From American Progress:
ECONOMY -- ADMINISTRATION CUTS AUDITS ON WEALTHY AMERICANS:
The administration is pushing to reduce the number of estate tax auditors nearly in half over the next two months. These lawyers are responsible for auditing the tax returns of America's wealthiest citizens. President Bush has been a strong opponent of the estate tax, claiming it hurts the growth of small, family-owned businesses.
But as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes, "At an exemption level of $3.5 million ($7 million per couple), as will exist in 2009, fewer than 100 family businesses and only 65 farm estates would have paid any estate tax."
Sharyn Phillips, a veteran IRS estate tax lawyer, believes this personnel reduction is a "back-door way for the Bush administration to achieve what it cannot get from Congress, which is repeal of the estate tax."
For each hour these lawyers work, "they find an average of $2,200 of taxes that people owe the government," according to Kevin Brown, an IRS deputy commissioner. Last year, just 30 out of more than 180,000 millionaires were audited by the IRS. Low-income taxpayers were almost twice as likely to be audited as the wealthy.