Budget cuts and additional responsibilities are hitting the Internal Revenue Service hard, and there are fewer agents auditing returns than at any time since the 1980s, The Associated Press reports. If that's the case, what are your chances of getting audited?
According to the The Washington Post's Christopher Ingraham, pretty slim. Ingraham dug through annual IRS reports, and found that last year was the first time audit rates fell below 1 percent since 2006. Rates were at their highest in the 1980s, when more than 2 percent of taxpayers were audited.
Ingraham went on to explain that audit rates differ by income, and while the IRS does not provide consistent income breakdowns of the data over time, the likelihood of being audited in 2013 was 0.88 percent if your income was less than $200,000, 3.26 percent for incomes above $200,000, and 10.85 percent for people earning more than $1 million per year.
The final result is that you're roughly half as likely to get audited in 2014 as you were in 1980, but twice as likely as you were in 2000. (Ingraham has a nice chart of the audit rates.) As long as you at least appear to be on the up and up, chances are you'll escape a dreaded audit.
"We keep going after the people who look like the worst of the bad guys," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the AP. "But there are going to be some people that we could catch, either in terms of collecting the revenue from them or prosecuting them, that we're not going to catch." Catherine Garcia
Vice President Mike Pence met his wife, Karen, at church while he was studying in law school; their first date was a dinner of taco salad. "Karen carried a gold cross with the word 'yes' on it in her purse in anticipation of the moment when Mike would propose," Rolling Stone writes. The two have been married since 1985, and have three children together.
But Pence apparently has a somewhat strange way of addressing Karen, Rolling Stone reports:
While Mike Pence was governor, his relationship with the Democratic minority in the legislature was crap. Someone on his staff suggested having the Democratic leaders over to the governor's mansion for dinner. The table was set for 20, but there were only around seven in attendance. One unlucky legislator stuck next to Pence tried to make conversation, but found even at dinner she couldn't shift Pence off his talking points. Gov. Pence shouted to his wife, Karen, his closest adviser, at the other end of the table.
"Mother, Mother, who prepared our meal this evening?"
The legislators looked at one another, speaking with their eyes: He just called his wife "Mother."
Maybe it was a joke, the legislator reasoned. But a few minutes later, Pence shouted again.
"Mother, Mother, whose china are we eating on?"
Mother Pence went on a long discourse about where the china was from. A little later, the legislators stumbled out, wondering what was weirder: Pence's inability to make conversation, or calling his wife "Mother" in the second decade of the 21st century. [Rolling Stone]
President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is already drawing rebuke from his own Republican Party. Shortly after it was announced Monday that Trump had signed the executive order, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) issued a statement calling Trump's move a "serious mistake."
McCain warned the decision to withdraw from the 12-nation deal would "have lasting consequences for America's economy and our strategic position in the Asia-Pacific region." "This decision will forfeit the opportunity to promote American exports, reduce trade barriers, open new markets, and protect American invention and innovation," McCain wrote, instead advocating for a "positive trade agenda" that will ensure American workers and companies stay "competitive" in the Asia-Pacific region.
Trump insisted Monday that withdrawing from the trade deal was "a great thing for the American worker" — and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) seemed to agree. In a statement Monday, the one-time Democratic presidential candidate and progressive leader lauded Trump's decision, noting that previous trade deals have "cost us millions of decent-paying jobs and caused a 'race to the bottom.'" Becca Stanek
Regardless of what color your lightsaber is, pause your training for a moment: On Monday, the franchise announced the title of its next installment, previously only known as Episode VIII:
— Star Wars (@starwars) January 23, 2017
The Last Jedi will follow the characters and timeline from The Force Awakens, a recent installment of the franchise, which was released December 2015. It will also be the last Star Wars film to feature the late Carrie Fisher. Fisher — famous for originating the role of Princess Leia — completed shooting her scenes for The Last Jedi before her death last month.
The Last Jedi is set for release on Dec. 15, 2017. Carry on, young padawan! Ricky Soberano
President Donald Trump signed three executive orders Monday, the first full weekday of his presidency. Following through with a campaign promise, Trump signed an order withdrawing the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade deal that Trump once called "a rape of our country." While signing the order, he said withdrawing from the trade pact was a "great thing for the American worker."
Also Monday, Trump signed an order imposing a hiring freeze on all federal workers, except for the military. He additionally reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which restricts non-governmental organizations that receive U.S. federal funding from providing abortions abroad. Every Republican president since former President Ronald Reagan has reinstated the Mexico City Policy, which Democrats have repeatedly repealed when assuming office. Politico noted Trump signed the order just one day after the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling in the landmark abortion case Roe v. Wade, and just two days after the Women's March on Washington, which advocated for reproductive rights. Becca Stanek
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was supposed to be the outsider presidential candidate in 2016, but with the help of one short epithet tied to his name by a boisterous billionaire real estate mogul, Lyin' Ted succumbed like every other Republican in the race. He isn't likely to be back anytime soon, either: "Even the senator's most bullish associates can't conjure a scenario where he'd challenge [President Donald] Trump in 2020," Politico writes.
And that eight years is a long, long time when you have an addiction to running for president:
What makes the wait so painstaking for Cruz, whose breakneck political metabolism powers an incessant quest for intellectual competition, is less his desire to occupy the Oval Office and more his euphoric addiction to running for president. It resulted in a crash after the campaign; Senate aides characterized him as grumpy and withdrawn, and friends worried he'd grown despondent without the rush of the trail. "It was the most fun I ever had in my life," Cruz tells me in a recent interview. "I jumped out of bed every day." [Politico]
George H.W. Bush to be moved out of ICU, former first lady Barbara Bush discharged from the hospital
Former President George H.W. Bush could be discharged from the hospital as soon as the end of this week, after he was admitted to the intensive care unit at Houston Methodist hospital last Wednesday. "If everything continues at the pace of improvement we're currently enjoying, I would imagine … a Friday discharge might be a little bit optimistic, but Friday or over the weekend," said Dr. Clint Doerr, one of the doctors treating Bush, per The Washington Examiner.
Bush, who was hospitalized last week for "shortness of breath," will be transferred Monday from the intensive care unit of Houston Methodist Hospital to another wing of the hospital, Bush's doctor said. The former president was being treated for pneumonia.
Meanwhile, former first lady Barbara Bush has been discharged and is reportedly "back to her normal self." She was also hospitalized last week after coming down with bronchitis.
President Trump admitted Monday at a White House meeting with business leaders that he was "surprised" by his administration's plans to cut regulations. "A bigger thing, and that surprised me, is the fact that we are going to be cutting regulation massively. Now we are going to have regulation and it will be just as strong and just as good and just as protective of the people as the regulation we have right now," Trump told executives from companies including Dell, Lockheed Martin, Ford, Johnson & Johnson, and SpaceX, among others. "The problem with the regulation you have right now is that you can't do anything."
Trump indicated his administration plans to slash regulations "by 75 percent" or "maybe more." Trump also noted his plans to cut taxes "massively for both the middle class and for companies" by an estimated 15 or 20 percent, and reiterated that any company that moves abroad will face "a very major border tax." Becca Stanek