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Biden Administration

IRS Says Agents Will No Longer Be Knocking On Taxpayers’ Doors Unannounced

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Agents of the Internal Revenue Service will no longer pay unannounced visits to taxpayers’ residences, the agency stated on Monday. This change in policy is intended to protect personnel’ safety from possibly hostile taxpayers who could answer the door.

According to agency officials, revenue agents have been knocking on taxpayers’ doors since at least the 1950s. These trips will be limited by the new policy to a few hundred per year, and only in exceptional circumstances.

The agency said it will send letters instructing people to schedule a meeting with a revenue officer rather than conducting house calls to individuals who have disregarded outstanding tax notices in the mail.

“This is the right thing to do and the right time to end it,” IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a statement. “We have the tools we need to successfully collect revenue without adding stress with unannounced visits.”

In extraordinary situations, such as when agents were preparing to take assets and the delinquent taxpayer might be hiding money “beyond the reach of the government,” the agency stated it would only dispatch police without warning.

The door-knockers have long been hampered by safety issues. The IRS claimed more than 30 years ago that agents were the most often assaulted federal law enforcement personnel, with hundreds of assaults per year. They were even instructed to use fictitious names for their own protection.

The organization has also committed to updating its computer systems so that artificial intelligence can someday evaluate tax data. The improvements should make it easier to identify tax fraudsters than simple audits.

IRS personnel projected that ending the door-to-door approach will aid in the agency’s effort to hire tax experts.

“These are some of the hardest jobs in government. … There is a better way of doing it,” IRS spokesman Terry Lemons said. “Another advantage is that if people have a greater sense of safety and security, that will help us bring good people in to the agency.”

The union representing IRS employees pushed for the change.

“The safety of IRS employees is of paramount importance and this decision will help protect those whose jobs have only grown more dangerous in recent years because of false, inflammatory rhetoric about the agency and its workforce,” National Treasury Employees Union President Tony Reardon said in a statement.

Werfel also mentioned that con artists have posed as IRS officers to knock on homes, a fraud that should be simpler to spot under the new approach.

Biden Administration

Biden Admin is Using Fraudulent Climate Dataset in Push For Green Agenda, According to Government Watchdog

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A government watchdog group has filed a complaint with the Biden administration over its use of a dataset frequently used to push its climate agenda.

Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT) filed the complaint with the Commerce Department over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) “Billions Project” dataset, which purports to keep track of natural [and climate] disasters that have caused at least $1 billion in damages going back to 1980. The billion-dollar disasters (BDD) data — cited frequently by the Biden administration to insinuate that climate change is intensifying and justify sweeping green policies — is based on opaque data derived from questionable accounting practices, PPT alleges in the complaint.

“American families and businesses continue to struggle with persistently high inflation, which many attribute in large part to the energy policies and government spending of the current administration. The idea that blatant violations of scientific integrity could be underlying the rationale for these policies should concern every American,” Michael Chamberlain, PPT’s director, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “Unfortunately, this is far from an isolated incident. The Biden Administration came into office pledging that its decision making would be grounded in the highest-quality science, but all too often has failed to live up to those promises.”

The complaint was filed with the Commerce Department, as NOAA operates under its auspices, Chamberlain told the DCNF.

PPT’s complaint alleges that NOAA does not adequately disclose its sources and methods for compiling the BDD dataset, adds and removes BDD events from the dataset without providing its rationale for doing so and produces cost estimates that are sometimes significantly different than those generated by more conventional accounting procedures.

While NOAA states that it develops its BDD data from more than a dozen sources, the agency does not disclose those sources for specific events or show how it calculates loss estimates from those sources, PPT’s complaint alleges.

The complaint further alleges that NOAA’s accounting methods are opaque and “produce suspect results.”

For example, when Hurricane Id alia took aim at Florida in 2023, NOAA initially projected that the storm would cause about $2.5 billion worth of damages before insured losses ultimately came in at about $310 million, according to PPT’s complaint, which cites the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation

 for that figure. Nevertheless, NOAA subsequently marked up its estimate for how much damage the storm caused to $3.5 billion, a discrepancy for which NOAA provided no explanation, PPT alleges in its complaint.

NOAA researchers have disclosed in the past that the agency considers factors such as functions pertaining to livestock feeding costs — in addition to more conventional types of damages — in their cost calculations.

Further, the complaint alleges that BDD events are quietly added and removed from the dataset without explanation, citing Roger Pielke Jr., a former academic who believes climate change to be a real threat but opposes politicized science. In a forthcoming paper analyzing the merits of BDD statistics, Pielke compared the dataset in late 2022 to the dataset in the middle of 2023 and found that ten new BDD events were added to the list and 3 were subtracted without explanation.

Apart from the issues with methodology alleged by PPT in its complaint, the use of BDD events as a proxy for climate change’s intensity is inherently misleading because economic data does not reflect changes in meteorological conditions, as Pielke has previously explained to the DCNF.

