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The IRS is quicker to answer the phone on this Tax Day

WASHINGTON (AP) — On this Tax Day, the IRS is promoting the customer service improvements the agency rolled out since receiving tens of billions in new funding dollars through Democrats’ Inflation Reduction Act.

From cutting phone wait times to digitizing more documents and improving the “Where’s My Refund” tool to show more account details in plain language, agency leadership is trying to bring attention to what’s been done to repair the agency’s image as an outdated and maligned tax collector.

The promotion also in part is meant to quickly normalize a more efficient and effective IRS before congressional Republicans threaten another round of cuts to the agency. So time is of the essence for both taxpayers and the agency this season.

“This filing season, the IRS has built off past successes and reached new milestones,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on a Friday call with reporters. “It’s showing that when it has the resources it needs, it will provide taxpayers the service they deserve.”

“Delivering tax season is a massive undertaking,” said IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel. “We greatly appreciate people in many different areas working long hours to serve taxpayers as the tax deadline approaches.”

For most people, April 15 is the last day to submit tax returns or to file an extension and the IRS says it has received more than 100 million tax returns, with tens of millions more expected to be filed.

The IRS says call wait times have been cut down to three minutes this tax season, compared with the average 28 minutes in 2022. That has saved taxpayers 1.4 million hours of hold time and the agency has answered 3 million more calls compared with the same time frame. Also, an updated “Where’s My Refund” tool giving more specific information about taxpayers’ refunds in plain language was rolled out to 31 million views online.

Werfel told The Associated Press earlier in the tax season that the agency’s agenda is to deliver “better service for all Americans so that we can ease stress, frustration and make the tax filing process easier — and to increase scrutiny on complex filers where there’s risk of tax evasion.”

“When we do that,” Werfel said, “not only do we make the tax system work better because it’s easier and more streamlined to meet your tax obligations. But also we collect more money for the U.S. Treasury and lower our deficit. The IRS is a good investment.”

Major new initiatives in recent months have included an aggressive pursuit of high-wealth earners who don’t pay their full tax obligations, such as people who improperly deduct personal flights on corporate jets and those who just don’t file at all.

This also is the first tax season that the IRS has rolled out a program called Direct File, the government’s free electronic tax return filing system available to taxpayers in 12 states who have simple W-2 forms and claim a standard deduction.

If Direct File is successful and scaled up for the general public’s use, the program could drastically change how Americans file their taxes and how much money they spend completing them. That is, if the agency can see the program through its development in spite of threats to its funding.

The Inflation Reduction Act initially included $80 billion for the IRS.

However, House Republicans have successfully clawed back some of the money. They built a $1.4 billion reduction to the IRS into the debt ceiling and budget cuts package passed by Congress last summer. A separate agreement will take an additional $20 billion from the IRS over the next two years to divert to other nondefense programs.

Government watchdogs warn IRS funding cuts will reduce the amount of revenues the U.S. collects.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported in February that a $5 billion rescission from the IRS would reduce revenues by $5.2 billion over the next 10 years and increase the cumulative deficit by $0.2 billion. A $20 billion rescission would reduce revenues by $44 billion and a $35 billion rescission would reduce revenues by $89 billion and increase the deficit by $54 billion.

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See all of the AP’s tax season coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/personal-finance.


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Biden administration agrees to provide $6.4 billion to Samsung for making computer chips in Texas

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has reached an agreement to provide up to $6.4 billion in direct funding for Samsung Electronics to develop a computer chip manufacturing and research cluster in Texas.

The funding announced Monday by the Commerce Department is part of a total investment in the cluster that, with private money, is expected to exceed $40 billion. The government support comes from the CHIPS and Science Act, which President Joe Biden signed into law in 2022 with the goal of reviving the production of advanced computer chips domestically.

“The proposed project will propel Texas into a state of the art semiconductor ecosystem,” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on a call with reporters. “It puts us on track to hit our goal of producing 20% of the world’s leading edge chips in the United States by the end of the decade.”

Raimondo said she expects the project will create at least 17,000 construction jobs and more than 4,500 manufacturing jobs.

Samsung’s cluster in Taylor, Texas, would include two factories that would make four- and two-nanometer chips. Also, there would be a factory dedicated to research and development, as well as a facility for the packaging that surrounds chip components.

