a racial priority for getting a Covid-19 vaccine turn out to be just the first stop on the way to race-based tax rates?

A tax bill that varies depending on the taxpayer’s race might strike readers as some law professor’s remote fantasy, far from anything that might become reality.

Things are developing more quickly on this front, though, than is widely recognized.

Just this month, the governor of Vermont, Phil Scott, a Republican, attracted attention when he announced, “If you or anyone in your household identifies as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color (BIPOC), including anyone with Abenaki or other First Nations heritage, all household members who are 16 years or older can sign up to get a vaccine!”

A Reason article notes that in December 2020, while Republican Donald Trump was still president, the federal Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it would prioritize Black, Hispanic, Native American, and Asian veterans in vaccine distribution. Reason cites the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson as describing these schemes as unconstitutional, a violation of the “equal protection” clause of the 14th Amendment.

The article reports:

“Prediction: By tax year 2024, Americans will be asked to indicate their race on the Form 1040,” tweeted Scott Greenberg, a former analyst at the Tax Foundation who now writes about tax policy in a Substack newsletter called “No Withholding.”

Greenberg was reacting to a tax-policy reporter for the Wall Street Journal, Richard Rubin, who had flagged the news that the Biden administration had put the Treasury department’s top tax-policy official on an “equitable data working group.”

According to the Biden executive order, “Many Federal datasets are not disaggregated by race, ethnicity, gender, disability, income, veteran status, or other key demographic variables. This lack of data has cascading effects and impedes efforts to measure and advance equity. A first step to promoting equity in Government action is to gather the data necessary to inform that effort.”

The Census provides plenty of race-based income and poverty data, but the IRS has not done so. That surprises even some savvy observers. Kai Ryssdal, of the public radio show “Marketplace,” devoted a recent segment to an interview with Dorothy Brown. A law professor at Emory, Ms. Brown is the author of “The Whiteness of Wealth: How the Tax System Impoverishes Black Americans — And How We Can Fix It.”

Isn’t it interesting that the same Democrat party that fought so hard against civil rights legislation is still working hard to divide Americans by race. \

The article concludes:

The tax code already rewards or punishes all sorts of behaviors — home-ownership, say, or marriage and child-rearing, retirement saving, even electric-vehicle purchasing. In that context, a reparations credit seems less exceptional than it otherwise might.

There are plenty of potential downsides other than the constitutional obstacles. Yet those taxpayers who think Form 1040 is already complex enough, thank you, without adding race to the mix might want to get their arguments in order lest they find themselves, in some future tax season, in the IRS equivalent of the back of the vaccine line.

Let’s hope that if reparations through the IRS ever takes place, the Supreme Court shoots it down immediately.

This Might Be A Really Good Year To Make Sure Your Taxes Are Filed Accurately

In November, Accounting Today posted an article reporting that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) plans to ramp up audits of smaller businesses and their investors by about 50 percent next year, following years of persistently low examination rates, an agency official said Tuesday.

The article reports:

“The IRS is focusing our efforts to increase compliance activity in this area of not only partnerships, but also investor returns related to pass-throughs,” De Lon Harris, the IRS deputy commissioner of examination for small businesses, said at an American Institute of Certified Public Accountants event. For 2021 “we are planning for 50 percent more than we had in the previous year.”

Pass-through entities, which include partnerships, limited-liability companies and sole-proprietorships, are incredibly difficult for the IRS to audit because they frequently have complex structures that can involve dozens of inter-related entities. Pass-throughs don’t pay taxes themselves, but “pass” along the profits and tax liabilities to investors — who then pay the taxes on their individual returns.

The article concludes:

The IRS is hiring 50 more specialized auditors to work these cases, with the aim of having them in place by February, Harris said. The IRS can select returns to audit that are up to three years old. If the agency finds significant problems in a taxpayer’s filings, the auditors can examine returns that are even older.

New audit procedures that Congress approved in 2015 mean that the IRS can more easily collect any underpaid taxes it finds during the audit. Instead of having to track down each investor, the IRS can now collect the money from the partnership itself.

File your taxes carefully!

A Subtle Way To Infringe On A Constitutional Right

“America’s 1st Freedom” is a magazine distributed by the National Rifle Association. I am not including a link to the article I am posting about because I can’t find the article electronically although it is in the April 2020 issue of the magazine.

The title of the article is “The New Gun-Control Activism.” It deals with the strategy those who oppose the right of Americans to own guns are using to limit the availability of guns to Americans.

The article notes:

Last year, for example, Connecticut State Treasurer Shawn Wooden, who commands $37 billion in public pension funds, announced plans to pull $30 million worth of shares from civilian firearm manufacturer securities. Wooden also intends to prohibit similar investments in the future and to establish incentives for banks and financial institutions to adopt anti-gun protocols. The proposition was immediately praised by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and other Connecticut politicians who view the divestment from five companies–Clarus Corp., Daicel Corp., Vista Outdoor Inc., Olin Corp., and ammunition maker Northrop Grumman–as a step toward reducing gun violence.

…Wooden also requested that financial bodies disclose their gun-related portfolios when endeavoring to wok with the treasurer’s office. Wooden subsequently selected tow firms, Citibank and Rick Financial Product (both had expressed the desire to be part of the “solution on gun violence”), to take on the roll of senior bankers in Connecticut’s then-forthcoming $890 million general obligation bond sale.