For example, increasing concentrations of assets, especially in coastal areas, can confound the usefulness of BDD events as an indicator for the intensity of climate change, as Energy and Environment Legal Institute Senior Policy Fellow Steve Milloy has previously explained to the DCNF. Hypothetically, the same exact hurricane could hit the same exact place, decades apart, with vastly different damage totals; this would be the case because there are simply more assets sitting in the way of the storm, not because the storm was any more violent due to worsening climate change.

NOAA has acknowledged this limitation of the dataset in prior communications with the DCNF.

Additionally, NOAA will add disasters to the list retrospectively because it adjusts for inflation, meaning that a hurricane that caused $800 million in damages in 1980 dollars would be added to the list because the damages exceed $1 billion when adjusted for inflation, for example.

The Biden administration has frequently cited the BDD dataset to substantiate its massive climate agenda.

For example, Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk cited the dataset in written testimony submitted to lawmakers in February explaining the White House’s decision to pause new approvals for liquefied natural gas export terminals.

The BDD statistics are also referenced Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5), the Biden administration’s landmark climate report that is intended to provide the most sound scientific basis for lawmakers and officials to craft climate policy.

NOAA asserted that the increasing frequency of BDD events is a sign of intensifying climate change in a January press release and blog post summarizing 2023, and then defended the use of the dataset in subsequent communications with the DCNF.

“Sensational climate claims made without proper scientific basis and spread by government officials threaten the public’s trust in its scientific officials and undermines the government’s mission of stewarding the environment,” PPT’s complaint states. “It also poses the danger of policymakers basing consequential government policy on unscientific claims unsupported by evidence.”

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U.S. Military Has Started Recalling Retirees Due to Recruiting Crisis

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The U.S. Army Publishing Directorate released the ALARACT 017/2024, titled, “Utilization of the Army Retiree Recall Program.”

The document cites Executive Order 13223 from the Bush administration in 2001.

A retiree recall is a “retired Soldier who is ordered to active duty (AD) from the Retired Reserve or the retired list under 10 USC 688/688a, 12301(a), or 12301(d). Per AR 601-10, Recalled retiree Soldiers must be aligned to a valid vacant AC requirement that matches the grade and skill of the retiree before he or she may be recalled to AD,” according to the document. “The retiree population will be utilized as a last resort to fill Active Component vacant requirements.”

The ALARACT 017/2024 comes as the U.S. military is experiencing a recruitment crisis.

The U.S. Army recently announced that it is cutting thousands of positions. Authorized troop levels will now be an estimated 470,000 by fiscal year 2029, down 24,000 from its 494,000 soldiers.

“While making these investments and adding formations, the Army must also reduce force structure to protect readiness in light of decreased end strength. The Army is currently significantly over-structured, meaning there are not enough soldiers to fill out existing units and organizations. Army leaders seek to have at least 470,000 soldiers in the Active Component by FY29, which is nearly 20,000 above the current end strength but a reduction of about 24,000 authorizations compared to currently planned force structure,” the report

 states.

It added that the Army is “undertaking a similarly important transformation of its recruiting enterprise so that it can man units sufficiently, continue to bring the right types and amounts of new talent into the Army, and rebuild its overall end strength.” Noting the ongoing recruitment failure within the U.S. military, the document noted, “The Army must solve its recruiting challenges to successfully transform for the future.”

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Trucker Claims he was Forced at Gunpoint to Transport Illegal Immigrants

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A truck driver in Texas who was arrested for smuggling migrants claims that he was forced to transfer them at gunpoint.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott has highlighted smuggling and drug activities linked to illegal immigration as reasons for deploying Texas National Guard personnel and Texas Department of Public Safety officers to address the surge in migrant encounters at the US-Mexico border, which reached a record 2.4 million during the 2023 fiscal year, marking a substantial increase from the previous year.

Senate Bill 4 includes a provision allowing Texas to enforce its own immigration regulations, distinct from federal oversight. This provision proposes increasing the minimum sentence for convicted migrant smugglers or individuals operating stash houses from two to ten years.

The truck driver in question, Luis Enrique Lara from Laredo, was apprehended at a highway checkpoint on March 24 and charged with various offenses related to transporting migrants, as per an affidavit from the Laredo Morning Times. The affidavit indicates that during a checkpoint s top, law enforcement’s K-9 unit signaled potential contraband in Lara’s trailer. Subsequently, officers found three migrants hidden under pillows, contrary to Lara’s assertion that he was unaware of their presence.

Lara explained to authorities that he was coerced by an individual named “Luis” at gunpoint about a month before his arrest at a gas station in Katy. This person allegedly instructed Lara to transport migrants to San Antonio, leading to the events that culminated in his detention.

Concerns about human and drug trafficking across the southern border have been raised by various political figures and officials, including former US Ambassador to the UN and White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, who expressed worries about criminal exploitation of border vulnerabilities.

FBI Director Christopher Wray has also testified about the potential for terrorists using fake IDs to enter the country undetected, emphasizing the challenges faced by federal agencies in monitoring illegal immigration flows.

Governor Abbott, while facing criticism from some religious leaders regarding the portrayal of migrants, has urged legislative action to address illegal border crossings. The political landscape suggests differing approaches depending on election outcomes, with potential shifts in immigration policies based on who holds office.

SOURCE: LAREDO MORNING TIMES

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