The first factory would begin production in 2026, with the second starting in 2027, according to the government.

The funding also would expand an existing Samsung facility in Austin, Texas.

Lael Brainard, director of the White House National Economic Council, said Samsung will be able to manufacture chips in Austin directly for the Defense Department as a result. Access to advanced technology has become a major national security concern amid competition between the U.S. and China.

In addition to the $6.4 billion, Samsung has indicated it also will claim an investment tax credit from the U.S. Treasury Department.

The government has previously announced terms to support other chipmakers including Intel and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in projects spread across the country.


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Are Americans feeling like they get enough sleep? Dream on, a new Gallup poll says

NEW YORK (AP) — If you’re feeling — YAWN — sleepy or tired while you read this and wish you could get some more shut-eye, you’re not alone. A majority of Americans say they would feel better if they could have more sleep, according to a new poll.

But in the U.S., the ethos of grinding and pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps is ubiquitous, both in the country’s beginnings and our current environment of always-on technology and work hours. And getting enough sleep can seem like a dream.

The Gallup poll, released Monday, found 57% of Americans say they would feel better if they could get more sleep, while only 42% say they are getting as much sleep as they need. That’s a first in Gallup polling since 2001; in 2013, when Americans were last asked, it was just about the reverse — 56% saying they got the needed sleep and 43% saying they didn’t.

Younger women, under the age of 50, were especially likely to report they aren’t getting enough rest.

The poll also asked respondents to report how many hours of sleep they usually get per night: Only 26% said they got eight or more hours, which is around the amount that sleep experts say is recommended for health and mental well-being. Just over half, 53%, reported getting six to seven hours. And 20% said they got five hours or less, a jump from the 14% who reported getting the least amount of sleep in 2013.

(And just to make you feel even more tired, in 1942, the vast majority of Americans were sleeping more. Some 59% said they slept eight or more hours, while 33% said they slept six to seven hours. What even IS that?)

The poll doesn’t get into reasons WHY Americans aren’t getting the sleep they need, and since Gallup last asked the question in 2013, there’s no data breaking down the particular impact of the last four years and the pandemic era.

But what’s notable, says Sarah Fioroni, senior researcher at Gallup, is the shift in the last decade toward more Americans thinking they would benefit from more sleep and particularly the jump in the number of those saying they get five or less hours.

“That five hours or less category … was almost not really heard of in 1942,” Fioroni said. “There’s almost nobody that said they slept five hours or less.”

In modern American life, there also has been “this pervasive belief about how sleep was unnecessary — that it was this period of inactivity where little to nothing was actually happening and that took up time that could have been better used,” said Joseph Dzierzewski, vice president for research and scientific affairs at the National Sleep Foundation.

It’s only relatively recently that the importance of sleep to physical, mental and emotional health has started to percolate more in the general population, he said.

And there’s still a long way to go. For some Americans, like Justine Broughal, 31, a self-employed event planner with two small children, there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. So even though she recognizes the importance of sleep, it often comes in below other priorities like her 4-month-old son, who still wakes up throughout the night, or her 3-year-old daughter.

“I really treasure being able to spend time with (my children),” Broughal says. “Part of the benefit of being self-employed is that I get a more flexible schedule, but it’s definitely often at the expense of my own care.”

So why are we awake all the time? One likely reason for Americans’ sleeplessness is cultural — a longstanding emphasis on industriousness and productivity.

Some of the context is much older than the shift documented in the poll. It includes the Protestants from European countries who colonized the country, said Claude Fischer, a professor of sociology at the graduate school of the University of California Berkeley. Their belief system included the idea that working hard and being rewarded with success was evidence of divine favor.

“It has been a core part of American culture for centuries,” he said. “You could make the argument that it … in the secularized form over the centuries becomes just a general principle that the morally correct person is somebody who doesn’t waste their time.”

Jennifer Sherman has seen that in action. In her research in rural American communities over the years, the sociology professor at Washington State University says a common theme among people she interviewed was the importance of having a solid work ethic. That applied not only to paid labor but unpaid labor as well, like making sure the house was clean.