Technically I guess this is legal. It is a very subtle infringement on the Second Amendment and would be very difficult to prove in court. It is also not a new approach. During the Obama administration, the administration put in place guidelines that prevented gun dealers from getting business loans from banks.

On May 19, 2014, The New American reported:

Following the Obama administration’s “Operation Broken Trust,” an operation that began just months into his first term, the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force was created initially to “root out and expose” investment scams. After bringing 343 criminal and 189 civil cases, the task force began looking for other targets.

The task force is a gigantic interagency behemoth, involving not only the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI, but also the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the U.S. Postal Service, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), and the U.S. Secret Service.

The next target for the task force was credit card payment processors, such as PayPal, along with porn shops and drug paraphernalia stores. In 2011, it expanded its list of “high risk” businesses to include gun shops. Peter Weinstock, an attorney with Hunton & Williams, explained:

This administration has very clearly told the banking industry which customers they feel represent “reputational risk” to do business with….

Any companies that engage in any margin of risk as defined by this administration are being dropped.

In 2012, Bank of America terminated its 12-year relationship with McMillan Group International, a gun manufacturer in Phoenix, and American Spirit Arms in Scottsdale. Said Joe Sirochman, owner of American Spirit Arms:

At first, it was the bigger guys — gun parts manufacturers or high-profile retailers. Now the smaller mom-and-pop shops are being choked out….

They need their cash [and credit lines] to buy inventory. Freezing their assets will put them out of business.

That’s the whole point, according to Kelly McMillan:

This is an attempt by the federal government to keep people from buying guns and a way for them to combat the Second Amendment rights we have. It’s a covert way for them to control our right to manufacture guns and individuals to buy guns.

With the Obama administration unable to foist its gun control agenda onto American citizens frontally, this is a backdoor approach that threatens the very oxygen these businesses need to breathe. Richard Riese, a senior VP at the American Bankers Association, expanded on the attack through the banks’ back doors:

We’re being threatened with a regulatory regime that attempts to foist on us the obligation to monitor all types of transactions.

All of this is predicated on the notion that the banks are a choke point for all businesses.

How you vote matters.

I Guess We Haven’t Entirely Cleaned Up The Internal Revenue Service

Bay City News posted an article today with the following headline: “IRS analyst charged with leaking Michael Cohen bank records.” What was leaked was a bank report of suspicious activity. IRS investigative analyst John Fry, 54, was charged in federal court in San Francisco on Feb. 4 with leaking information about Michael Cohen’s (formerly President Trump’s personal attorney) bank records. Michael Avenatti, a lawyer for adult film actress Stormy Daniels, posted those records online. An employee of the IRS has stated that Fry talked with Avenatti the day before the records were posted online.

The crime that John Fry is charged with carries a jail sentence of five years if he is committed.

It is time that all of the people in government who are using their positions for political purposes or personal gain were removed. If the IRS cannot clean up its act, it needs to be put out of business.

The Wrong People Are Paying For This

On January 11th, The Daily Signal posted the following article, “Conservative Groups Targeted in Lois Lerner’s IRS Scandal Receive Settlement Checks.”

The article reports:

The federal government in recent days has been issuing settlement checks to 100 right-of-center groups wrongfully targeted for their political beliefs under the Obama administration’s Internal Revenue Service, according to an attorney for the firm that represented plaintiffs in NorCal v. United States.

Three of the claimants in the $3.5 million national class-action suit are based in the Badger State.

“This is really a groundbreaking case. Hopefully it sets a precedent and will serve as a warning to government officials who further feel tempted to discriminate against U.S. citizens based on their viewpoints,” Edward Greim, attorney for Kansas City, Missouri-based Graves Garrett LLC told MacIver News Service.

Most of the claimants will each receive a check for approximately $14,000, Greim said. Five conservative groups that were integrally involved in the lawsuit get a bonus payment of $10,000 each, the attorney said.

About $2 million of the settlement goes to cover the legal costs of five long years of litigation. IRS attorneys attempted delay after delay, objection after objection, trying to use the very taxpayer protection statutes the plaintiffs were suing under to suppress documents.

The agency has admitted no wrongdoing in what a federal report found to be incidents of intrusive inspections of organizations seeking nonprofit status. Greim has said the seven-figure settlement suggests otherwise.

Folks, these checks are coming out of our tax dollars. As taxpayers we are paying for the corruption in the IRS during the Obama administration.

The article continues:

Disgraced former bureaucrat Lois Lerner led the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt groups. A 2013 inspector general’s report found the IRS had singled out conservative and tea party organizations for intense scrutiny, oftentimes simply based on their conservative-sounding or tea party names. The IRS delayed for months, even years, the applications, and some groups were improperly questioned about their donors and their religious affiliations and practices.

Lerner claims she did nothing wrong. In clearing her of wrongdoing, an Obama administration Department of Justice review described Lerner as a hero. But she invoked her Fifth Amendment right in refusing to answer questions before a congressional committee. The plaintiffs in the class-action lawsuit took the first and only deposition of Lerner, a document that the former IRS official and her attorneys have fought to keep sealed.

“At one level, it’s hard to even assess a dollar amount to what they did, it’s so contrary to what we think our bureaucrats in Washington should be doing. It boggles the mind,” Greim said.

This was an egregious violation of free speech and disregard for the law, and no one actually was held accountable. That is sad.

One Consequence Of Illegal Immigration

Yesterday Breitbart posted an article about one aspect of illegal immigration–identity theft.

