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Paul Kiel

Reporter

Photo of Paul Kiel

Paul Kiel covers business for ProPublica. His current focus is on the state of the IRS and the fairness of American tax administration.

In recent years, his work has helped spur a $135 million settlement by a subprime lender for alleged abuses against service members, legislation in Congressa federal investigation of a high-cost lenderstate rule changes and the forgiveness of $17 million in medical bills by a nonprofit hospital.

Past areas of focus have included the foreclosure crisishigh-cost lending (particularly installment and payday loans), the widespread use of lawsuits and garnishments to collect consumer debts, and the consumer bankruptcy system.

His work has appeared in several newspapers, including The Washington Post and The New York Times. He has also produced stories for National Public Radio and American Public Media’s Marketplace, as well as appeared on This American Life.

Among other honors, his work has been awarded a Philip Meyer Award by Investigative Reporters and Editors, a Scripps Howard Award, a Best in Business Award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the Online News Association’s Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, and a National Press Club Award. His e-book on the foreclosure crisis was featured in The Best Business Writing 2013.

Many People are Too Broke for Bankruptcy. A New Report Suggests Some Fixes.

For many people, filing for bankruptcy is a luxury that’s out of reach. A new report by the primary bankruptcy professional organization is full of recommendations that, if implemented, could help change that.

Lawmakers Just Confronted the IRS Over Tax Audits That Target the Poor

Following up on ProPublica stories about the IRS, lawmakers pressed the commissioner on the agency’s disproportionate focus on auditing the working poor while examinations of the rich plummeted.

Alabama Senator to the IRS: Stop Picking on the South

Why are the rural poor audited more frequently than other groups, he asks, citing ProPublica. Another Democratic senator adds, “There are two tax codes in America, and there are also two enforcement regimes.”

The IRS Tried to Take on the Ultrawealthy. It Didn’t Go Well.

Ten years ago, the tax agency formed a special team to unravel the complex tax-lowering strategies of the nation’s wealthiest people. But with big money — and Congress — arrayed against the team, it never had a chance.

Where in the U.S. Are You Most Likely to Be Audited by the IRS?

A new study shows dramatic regional differences in who gets audited. The hardest hit? Poor workers across the country.

Senators Urge IRS to Focus on Big-Time Tax Cheats, Citing ProPublica Stories

Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and three fellow senators say the agency should do more to tackle financial crimes, even in the face of crippling budget cuts.

Who’s More Likely to Be Audited: A Person Making $20,000 — or $400,000?

If you claim the earned income tax credit, whose average recipient makes less than $20,000 a year, you’re more likely to face IRS scrutiny than someone making twenty times as much. How a benefit for the working poor was turned against them.

How the IRS Was Gutted

An eight-year campaign to slash the agency’s budget has left it understaffed, hamstrung and operating with archaic equipment. The result: billions less to fund the government. That’s good news for corporations and the wealthy.

You Don’t Earn Much and You’re Being Audited by the IRS. Now What?

Millions of low-income families rely on the earned income tax credit. We took an IRS audit notice sent to one taxpayer who’d claimed the EITC and annotated it to help explain what it really means.

After Budget Cuts, the IRS’ Work Against Tax Cheats Is Facing “Collapse”

Audits and criminal referrals are down sharply since Congress cut the tax agency’s budget and management changed priorities.

When You Can’t Afford to Go Bankrupt

There’s ample evidence many people don’t file for bankruptcy simply because they can’t pay an attorney. It’s a fixable problem.

Newly Defanged, Top Consumer Protection Agency Drops Investigation of High-Cost Lender

In the latest sign that the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is pulling back from aggressive enforcement, it dropped an investigation triggered by a 2013 ProPublica story about a lender that charges triple-digit interest rates.

Cómo se cometen estafas de bancarrotas con impunidad en Los Ángeles

En la principal ciudad de California, estafadores se aprovechan de propietarios que arriesgan perder sus hogares. Los latinos son uno de los grupos más afectados.

How to Get Away With Bankruptcy Fraud

Los Angeles is the nation’s hub for bankruptcy crime. Scammers prey on struggling homeowners with little fear of getting caught, because criminal enforcement of bankruptcy laws is rare.

‘This Is Unacceptable’: ProPublica Story on Bankruptcy in Memphis Prompts City Council Soul-Searching

The story detailed how the city’s poor black residents are steered into bankruptcy plans they are doomed to fail. Two City Council members are looking at a series of solutions to address the underlying problems.

Without Fanfare, Equifax Makes Bankruptcy Change That Affects Hundreds of Thousands

For years, an Equifax policy has treated some Chapter 13 filers differently than the other two major credit rating agencies. After ProPublica asked about it, the company said it would change the policy.

Chicago’s Bankruptcy Boom

ProPublica’s analysis of racial disparities in bankruptcy revealed a skyrocketing number of filings in Chicago’s black neighborhoods. But most of the cases will fall apart before the debts are wiped away.

Data Analysis: Bankruptcy and Race in America

An in-depth discussion of racial patterns in bankruptcy filings and outcomes

In the South, Bankruptcy Is Different, Especially for Black Debtors

Only in the South is Chapter 13 the predominant form of bankruptcy. We mapped Chapter 13’s usage to show that it breaks not only along regional, but also racial lines.

Bankruptcy: What’s the Difference Between Chapter 7 and Chapter 13?

Key differences between the chapters make choosing the right one critical for success. Using our analysis, we explain how they work and how people fare under each.

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