A through line of American cultural mythology is the idea of being “individually responsible for creating our own destinies,” she said. “And that does suggest that if you’re wasting too much of your time … that you are responsible for your own failure.”

“The other side of the coin is a massive amount of disdain for people considered lazy,” she added.

Broughal says she thinks that as parents, her generation is able to let go of some of those expectations. “I prioritize … spending time with my kids, over keeping my house pristine,” she said.

But with two little ones to care for, she said, making peace with a messier house doesn’t mean more time to rest: “We’re spending family time until, you know, (my 3-year-old) goes to bed at eight and then we’re resetting the house, right?”

While the poll only shows a broad shift over the past decade, living through the COVID-19 pandemic may have affected people’s sleep patterns. Also discussed in post-COVID life is “revenge bedtime procrastination,” in which people put off sleeping and instead scroll on social media or binge a show as a way of trying to handle stress.

Liz Meshel is familiar with that. The 30-year-old American is temporarily living in Bulgaria on a research grant, but also works a part-time job on U.S. hours to make ends meet.

On the nights when her work schedule stretches to 10 p.m., Meshel finds herself in a “revenge procrastination” cycle. She wants some time to herself to decompress before going to sleep and ends up sacrificing sleeping hours to make it happen.

“That’s applies to bedtime as well, where I’m like, ’Well, I didn’t have any me time during the day, and it is now 10 p.m., so I am going to feel totally fine and justified watching X number of episodes of TV, spending this much time on Instagram, as my way to decompress,” she said. “Which obviously will always make the problem worse.”

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Sanders reported from Washington, D.C.


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IRS says beats US tax filing season service goals, needs funding sustained

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Internal Revenue Service started tax filing deadline day on Monday by announcing that it had exceeded its goals for speeding assistance to taxpayers and cutting phone hold times to three minutes, and underscoring the need for Congress to maintain adequate funding for the tax agency.

THE TAKE: The IRS is completing its second tax return filing season with increased funding from the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, which initially provided $80 billion in funding over 10 years to modernize the agency, improve taxpayer services and boost enforcement. That has since been reduced to $60 billion by Republicans in Congress, and lawmakers continue to argue over the IRS’ separate annual operating budget.

The IRS has poured its initial resources into improving taxpayer services, digitizing filing capabilities and launching a pilot free-filing system.

BY THE NUMBERS: The IRS said it has cut its average call wait time on its main taxpayer helpline to three minutes, down from four minutes last year and 28 minutes in 2022, before it received the additional funding.

This was achieved despite answering nearly one million more calls than in 2023. The IRS said it provided help to 88% of callers, beating its 85% goal. A new call-back feature similar to those widely offered by airlines, banks and retailers also saved 1.4 million hours of hold time, IRS said.

IRS has hired more than 5,000 staff to assist taxpayers on the phone and at in-person service centers and to handle digitization of paper filings. IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel told reporters this was the “right-size workforce” for taxpayer services, but the agency needs to keep hiring to keep up with attrition.

Even with the supplemental funding, Werfel said the IRS does not have adequate resources to sustain hiring for taxpayer services and auditing of complex business partnerships while modernizing its systems, so it will need to see annual operating budget increases in future years.

KEY QUOTE: “These accomplishments show that the IRS’ strong performance last filing season was not a fluke,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said. “It’s showing that when (the IRS) has the resources it needs, it will provide taxpayers the service they deserve,” Yellen said, adding that she would work with Congress “to ensure that IRS has the resources to sustain this momentum.”

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Christopher Cushing)


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A police officer, sheriff’s deputy and suspect killed in a shootout in upstate New York, police say

LIVERPOOL, N.Y. (AP) — A police officer and a sheriff’s deputy in upstate New York were shot and killed Sunday night in an exchange of gunfire with a suspect, who also was killed, police said.

The shooting took place shortly after 8 p.m. in Liverpool, about 6 miles (9.6 kilometers) north of Syracuse.

The Syracuse Police Department and Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office were tracking a vehicle that had eluded police earlier, Syracuse Police Chief Joseph Cecile said during a press conference.

Two Syracuse police officers unsuccessfully attempted to stop a suspicious vehicle but got the license plate and tracked it to an address on Darien Drive in Liverpool. They requested assistance from the sheriff’s office after learning the suspect might be armed, Cecile said.