The article reports:

During an interview with SiriusXM Patriot’s Breitbart News Tonight, executive director of the Immigration Reform Law Insitute (IRLI) Dale Wilcox revealed to Breitbart News Senior Editor-at-Large Rebecca Mansour that their latest investigation revealed 39 million cases between 2012 and 2016 where names on W-2 tax forms did not match corresponding Social Security records.

If each fraudulent Social Security Number user submitted only one W-2 form a year under a fake identity, this still amounts to nearly ten million individuals using stolen identities of American citizens. There are more than 12 million illegal aliens currently living in the United States.

Wilcox said American children are the most vulnerable to illegal aliens stealing their identities and using their Social Security Numbers to work in the country.

“Studies have found that it affects children the most because see illegal aliens prefer to use children’s’ Social Security Numbers because your child … won’t apply for a loan for years, so the illegal aliens probably won’t be caught for decades possibly,” Wilcox said.

“A lot of Americans are being harmed by this. These poor kids, when they go to get their first school loan or car loan, they’ve got criminal histories … and bad credit,” Wilcox said. “This is not a victimless crime.”

I know someone whose social security number was used by an illegal alien. The theft of the number was discovered when the person went to file his income taxes. Thankfully the Internal Revenue Service realized what was going on and solved the problem by issuing the person a special PIN number that they now have to use when they file their taxes. This prevents their taxes from being mixed up with any taxes filed by the person who stole their social security number. This is something that would not happen if we were to gain control of our borders and institute a reasonable immigration policy that would be fair to both Americans and people who want to come to America.

The problem with passing immigration reform is that big business pays off the Republicans in Congress and Democrats believe they can persuade the illegal immigrants to vote for Democrats as soon as they are citizens (and unfortunately before they are citizens in some cases). If either party wanted to solve the illegal immigration problem, it would have been solved by now. Democrats had the White House, the House and the Senate for two years under President Obama, and Republicans currently have the White House, the House and the Senate. Although there are some Republicans who would support immigration reform if given the chance, they are outnumbered by those receiving large campaign contributions from corporate interests who want cheap labor. The only way we will have secured borders and sane immigration policies is to vote out those politicians in both parties who are blocking any legislation on the matter.

Only Monitoring The Lawbreakers–Not Arresting Them

CNS News posted an article on Friday about identity theft in America.

The article reports:

The Internal Revenue Service in 2011 through 2016 documented more than 1.3 million cases of identity theft perpetrated by illegal aliens whom the IRS had given Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN), which are only given to people who are ineligible to work in the United States or receive Social Security Numbers, according to information published by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

However, in response to inquiries from CNSNews.com, the IRS could not say if it had referred even one of these cases for criminal prosecution.

Imagine how you would feel if you were one of the people whose identity had been stolen–would you want the person prosecuted?

The article reminds us that using a fake or stolen Social Security is a felony.

The article includes a picture of the types of identity theft involved:

The article further reports:

A January 2004 TIGTA report said: “The IRS Office of Chief Counsel determined that, ‘the group of persons with United States federal tax obligations who are not eligible to obtain an SSN is limited to non-citizens who either do not reside in the United States or reside here illegally.”

In 1999, TIGTA released a report warning that with its ITIN program the IRS had embraced a policy to “‘legalize’ illegal aliens” that “increases the potential for fraud.”

In a follow-up report in 2004, TIGTA concluded that ITIN holders who filed tax returns using a Social Security Number were in fact illegal aliens.

“Our conclusion is that, generally, the individuals who file a United States (U.S.) Individual Income Tax Return (Form 1040) with an ITIN as the identification number and receive wages that are identified with a Social Security Number (SSN) on the attached Wage and Tax Statements (Form W-2) are unauthorized resident aliens,” said TIGTA.

Then-Deputy IRS Commissioner Mark Matthews responded to this TIGTA report by conceding that ITIN holders who filed tax returns reporting wages earned in the United States were likely to be illegal aliens and that if they used a SSN it was “stolen or fabricated.”

“The Service has concluded that most resident aliens who hold ITINs and who report and pay tax from wage income are not legally employed in the United States,” he told TIGTA in a memo. “This is because such a taxpayer would have a valid SSN if the holder were legally employed in the United States, making procurement of an ITIN unnecessary and duplicative.”

The article explains the process for dealing with identity theft:

When it notifies victims of employment identity theft, the IRS does not tell the victim the name of the person who stole their identity. The notification form it used in its pilot program told the victim: “Federal law prevents us from providing specific details regarding the identity of the individual who used your SSN for employment purposes.”

However, the IRS can refer identity theft cases to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution.

So, how many of the 1,346,485 cases of employment-related identity theft the IRS documented in 2011 through 2016 did it refer to DOJ? How many of the 1,227,579 cases in 2017 where an ITIN holder used an SSN that was fabricated or had not been issued to them did the IRS refer to DOJ?

The IRS’s Criminal Investigation division publishes an annual report stating how many “prosecution recommendations” it makes each fiscal year and the crimes for which it makes them. In the six fiscal years from 2011 through 2016, according to these reports, IRS CI made 20,986 prosecution recommendations and 4,329 of them were for identity theft cases.

If everyone one of these identity theft prosecution recommendations had been for a case of employment identity theft—rather than refund-fraud identity theft—that would have equaled 0.3 percent of the 1,346,485 ITIN-holder cases the IRS documented in those years.

