To Your Heart's Content

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Thank You Professor Long

A quick shout out of support and a thank you to Professor Long of Syracuse University, who for decades has collected records showing how thoroughly the Internal Revenue Service audits big corporations and the rich, and how much it discounts the additional taxes assessed after audits. The information was given at no charge to Professor Long, who made it available on the Internet at, with tools for people to conduct their own analyses. In fact, much of what the public knows about the efficiency, effectiveness and evenhandedness of the revenue service and other big federal agencies is based on the figures that Professor Long collects and posts. It is quite an extensive and interesting site offering a "service of understandable, authoritative, and complete information about the federal government--how it enforces the law, where it assigns its employees, and how it spends our money."

Well, in May 2004, the revenue service told her that it would not provide the information and ordered its statisticians to stop answering her questions. It also advised her that if it ever did make the data public again, the information would cost $12,000 a month to receive electronic copies. This is in violation of a 1976 court order, filed by Professor Long herself, requiring their disclosure. Researchers, reporters, lobbyists and others have argued that government agencies have for several decades become less open...


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