The officers found the vehicle at the home and saw what appeared to be guns inside the auto. They then “heard what sounded like someone manipulating a firearm from inside the residence,” Cecile said.

At least one suspect exchanged gunfire with the officers. The Syracuse officer, sheriff’s deputy and the suspect were shot and transported to Upstate University Hospital in Syracuse.

All three were pronounced dead at the hospital, Cecile said.

“We lost two heroes tonight,” Cecile said.

Onondaga County Sheriff Toby Shelly said police planned to search the house as part of the ongoing investigation.

“This is a dark day for Syracuse,” Syracuse Mayor Ben Walsh said. “This is our worst nightmare come true.”


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Judge set to hear motion to dismiss rapper Travis Scott from lawsuit over deadly Astroworld concert

A judge in Texas is set to hear arguments Monday in rap star Travis Scott’s request to be dismissed from a lawsuit over the deadly 2021 Astroworld festival in Houston.

Scott headlined the concert during which 10 people were killed as authorities and festival organizers responded to a massive crowd surge and tried to shut down the show.

Last week, the judge dismissed lawsuits against hip-hop guest performer Drake along with several other individuals and companies involved in the show.

Attorneys for Scott, whose real name is Jacques Bermon Webster II and is also known as “Cactus Jack,” write in the motion to dismiss that he is a performer and had no role in providing security or crowd management for the festival.

“Performers are not expected to render special protection to the audience, nor to safeguard them from the rest of the crowd,” the motion said. “Performing artists, even those who engage in certain promotional activities, have no inherent expertise or specialized knowledge in concert safety measures.”

The motion said Scott followed instructions and ended the show after a performance by Drake by performing one final song because it was feared that an abrupt ending could have led to riots, panic and chaos in the crowd.

“Thus, due care also required taking the time to end the show properly, so that the crowd would feel satisfied and leave peacefully,” according to the document.

After an investigation by Houston police, no charges were filed against Scott and a grand jury declined to indict him and five other people on any criminal counts related to the deadly concert.

Those killed, who ranged in age from 9 to 27, died from compression asphyxia, which an expert likened to being crushed by a car.

The first trial from the lawsuits is scheduled for May 6.

Some of the lawsuits filed by the families of the 10 who died and hundreds who were injured have been settled, including those filed by the families of four of the dead.


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Gun supervisor for ‘Rust’ movie to be sentenced for fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin on set

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A movie weapons supervisor is facing up to 18 months in prison for the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on the set of the Western film “Rust,” with her sentencing scheduled for Monday in a New Mexico state court.

Movie armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed was convicted in March by a jury on a charge of involuntary manslaughter in the death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and has been held for more than a month at a county jail on the outskirts of Santa Fe.

Baldwin, the lead actor and co-producer for “Rust,” was pointing a gun at Hutchins when the revolver went off, killing Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

Baldwin has pleaded not guilty to an involuntary manslaughter charge and says he pulled back the gun’s hammer, but not the trigger, before the gun went off. His trial is scheduled for July before the same judge, Mary Marlowe Sommer, who oversaw the trail of Gutierrez-Reed.

Gutierrez-Reed could also receive a $5,000 fine.

Prosecutors blamed Gutierrez-Reed for unwittingly bringing live ammunition onto the set of “Rust” where it was expressly prohibited and for failing to follow basic gun safety protocols. After a two-week trial, the jury deliberated for about three hours in reaching its verdict.

Defense attorneys for Gutierrez-Reed requested leniency in sentencing — including a possible conditional discharge that would avoid further jail time and leave an adjudication of guilt off her record if certain conditions are met.

Gutierrez-Reed was acquitted at trial of allegations she tampered with evidence in the “Rust” investigation. She also has pleaded not guilty to a separate felony charge that she allegedly carried a gun into a bar in Santa Fe where firearms are prohibited.

Defense attorneys have highlighted Gutierrez-Reed’s relatively young age “and the devastating effect a felony will have on her life going forward.”

They say the 26-year-old will forever be affected negatively by intense publicity associated with her prosecution in parallel with an A-list actor, and has suffered from anxiety, fear and depression as a result.