It seems to me that we should prosecute these cases and send those committing the crimes back to their home countries. It sounds as if our government is not at all interested in protecting Americans from identity theft.

Some Thoughts On The FISA Court

The following video from One America News was posted at YouTube on Friday:

What happened during the end of the Obama Administration was a violation of the Fourth Amendment rights of American citizens by the abuse of a secret court. It is the obligation of the government to insure that never happens again. The surveillance of the Trump campaign and transition team makes the wiretapping engaged in by the Watergate burglars look like child’s play. The use of government agencies for political purposes was something that happened more than once in the Obama Administration–the IRS was eventually forced to pay fines to the conservative organizations it refused to grant tax-exempt status to. The purpose of not granting the tax-exempt status was to silence organizations engaging in conservative speech during the 2012 elections. Regardless of where you stand on the political spectrum, that is a dangerous thing. Remember, it is always possible that someday the shoe will be on the other foot. If we don’t end the practice of using the government against people who disagree with us now, it will not end.

Preparing For The New Tax Bill

Newsmax posted an article today explaining how some taxpayers in high tax states can prepare for the changes in their deductions that will occur in the coming year.

The article explains:

Homeowners will be allowed to pre-pay their 2018 state and local real estate property taxes before the end of the year and deduct them on their 2017 returns only under limited circumstances, the Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday.

The announcement comes after many homeowners in states with the highest property taxes rushed to prepay their 2018 property taxes in hopes of saving on their federal taxes since the deduction will be scaled back in the tax law passed by Republicans last week.

The IRS in its statement said taxpayers can claim an additional property tax deduction on their 2017 returns if taxes are assessed and paid for before the end of the year. Some states and localities allow people to prepay their state and local taxes, including property taxes, but other states and localities that don’t will have to interpret exactly what that means for their residents.

Under the recently passed tax bill, residents in states with high taxes will be limited to $10,000 in state tax deductions. When you consider that some residents of New York, New Jersey, California and certain other states may pay as much as $30,000 in property taxes, that will be a significant change. What this change means to the people in states with reasonable taxes is that the residents of those states will no longer be subsidizing the people who live in high tax states. That is actually a more equitable system–even if the people in the high tax states don’t appreciate the change!

How Does This Math Work?

CNS News posted an article today detailing which Americans pay our taxes under the current tax code. Please follow the link to article and read all of the statistics. It is amazing that America has prospered at all under this warped tax code.

The article reports:

Of the 150,493,263 filers who submitted individual income tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service for the 2015 tax year, only 99,040,729 paid any income tax at all.

Together, those Americans paid a record $1,457,891,441,000 in total income taxes — for an average of $14,720 per taxpayer.

The other 51,452,534 — or about 34.2 percent of all filers — did not pay a penny. Their average income tax payment was $0.

This is a fundamental divide in the American tax system. On one side are those who do pay taxes; on the other, those who don’t.

It gets worse:

So who paid the taxes the federal government needed to send that $89,614,669,000 to those 30,417,609 who paid no income tax?

One major contributor was a group the IRS calls “married persons filing jointly.”

In 2015, according to Table 1.2 in the IRS report, 54,294,820 belonged to this group — with 41,551,043 joining the side that did pay taxes, and 12,743,777 joining the side that did not.

Thus, while 34.2 percent of all filers paid no income taxes, only 23.5 percent of married couples filing jointly paid no income taxes.

The 41,551,043 married couples filing jointly who did pay income taxes accounted for only 27.6 percent of all 150,493,263 filers. But they made up about 42 percent of the 99,040,729 filers who did pay income taxes.

More tellingly, of the record $1,457,891,441,000 in total income taxes the IRS collected for tax year 2015, married couples filing jointly paid $1,040,684,097,000 of it — or about 71.4 percent.

So, married couples filing jointly constituted only 42 percent of filers who actually paid income taxes, but they paid 71.4 percent of the income taxes.

Obviously, this is a tax system that drastically needs to be overhauled. Hopefully the tax bill passed today represents that overhaul.

Preventing The Fleecing Of The Middle Class

The American tax code is a tribute to the effectiveness of lobbyists and big campaign donors. The loopholes in the code for people who make a lot of money are numerous. Even with loopholes in place, the rich pay a lot of taxes. As I have previously reported, The top 10 percent of income earners, those having an adjusted gross income over $138,031, pay about 70.6 percent of federal income taxes. About 1.7 million Americans, less than 1 percent of our population, pay 70.6 percent of federal income taxes. These numbers come from actual IRS data.

However, it seems that when it comes to eliminating loopholes, it’s always the middle class loopholes that go away.

Breitbart posted an article today about Congress‘ latest effort to take away a middle-class tax break. Because of a certain lack of faith in the future solvency of Social Security, many employers offer employees 401k retirement plans. Aside from allowing middle-class families to save for the future, these programs provide a place to put money so that it will not be taxed during the highest earning period of the employee. It will be taxed later at retirement when traditionally a person’s earnings are lower and generally taxed at a lower rate. Congress was evidently planning to alter the current system.

Breitbart reports:

“There will be NO change to your 401(k),” Trump tweeted. “This has always been a great and popular middle class tax break that works, and it stays!”

House Republicans were considering a plan to slash the amount of income American workers can save in tax-deferred retirement accounts. Currently, workers can put up to $18,000 a year into 401(k) accounts without paying taxes on that money until they retire and withdraw money from their savings. Proposals under discussion on Capitol Hill would set the cap lower, perhaps as low as $2,400. The effect would be a huge tax hike on middle class workers.

