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King Calls For Tax System Improvements To Help Struggling Mainers

Willis Ryder Arnold
Maine Public
At a taxpayer clinic in Portland, Independent Sen. Angus King holds a map showing locations for Earned Income Tax Credit audits, which he says disproportionately affect people struggling economically in Maine.

Maine U.S. Sen. Angus King is looking to improve the tax system for people struggling economically in Maine.People like Jennifer Merrill. Merrill said she recently wrapped up a drawn out battle with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS claimed she owed more than $90,000 in taxes.  She said they owed her $10,000.  It turns out that an IRS computer made a mistake, and Merrill was right.  But the year-and-a-half struggle cost her work, her home, and - for a time - her self-esteem.

"It was absolutely horrible. And the whole time I knew it was nothing that I had done wrong and there was nobody that would listen."

Merrill told her story at a taxpayer clinic for low income people Monday at Pine Tree Legal in Portland, where King called for IRS improvements.

"On Tax Day we want a fair tax system that's fairly enforced across the country, that doesn't concentrate on the people that least afford it, and that funds the important measures that our government works on," King said.

King, an independent, said he wrote to two Senate committees requesting that $18 million be allocated for taxpayer clinics, which help low-income earners struggling with IRS audits.

The letter also requests increased funding for tax enforcement, which the senator says has declined almost 25 percent in the past 10 years and disproportionately affects Maine residents in need. King says better enforcement would allow the IRS to pursue audits for wealthy people and corporations.

King has asserted low-income Mainers like Merrill are disproportionately affected by tax-related struggles.