Special prosecutor Kari Morrissey urged the judge to impose the maximum prison sentence and designate Gutierrez-Reed as a “serious violent offender” to limit her eligibility for a sentence reduction later, describing the defendant’s behavior on the set of “Rust” as exceptionally reckless. She said Gutierrez-Reed has shown a lack of remorse, citing comments by Gutierrez-Reed in phone calls from jail that are monitored by authorities.

“Rust” assistant director and safety coordinator Dave Halls last year pleaded no contest to negligent handling of a firearm and completed a sentence of six months unsupervised probation. “Rust” props master Sarah Zachry, who shared some responsibilities over firearms on the set of “Rust,” signed an agreement with prosecutors to avoid prosecution in return with her cooperation.

Written testimonials in favor of leniency included letters from Gutierrez-Reed’s childhood friend and romantic partner Sean Kridelbaugh, who said Gutierrez-Reed cries constantly out of remorse in the shooting and that further incarceration would interfere with efforts to care for a relative with cancer. Other friends and former colleagues urged the judge to emphasize rehabilitation over punishment in the sentencing.

The pending firearms charge against Gutierrez-Reed stems from an incident at a bar in downtown Santa Fe, days before she was hired to work as the armorer on “Rust.” Prosecutors says investigations into the fatal shooting led to discovery of a selfie video in which Gutierrez-Reed filmed herself carrying a firearm into the bar, while defense attorneys allege vindictive prosecution.


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Biden to host Iraqi leader as Mideast tensions soar, raising more questions about US troop presence

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to host Iraq’s leader this week for talks that come as tensions across the Middle East have soared over the war in Gaza and Iran’s unprecedented weekend attack on Israel in retaliation for an Israeli military strike against an Iranian facility in Syria.

The sharp rise in security fears has raised further questions about the viability of the two-decade American military presence in Iraq, through which portions of Iran’s Saturday drone and missile attack on Israel flew or were launched from. A U.S. Patriot battery in Irbil, Iraq, knocked down at least one Iranian ballistic missile, according to American officials.

In addition, Iranian proxies have initiated attacks against U.S. interests throughout the region from inside Iraq, making Monday’s meeting between Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Shia al-Sudani all the more critical. The talks will include a discussion of regional stability and future U.S. troop deployments but will also focus on economic, trade and energy issues that have become a major priority for Iraq’s government, according to U.S. officials.

Biden and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin are both expected to address the U.S. troop presence in meetings with al-Sudani. “It is not the primary focus of the visit … but it is almost certainly going to come up,” one senior U.S. official said last week.

The U.S. and Iraq began formal talks in January about ending the coalition created to help the Iraqi government fight the Islamic State, with some 2,000 U.S. troops remaining in the country under an agreement with Baghdad. Iraqi officials have periodically called for a withdrawal of those forces.

The two countries have a delicate relationship due in part to Iran’s considerable sway in Iraq, where a coalition of Iran-backed groups brought al-Sudani to power in October 2022.

The U.S. in recent months has urged Iraq to do more to prevent attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq and Syria that have further roiled the Middle East in the aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel. Iran’s weekend attacks on Israel through Iraqi airspace have further underscored U.S. concerns, although al-Sudani had already left Baghdad and was en route to Washington when the drones and missiles were launched.

The U.S. has also sought to apply financial pressure over Baghdad’s relationship with Tehran, restricting Iraq’s access to its own dollars in an effort to stamp out money laundering said to benefit Iran and Syria.

Most previous Iraqi prime ministers have visited Washington earlier in their tenure. Al-Sudani’s visit was delayed because of tensions between the U.S. and Iran and regional escalation, including the Gaza war and the killing of three U.S. soldiers in Jordan in a drone attack in late January. That was followed by a U.S. strike that killed a leader in the Kataib Hezbollah militia whom Washington accused of planning and participating in attacks on U.S. troops.

Al-Sudani came to power in late 2022 after a power struggle between prominent Shiite cleric and political leader Muqtada Sadr and opposing Shiite factions that are close to Iran after the 2021 elections. Sadr ultimately withdrew from the political process, giving the opportunity to the remaining Shia politicians to form a government headed by al-Sudani.