The plan to lower the cap on 401(k)’s would not have had an effect on long-term government deficits. Instead, it would have raised tax revenue now but lowered it in the future, since the retirement savings would already have been taxed. But taxing the savings would have had an impact on household budgets and may have discouraged workers from saving, increasing their future dependence on government benefits.

Let’s cut spending to ‘pay for’ tax cuts. Actually, if taxes are cut, economic growth should increase to a point where there is no loss of revenue. During the 1980’s, after President Reagan cut taxes, government revenue soared. Unfortunately, the Democrats who controlled Congress at the time greatly increased spending, so the government debt increased rather than decreased. Generally speaking, lowering taxes increases revenue–people are less inclined to look for tax shelters.

The Laffer Curve works:

Congress needs to keep this in mind while revising the tax code.

 

The Need For Fiscal Responsibility In Washington

Yesterday The Washington Times reported that the Internal Revenue Service was extremely generous with taxpayer money–paying millions of dollars in refunds to people who were not legally entitled to them.

The article reports:

The IRS doled out more than $24 billion in potentially bogus refunds claimed under several controversial tax credits in 2016, according to a new audit that said $118 million was even paid to people who weren’t authorized to work in the U.S. in the first place.

Some $16.8 billion in payments were made on improper claims under the Earned Income Tax Credit, signifying a 24 percent error rate. Investigators also estimated $7.2 billion in improper payments for the Additional Child Tax Credit, representing 25 percent of the total, and $1.1 billion in improper payments, or 24 percent, for a higher education tax credit.

The totals and error rates for the earned income and child credits were comparable for 2015, while the education tax credit saw improvement.

The article explains that Congress passed a law in 2015 that was supposed to curb payments to people who were not entitled to them.

The article reports:

Both the inspector general and the tax agency said that steps have already been taken to try to prevent a repeat in the future, saying that a law passed in late 2015 should help.

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration J. Russell George said the IRS needs to follow through on the 2015 law, which imposes more restrictions on certain filers and delays refunds for people claiming the credits to give agents more time to flag suspicious returns.

One particular problem the IRS faces is checking people who have Social Security numbers but who aren’t authorized to work in the U.S.

This is one place that the federal budget could be easily cut. Tax refunds should only go to the people entitled to receive them.

 

The Coming Battle Over Tax Reform

Tax cuts create economic growth. Government revenues soared to record levels during the Reagan Administration. Had Congress not gone wild with spending, we could have made serious progress on cutting our deficits. One of President Trump‘s campaign promises was to simplify the tax code and cut taxes. That is a fantastic idea that will encounter many obstacles. One of those obstacles is the federal deduction for state and local taxes, also known as the SALT deduction. The fight to eliminate this deduction is going to be brutal. Why? Because the SALT deduction essentially forces taxpayers in states with lower state taxes to subsidize taxpayers in states with higher state taxes. The states with ridiculous state taxes– for example California, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Massachusetts–face less opposition to tax increases when their voters know their state taxes can be deducted on their federal tax forms. Residents of high-tax states get a break on their federal income tax because of the high state taxes they pay.

The Wall Street Journal posted an article about this on June 22nd.

The article reports:

An often overlooked but critical feature of Mr. Trump’s tax-reform proposal gives Democrats the perfect opportunity to meet him at the bargaining table. When Mr. Trump introduced “the biggest individual and business tax cut in American history,” he said he would “eliminate targeted tax breaks”—including the federal deduction for state and local taxes. Also known as the SALT deduction, this $100 billion annual tax break to state and local governments has been on the books since 1913, even surviving Reagan tax reform. But this time, threatening the federal deduction may seal a tax deal for the GOP. Here’s why:

First, it’s hard for Democrats to argue that the tax reductions in Mr. Trump’s plan are budget-busters when killing the SALT deduction would add $1.3 trillion to federal coffers over a decade, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. That would pay for a lot of personal and business tax cuts, even without factoring in the faster growth that could pay for those cuts over time.

Second, Democrats can’t say Mr. Trump’s plan isn’t real reform. The SALT deduction is a distortive subsidy to states. It encourages them to raise taxes, because voters can deduct those higher taxes from their federal tax bill.

Third, there’s little in this for red states, because they generally have lower tax rates to begin with. Therefore, according to the Internal Revenue Service, blue states with higher tax rates receive about two-thirds of this break. In fact, half of the $100 billion tax break goes to six deep-blue states: California, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Democrats in favor of preserving the SALT deduction are simply self-interested.

There is no doubt that the SALT deduction is going to be a major bargaining chip when the discussions on tax reform begin. Stay tuned.

If You Notice Extra Income On Your Tax Forms…

The Washington Times posted a story yesterday about the problem of illegal aliens using social security numbers stolen from American citizens. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released its report Thursday stating that in 2015 there were potentially 1.4 million people likely affected by the the theft of their social security numbers.

Part of the problem lies within the government bureaucracy. The article reports:

The IRS knows of 2.4 million people a year who file taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, which is generally given out to immigrants who aren’t authorized to work. But the IRS is not allowed to talk with Homeland Security to help agents identify who and where those taxpayers are.

The migrants file their forms with their ITINs, but the W-2 forms they submit show valid Social Security numbers that they fraudulently gave to their employer to clear an initial work authorization check.

A staggering 87 percent of forms filed online using ITINs showed income credited to a Social Security number. More than half of forms filed by paper also showed that same fraudulent behavior.

