Saturday, April 13, 2002

Forty Acres and an Audit

Supporters of reparations for slavery are becoming more brazen. The movement was energized a couple years ago with the publication of Randall Robinson's book The Debt: What America Owes to Blacks. Just in the past few weeks, we've seen a lawsuit filed that demands reparations from companies that allegedly profited from the slave trade. Now, the Treasury Department has reported that an increasing number of black Americans are no longer waiting for the federal government or the courts - they've decided to give themselves a reparations credit on their personal tax returns.

Even more alarming than the fact that thousands of Americans think they can simply tell the government to give them thousands of dollars based on their racial identity is the reality that the government has, in many cases, complied. From

"The IRS received more than 77,000 tax returns last year claiming $2.7 billion in reparations refunds, up from 13,000 the year before. Last year, the IRS discovered that some erroneous refunds were being issued but was only partly effective in stopping them.

"The Treasury inspector general for tax administration, David C. Williams, said in Senate testimony this week that refunds of more than $80,000 were issued 'in some instances' to married couples when each spouse claimed the reparations credit.

"In 2000 and the first four months of 2001, Williams said, more than $30 million in erroneous reparations payments were paid. After April of last year, a computer program developed by the inspector general identified an additional $16.1 million in claims before they were paid."

How is this happening? Is isn't as though there's an extra line at the bottom of the 1040 where you can fill in whatever tax credit you'd like to receive. Even worse, the IRS has known about this for a long time; their website contains an entire section devoted to scams, including this statement on reparations scams from January. People have been going to jail for receiving fraudulent credits and preparing illegal returns for others for years. Why is the IRS still unable to keep its offices from writing five-digit checks to likely felons?

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