Since then, al-Sudani has attempted to maintain a balancing act between Iran and America despite being seen as being close to Tehran and despite several incidents that have put his government in an embarrassing position in relation to Washington.

Early in al-Sudani’s term, a U.S. citizen, Stephen Edward Troell, was shot and killed by armed men who accosted him as he pulled up to the street where he lived in Baghdad’s central Karrada district with his family. An Iraqi criminal court convicted five men last August and sentenced them to life in prison in the case, which officials described as a kidnapping gone wrong.

A few months later, Elizabeth Tsurkov, an Israeli-Russian doctoral student at Princeton, was kidnapped while doing research in Iraq. Al-Sudani’s visit will come about a year after Tsurkov’s abduction. She is believed to be held by Kataib Hezbollah.

The senior U.S. official said Tsurkov’s case would also be raised.

“We are concerned by and closely tracking this case,” the official said. “We have strongly condemned her abduction. We’ve urged … and continue to urge senior Iraqi officials to find Elizabeth and to secure her release as soon as possible.”

Al-Sudani started his term with promises to focus on economic development and fight corruption, but his government has faced economic difficulties, including a discrepancy in the official and market exchange rates between the Iraqi dinar and the U.S. dollar.

The currency issues came in part as a result of a U.S. tightening of the dollar supply to Iraq, as part of a crackdown on money laundering and smuggling of funds to Iran. The U.S. has disallowed more than 20 Iraqi banks from dealing in dollars as part of the campaign.

The al-Sudani government recently renewed Iraq’s contract to purchase natural gas from Iran for another five years, which could lead to American displeasure.

The Iraqi prime minister will return to Iraq and meet with the Turkish president following his trip to Washington, which could finally lead to a solution to a long-running dispute over exports of oil from Kurdish areas of Iraq to Turkey. Washington has sought to get the flow of oil to resume.

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Abdul-Zahra reported from Baghdad. Eric Tucker in Washington contributed.


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The Civil War raged and fortune-seekers hunted for gold. This era produced Arizona’s abortion ban

WASHINGTON (AP) — As Union and Confederate armies clashed in a bloody fourth year of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln tasked one man to create the legal code for Arizona, almost 50 years before the territory became a state.

New York judge William Thompson Howell wrote 500 pages that spanned provisions on dueling, accidental homicides by ax and age of consent that would govern the newly formed territory of fewer than 7,000 people. But tucked within the “Howell Code,” just after the section on duels, was an abortion law criminalizing the administering of “any medicinal substances … with the intention to procure the miscarriage of any woman then being with child.”

That was 160 years ago. Last week, that same 1864 provision was resurrected by the Arizona Supreme Court, which upheld the near-total ban on abortion with no exceptions for rape or incest, a decision that quickly rippled across the political landscape of one of the nation’s most important presidential battleground states.

This law’s revival is just the latest instance of long-dormant restrictions influencing current abortion policies after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, which once granted a federal right to abortion.

“This is just one more example of a century-old zombie law coming back to life,” said Jessica Arons, senior policy counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union. “This is what the U.S. Supreme Court set the stage for when Roe fell.”

In the 1860’s, Arizonan settlers faced what was widely seen at the time as a remote and dangerous landscape. Settlers clashed with Apache tribes as they encroached on the region. And miners had just begun to discover the gold and silver that would attract droves of fortune seekers in the next decades.

Arizona’s 1864 code elaborately describes restrictions on duels, ruling any person involved in the fighting of a duel would be imprisoned for one to three years and meting out punishments for “mayhem” for those who “unlawfully cut out or disable the tongue, put out an eye, slit the nose, ear or lip, or disable any limb or member of another.”

Howell’s code includes exceptions for homicides, such as when “a man is at work with an axe, and the head flies off and kills a bystander or where a parent is moderately correcting his child … and happens to occasion death.” The code also appears to set the age of consent at 10 years old, proclaiming, “Every person of the age fourteen years and upwards, who shall have carnal knowledge of any female child under the age of ten years, either with or without her consent, shall be adjudged guilty of the crime of rape.”

Meanwhile, William Claude Jones, who presided over the 1st Arizona Territorial Legislative Assembly in 1864, was described by a biographer as a “pursuer of nubile females” and had throughout his life married a 12-year-old, a 15-year-old and a 14-year-old, according to a 1990 biography in the Journal of Arizona History.