The IRS tries to mark the files of the fraud victims when electronic filings are used. But the tax agency misses about half of the victims, the inspector general said.

For paper forms, the IRS did even worse, the audit found.

The tax agency, in its official reply to the report, insisted it takes identity theft “very seriously.”

Kenneth C. Corbin, commissioner of the IRS’s wage and investment division, said it has just completed a pilot program to figure out how to notify taxpayers they’re the victims of fraud.

The inspector general submitted recommendations with his report, by the IRS says its resources are too small to implement all of those recommendations. If you will excuse a personal gripe here, the IRS had enough resources to audit me the year I made a donation to the Tea Party. Nothing on our taxes had changed, and it was the first time my husband and I had been audited in 40+ years. I think the resources to solve the problem of stolen social security numbers could be found if the desire were there.

Bringing The Federal Budget Under Control

The Washington Examiner reported yesterday that one of the steps President Trump will be taking to help balance the budget next year will be reining in tax payments to illegal immigrants.

The article reports:

Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget, set to be released Tuesday, will set higher eligibility standards for the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said Monday. According to the administration, the measures will save $40 billion over 10 years.

In May 2014, The Washington Examiner reported:

The Treasury Department has released its latest report on the fight against widespread fraud in the Earned Income Tax Credit program. The problem is, fraud is still winning. And there’s not even much of a fight.

“The Internal Revenue Service continues to make little progress in reducing improper payments of Earned Income Tax Credits,” a press release from Treasury’s inspector general for Tax Administration says. “The IRS estimates that 22 to 26 percent of EITC payments were issued improperly in Fiscal Year 2013. The dollar value of these improper payments was estimated to be between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion.”

There is no reason to continue funding tax fraud.

The article concludes:

Some anti-illegal immigration groups have said that allowing workers to claim credits without providing a Social Security number amounts to paying illegal immigrants to stay in the country. Conservative lawmakers also have favored tightening the restrictions as a matter of fiscal conservatism.

Liberal groups, though, argue that illegal immigrants pay taxes, such as payroll taxes for Social Security, for which they won’t get benefits. More generally, the low-income tax credits generally benefit needy families, even if they technically did not qualify for the benefits they received.

Why are we running huge budget deficits to pay benefits to people who are not eligible to receive them? This doesn’t make sense to me. It would be nice to see that change.

Why Many Democrats Will Hate President Trump’s Tax Plan

One of the features of the tax plan proposed by President Trump is the elimination of all itemized deductions except for the mortgage deduction and the charitable giving deduction. Keeping these deductions makes sense. Home ownership produces pride in neighborhoods, helps stabilize our society, and actually helps people achieve financial success. Charitable giving is actually one of the traits of Americans. I have had people from foreign countries who have spent time in America tell me that they are amazed at the willingness of Americans to give or to help in an emergency. Keeping both of those deductions makes a lot of sense.

One deduction that will be eliminated is going to be fought by Democrats from some states with high income taxes. That is the deduction for state and local taxes. States like New York, Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts that have high income taxes or property taxes are currently being subsidized by the federal government. People who live in those states actually get a break on their federal taxes because their state taxes are so high. You can expect Senators and Representatives from the states listed above to protest loudly against this tax proposal. However, there may be some Democrats from smaller states that are tired of subsidizing the high tax states that will support it. The Democrats generally vote as a bloc, but because most Americans support tax reform, it will be interesting to see if all of them are willing to take a suicide plunge.

Another thing to watch in the reporting of this tax plan is the narrative. In the past, any time tax cuts are proposed, the Democrats begin their battle cry of ‘tax cuts for the rich.’ That battle cry and its previous success gave us eight years of a presidency where the GDP never reached 3 percent growth. At some point the American people are going to realize that the cry of ‘tax cuts for the rich’ has not helped those in the middle class. Salaries and home ownership rates have decreased during the past eight years. The poverty rate has increased and the number of Americans on food stamps has grown exponentially.

It is interesting that President Trump will be one of the people who will take a heavy hit in taxes if this proposal goes through. He will no longer be able to deduct the real estate taxes on the properties he owns in high tax states. He would probably fare better with the loopholes and deductions in the current tax plan. So much for ‘tax cuts for the rich.’

America’s current tax plan is a tribute to lobbyists. There are a lot of very wealthy special interest groups that do not want to see major changes in our current tax plan. Those groups will be very busy in the coming weeks. The only way to counter the negative spin that will be used to fight this tax plan is to email, call, write, or speak to your Senator or Representative to Congress and tell them that you support the changes proposed. It is time to simplify the tax code and to stop forcing lower tax states to subsidize higher tax states. This plan is something that will be good for most Americans and good for America.

Remember The IRS Scandal? It Just Got Worse

Yesterday The Washington Free Beacon posted an article about the IRS Scandal of targeting tea party groups and their members.

The article reports:

The Internal Revenue Service has located 6,924 documents potentially related to the targeting of Tea Party conservatives, two years after the group Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit for them.

The watchdog group intended to find records regarding how the IRS selected individuals and organizations for audits that were requesting nonprofit tax status.

The agency will not say when it will make the documents available to the public.

“At this time, the Service is unable to provide an estimate regarding when it will complete its review of the potentially responsive documents,” the agency said. “The Service will begin producing any non-exempt, responsive documents by March 10, 2017, and, if necessary, continue to produce non-responsive records on a bi-weekly basis.”

