April 12, 2000, these four papers and many others around the nation
published major articles about the audit practices of the IRS.
The New York Times led the paper with the finding that in 1999
the audit rate for poor people was higher than for the wealthy.
It also described how many aspects of the agency's enforcement
program had sharply declined. The Los Angeles Times's front-page
article also focused on the relatively high audit rate for individuals
reporting $25,000 or less in income. The Washington Post and the
San Francisco Examiner ran their IRS articles on the front of
the business section. The starting point for these papers, and
news organizations served by AP and the Knight Ridder News Service,
was the enforcement and staffing information that TRAC had obtained
from the IRS, the Office of Personnel Management, the Justice
Department and other sources. The data -- accessible on both TRACFED
and TRAC's IRS public web site -- had been made available to reporters
on an embargoed basis so that they all would have time to do their
independent investigation of several previously unnoticed and
unannounced shifts in the recent actions of one of the nation's
most powerful enforcement agencies. The April 2000 cycle was the
fifth consecutive year that news organizations had relied on TRAC
data for their traditional mid-April tax articles.