“That’s the period of time that this abortion law is from,” said Prof. Barbara Atwood, law professor at University of Arizona’s law school. “The code reads as if you’re going back to this time of this barbaric, wild west.”

The state’s Civil War-era law is now likely to become one of the strictest abortion bans nationwide, a dynamic that already is shaping the races for president and U.S. Senate. Attorney General Kris Mayes decried the decision and noted that it came from era decades before women even had the right to vote.

She said the court’s ruling “will go down in history as a stain on our state.”

Similar words came from the White House as President Joe Biden said called it a “cruel ban” resurrected from history.

Some Arizona Republicans also criticized the ruling, though in more muted language. Republican state Sen. T.J. Shope called it “disappointing.”

While many states repealed their pre-Roe abortion laws after the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that granted a constitutional right to abortion, about a dozen states, including Arizona, kept theirs on the books. These laws often were referred to as “trigger laws” because the overturning of Roe would put them into effect.

Several legal experts said Arizona’s law is likely the oldest state abortion ban that will now be enforced. But century-old abortion restrictions passed by all-male legislatures during time periods when women couldn’t vote and scientific knowledge of pregnancy and abortion were limited have influenced post-Roe abortion policies in Alabama, Arkansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

The laws tend to be more severe. They often don’t include exceptions for rape and incest, call for the imprisonment of providers and ban the procedure in the first few weeks of pregnancy. Some have since been repealed while others are being challenged in court.

“These century-old laws are really having a tangible impact on women’s lives today,” said Jessie Hill, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in Cleveland. “And they’ve really contributed to the post-Dobbs uncertainty across America.” The U.S. Supreme Court’s 2022 ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned Roe.

In Michigan, a 1931 law would have criminalized abortion except when a woman’s life was in danger. But Michigan voters in 2022 overwhelmingly voted to enshrine abortion rights into the state’s constitution and earlier that year a judge ruled the 93-year-old law was unconstitutional. The law was formally repealed by a 2023 statute.

“New Mexico and Michigan realized the threat of these zombie laws and took action,” said Arons of the ACLU. “In Michigan, it was a major driver for pursuing a constitutional amendment enshrining abortion rights.”

An 1849 abortion ban is now at the center of a lawsuit in Wisconsin that is expected to make its way to the state supreme court, which has a new liberal majority. In other states, such as Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas, newer abortion laws have been layered onto older restrictions still on the books.

Abortion rights advocates also are warning about another 19th century law called the Comstock Act that could have national impacts. It’s been revived by anti-abortion groups seeking to use it to block the mailing of the abortion pill mifepristone nationwide. Medication abortions account for most abortions in the U.S.

Originally passed in 1873, the Comstock Act was intended to prohibit the mailing of contraceptives, “lewd” writings and any “instrument, substance, drug, medicine, or thing” that could be used in an abortion, though its scope has been narrowed by federal courts and Congress.

Mary Ruth Ziegler, a law professor at the University of California, Davis School of Law, said anti-abortion groups are pressuring presidential candidates to wield the law to block most abortions nationwide, even in states where it is currently legal, by barring the mailing of any drugs or equipment required for abortions.

“The Comstock Act means what happened in Arizona is possible for all of us across the country,” Ziegler said.

There also are long-dormant laws in many states related to contraception and same-sex marriage that have not been revived, she added.

“This is just a reminder that laws on the books that may seem irrelevant and antiquated can come back and be enforced,” she said.

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Tax Day reveals a major split in how Joe Biden and Donald Trump would govern

WASHINGTON (AP) — Tax Day reveals a major split in how Joe Biden and Donald Trump would govern: The presidential candidates have conflicting ideas about how much to reveal about their own finances and the best ways to boost the economy through tax policy.

Biden, the sitting Democratic president, plans to release his income tax returns on Monday, the IRS filing deadline. And on Tuesday, he is scheduled to deliver a speech in Scranton, Pennsylvania, about why the wealthy should pay more in taxes to reduce the federal deficit and help fund programs for the poor and middle class.

Biden is proud to say that he was largely without money for much of his decades-long career in public service, unlike Trump, who inherited hundreds of millions of dollars from his father and used his billionaire status to launch a TV show and later a presidential campaign.