The IRS needs to be cleaned up from top to bottom. I am sure there are good people doing their job at the IRS, but it has become obvious that the agency has become politicized in recent years. The best solution would be to abolish the IRS and go to a use tax that did not require monitoring by the IRS.

Getting On Board With Building The Wall

Yesterday The Hill posted an article sharing some news about the wall Donald Trump plans to build on the southern border of America.

The article reports:

…The Hill reported late Tuesday that 225 companies — mainly construction and engineering firms — have voiced interest in building Trump’s proposed wall.

The list was compiled from a website for contractors interested in doing business with the federal government.

Contractors intrigued by the project have until March 10 to submit a prototype concept paper, followed by a formal request for proposal by March 24.

Interested parties so far include construction companies like Caddell and Raytheon, a top defense contractor.

A number of small businesses have also applied, including 20 owned by Hispanic-Americans who could come under scrutiny for helping create the structure.

…The Department of Homeland Security estimated last month that Trump’s could take 3.5 years to complete and cost up to $21.6 billion.

In November 2014, I reported:

“The Internal Revenue Service continues to make little progress in reducing improper payments of Earned Income Tax Credits,” a press release from Treasury’s inspector general for Tax Administration says. “The IRS estimates that 22 to 26 percent of EITC payments were issued improperly in Fiscal Year 2013. The dollar value of these improper payments was estimated to be between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion.”

Fixing that problem would provide a major portion of the cost of building the wall. I am sure there are other costs to illegal immigration that could also be eliminated to pay for the wall.

Ronald Reagan said it best:

“A nation that cannot control its borders is not a nation.”
Ronald Reagan

Some Thoughts On The Death Tax

The death tax is not designed to be a tax–it is designed to redistribute wealth. The money is taken from the people who earned it, goes to the government, and the government redistributes it to people who have not earned it. Another perspective might call it theft.

Yesterday Breitbart posted an article about the death tax. The article reported:

“It’s just wrong to work your whole life to build up a nest egg, build your own business–you pass away and Uncle Sam can swoop in and take away nearly half of everything you’ve earned,” because of the ‘Death Tax,’ said Rep. Kevin P. Brady (R.-Texas). “Can you imagine that? Having to sell off most of your land, just to keep it from the government, just to save the house,” he said.

“There are two new major threats to family-owned farms and businesses right now,” said Brady, who succeeded Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R.-Wis.) as the committee chairman when Ryan became the Speaker.

Number one is Hillary Clinton’s proposal to raise the death tax rate to 65 percent, which would be the highest rate since the 1980s,” he said. “At that point, you’re confiscating property and land and businesses,” he said.

“The other threat is the Obama administration’s Treasury Department rules that came put in August.” The new rules, called “valuation rules,” impose higher tax liabilities onto families trying to pass their businesses to family members, he said. It is as if the IRS decided to raise taxes on its own, he said.

The article explains the impact of the death tax in real terms:

Brady told Breitbart News he did not grow up in a wealthy family, so he did not understand the death tax and its impact until 1997, his first year in Congress. The moment came when a couple from his district came up to him and sketched out what the death tax had in store for them, their children and their nursery business.

The couple took out a piece of paper and sketched it out for him. “Just on a piece of paper, they wrote down how they had no debt, two or three kids were running the business and they basically showed me that if they could have enough money in life insurance and could go to the bank to borrow the money, they could keep their family business,” the chairman said.

The idea the family would have to exhaust its life insurance and then go into debt, just to keep its business going after paying off the death tax, he said, is “un-American, immoral and wrong.”

The money a family accumulates in a family business has already been taxed. That alone should preclude the government from taking any more of it! If nothing else, Hillary’s death tax will kill not only the family farm, but any successful family business.

Maybe Justice Will Be Done

I realize that I am not an impartial observer, but it seems to me that there are very different rules for democrats and republicans. Media bias right now is over the top, and the democratic party seems very willing to oppose voter identification laws that would play a role in preventing election fraud. One of the eye-opening events in recent years was the Internal Revenue Scandal (IRS) that specifically targeted conservative groups applying for tax exempt status. It was discovered that the IRS was targeting conservative groups, and the head of the IRS stepped down. However, there was some real question as to whether or not that targeting stopped. Evidently, it didn’t.

On Friday, The Wall Street Journal posted an article about a recent court decision regarding the IRS targeting of conservative groups.

The article reports:

A federal appeals court Friday revived a pair of lawsuits against the Internal Revenue Service stemming from the tea party targeting scandal.

The mixed ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit threw out claims for damages against the U.S. government and senior IRS officials sought by the conservative nonprofit plaintiffs.

But the appellate panel reversed a lower court that had dismissed the litigation entirely. The ruling expressed skepticism with IRS assurances that it was no longer subjecting conservative organizations to discriminatory treatment.

The decision Friday threw a lifeline to two lawsuits brought by dozens of conservative nonprofit groups, including Texas-based True the Vote, an advocate for stricter voter registration enforcement and voter identification requirements.

True the Vote discovered rampant voter fraud in Houston. The details are here. The fact that they were attacked does not say good things about the administration that targeted them.

The article further explains:

In 2013, the IRS apologized for improperly targeting conservative groups and said it had halted political screening of applications. But D.C. Circuit Judge David B. Sentelle, who wrote Friday’s opinion, said it was telling that the IRS had suspended the screening “until further notice.” Stated Judge Sentelle:

A violation of right that is “suspended until further notice” has not become the subject of voluntary cessation, with no reasonable expectation of resumption, so as to moot litigation against the violation of rights. Rather, it has at most advised the victim of the violation – “you’re alright for now, but there may be another shoe falling.”

