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Senator Doug Jones speaks at the event. New Flyer of America Inc. held a ribbon cutting and tour event to celebrate the official opening of its newly-expanded, advanced manufacturing facility in Anniston Friday morning. (Photo by Trent Penny/The Anniston Star)

Today's politics being what they are, U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, D-Birmingham, serves as Alabama Republicans' favorite punching bag, regardless of the details. But here's something that should garner the state's junior senator a bit of bipartisan support. That it probably won't says something about how today's Washington works.

In "Alabama Senator to the IRS: Stop Picking on the South," ProPublica reporter Paul Kiel details how Jones is examining the Internal Revenue Service's disproportional reviews of tax returns among certain regions of the South. Those regions, predictably, are overwhelmingly low-income and black. In Alabama, that means the Black Belt and the low-income neighborhoods of the state's largest cities.

A ProPublica report last week showed that the IRS, at Republican lawmakers' urging, has focused recently on auditing recipients of the earned income tax credit, ostensibly in an effort to root out fraud. That anti-poverty program, ProPublica reports, typically helps American workers who earn less than $20,000 a year. Similar efforts to root out fraud among the nation's highest earners apparently don't exist.

The ProPublica report included a map he map that "showed that the highest audit rates were to be found in rural, mostly African American counties in the South. Among states, Alabama had the fifth highest audit rate in the country, behind Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and Florida." 

In a letter to the IRS, Jones wrote, "To take such a large portion of limited IRS resources and to focus them so intensely on rural communities in Alabama and the Southeast makes little fiscal sense. Moreover, the practice appears to be blatantly discriminatory.” 

-- Phillip Tutor  

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