“For 36 years, I was listed as the poorest man in Congress,” Biden told donors in California in February. “Not a joke.”

In 2015, Trump declared as part of his candidacy, “I’m really rich.”

The Republican former president has argued that voters have no need to see his tax data and that past financial disclosures are more than sufficient. He maintains that keeping taxes low for the wealthy will supercharge investment and lead to more jobs, while tax hikes would crush an economy still recovering from inflation that hit a four-decade peak in 2022.

“Biden wants to give the IRS even more cash by proposing the largest tax hike on the American people in history when they are already being robbed by his record-high inflation crisis,” said Karoline Leavitt, press secretary for the Trump campaign.

The split goes beyond an ideological difference to a very real challenge for whoever triumphs in the November election. At the end of 2025, many of the tax cuts that Trump signed into law in 2017 will expire — setting up an avalanche of choices about how much people across the income spectrum should pay as the national debt is expected to climb to unprecedented levels.

Including interest costs, extending all the tax breaks could add another $3.8 trillion to the national debt through 2033, according to an analysis last year by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

Biden would like to keep the majority of the tax breaks, based on his pledge that no one earning less than $400,000 will have to pay more. But he released a budget proposal this year with tax increases on the wealthy and corporations that would raise $4.9 trillion in revenues and trim forecasted deficits by $3.2 trillion over 10 years.

Still, he’s telling voters that he’s all for letting the Trump-era tax cuts lapse.

“Does anyone here think the tax code is fair? Raise your hand,” Biden said Tuesday at a speech in Washington’s Union Station to a crowd predisposed to dislike Trump’s broad tax cuts that helped many in the middle class but disproportionately favored wealthier households.

“It added more to the national debt than any presidential term in history,” Biden continued. “And it’s due to expire next year. And guess what? I hope to be president because it expires — it’s going to stay expired.”

Trump has called for higher tariffs on foreign-made goods, which are taxes that could hit consumers in the form of higher prices. But his campaign is committed to tax cuts while promising that a Trump presidency would reduce a national debt that has risen for decades, including during his Oval Office tenure.

“When President Trump is back in the White House, he will advocate for more tax cuts for all Americans and reinvigorate America’s energy industry to bring down inflation, lower the cost of living, and pay down our debt,” Leavitt said.

Most economists say Trump’s tax cuts could not generate enough growth to pay down the national debt. An analysis released Friday by Oxford Economics found that a “full-blown Trump” policy with tax cuts, higher tariffs and blocking immigration would slow growth and increase inflation.

Among Biden’s proposals is a “billionaire minimum income tax” that would apply a minimum rate of 25% on households with a net worth of at least $100 million.

The tax would directly target billionaires such as Trump, who refused to release his personal taxes as presidents have traditionally done. But six years of his tax returns were released in 2022 by Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee.

In 2018, Trump earned more than $24 million and paid about 4% of that in federal income taxes. The congressional panel also found that the IRS delayed legally mandated audits of Trump during his presidency, with the panel concluding the audit process was ” dormant, at best.”

Biden has publicly released more than two decades of his tax returns. In 2022, he and his wife, Jill, made $579,514 and paid nearly 24% of that in federal income taxes, more than double the rate paid by Trump.

Trump has maintained that his tax records are complicated because of his use of various tax credits and past business losses, which in some cases have allowed him to avoid taxes. He also previously declined to release his tax returns under the claim that the IRS was auditing him for pre-presidential filings.

His finances recently received a boost from the stock market debut of Trump Media, which controls Trump’s preferred social media outlet, Truth Social. Share prices initially surged, adding billions of dollars to Trump’s net worth, but investors have since soured on the company and shares by Friday were down more than 50% from their peak.

The former president is also on the hook for $542 million due to legal judgments in a civil fraud case and penalties owed to the writer E. Jean Carroll because of statements made by Trump that damaged her reputation after she accused him of sexual assault.

In the civil fraud case, New York Judge Arthur Engoron looked at the financial records of the Trump Organization and concluded after looking at the inflated assets that “the frauds found here leap off the page and shock the conscience.”

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Colvin reported from Palm Beach, Florida.


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