The court said beyond the potential for more abuse, the IRS hadn’t ceased discriminatory conduct, noting that at least two tax-exempt applications submitted by plaintiffs were still pending.

That meant, in the judges’s view, that the case had not become “moot” as U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton had concluded in 2014 when he dismissed the lawsuits.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs said the ruling gives their cases a lifeline with an opportunity to dig for more evidence.

The IRS needs to be either done away with or cleaned up. Neither is likely under an Obama or Clinton administration. The attack on conservative groups was designed to silence their voices during the 2012 election. Although the attack has morphed into other areas, the attack has not ceased. Any American who depends on the mainstream media for their news is routinely told things that are not true or not told things that are true. The picture that the mainstream media is painting of both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are caricatures–they are not realistic images. Americans are responsible for the leaders they elect. However, there are forces at work that are attempting to prevent Americans from making informed choices in electing those leaders.

 

At Least Some Of The Internal Revenue Service Is Being Held Accountable

The Washington Examiner is reporting today that three IRS workers are facing prison time for defrauding the government. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration detailed the charges today.

The article reports:

Paul G. Hurley, who worked in Seattle, was found guilty of taking bribes from a part owner of a chain of recreational marijuana shops.

“Hurley seemed sympathetic to the taxpayer regarding the [Internal Revenue Code’s] prohibition against deductions and credits for businesses in the marijuana industry and talked about being unhappy at the IRS,” the watchdog said.

Hurley bragged about saving the business owner $1 million, and said he was living “paycheck to paycheck.”

“Initially, Hurley wanted the taxpayer to pay off his student loans in small amounts over time, but when the taxpayer declined, Hurley said he wanted cash,” the watchdog said. “Hurley and the taxpayer scheduled a time to meet several days later. Hurley told the taxpayer not to tell anyone, not even his business partner.”

Hurley took a $5,000 payment, and then a $15,000 payment from the business owner. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison, plus three years of probation.

Creshika Wise pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft back in May.

Wise was an IRS revenue agent in Atlanta, and developed a scheme to ensure that all or part of a $758,846 payment due to the IRS would go to herself.

Kimberley Brown-English was found guilty of six counts of preparing and filing false tax returns.

She was an IRS worker based in California, and in 2011 and 2012, she filed income tax returns “in which she falsely claimed two dependents, a parent and a nephew.”

“Neither of the individuals claimed as dependents had a familial relationship with Brown-English,” TIGTA said.

The IRS is one of the most powerful federal agencies in the country. They have amassed too much power and have become politicized. It is truly time for them to go.

Confirmation Of What We Already Knew

Kimberley Strassel has written a book entitled The Intimidation Game. The book details the attack on conservative speech by elected Democrats during the last two elections. She posted an article on NewsBusters today detailing some of what she discovered in writing the book. One of the more disturbing things detailed in the book is the attack on conservative (or Tea Party) groups through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The fact that no one was held accountable for this abuse of power is an indication that it is time to create a tax code that no longer requires the existence of the IRS. For whatever reason, we have reached the point where the IRS has become a political weapon. That is an indication that the IRS needs to go. In 1974, the Second Article of Impeachment of Richard Nixon read as follows:

He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavored to … cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.

How far we have fallen.

The article at NewsBusters reports:

So Lerner, the IRS, Obama—they were all correct that the targeting fiasco started with a “line agent” in Cincinnati. They just neglected to mention that within twenty-four hours of that agent’s alert—and every minute thereafter—it was political types in Washington running the show.

When Koester talked about “media interest,” he was undoubtedly referring to the wall-to-wall coverage that had just followed the Citizens United decision. He’d likely seen the White House’s furious reaction to the Court’s decision to free up speech rights, and Obama’s dressing-down of the Supremes. He’d likely seen the Democratic Party and its media allies bang on daily about the evils of conservative “nonprofits.” He’d likely taken in the nonstop stories about the Tea Party gearing up in opposition to Obama, and how they were rushing into the (c)(4) realm. And he likely knew those groups were having an effect. Only a month earlier, Scott Brown had won that Senate race, against all odds. Koester was a prime example of how an executive branch—and a political party—can drive a story and make the bureaucracy take notice.

We know that one person in particular took notice: an ambitious partisan by the name of Lois Lerner.

Lerner shocked Washington with her May 2013 admission that her agency had harassed Americans. The shocking thing was that anyone was shocked.

Lerner to this day won’t cooperate with any real investigation; the nation has been denied the opportunity to hear her story. But e-mail is a wondrous thing. Between her records and the recollections of her colleagues, we have a vivid portrait of the former head of the IRS’s Exempt Organizations unit. She was a brassy, self-assured bureaucrat with Democratic leanings and a near-messianic belief in the need for more speech regulations.

I plan on reading the entire book, but Ms. Strassel’s comments in the article confirm what most Americans already knew–the IRS has been used by the Obama Administration to limit free speech. During the Nixon Administration, using the IRS as a political tool was an impeachable offense. Why? Because the media kept up a constant drum beat about the offense. Unfortunately conservatives do not have that media back-up. It is up to us to fight for our First Amendment rights. Unless more Americans wake up to what is happening, that will be a very long and hard fight.