800-Numbers Lead to Runaround as Banks Refuse to Modify Mortgages

Rule of Thumb: If they can’t execute a release or satisfaction of the mortgage, then they can’t foreclose. And if they did, it is reversible.

Whistle-Blower: Banks Give Homeowners the Runaround

“In our managers meeting, which can last eight or nine hours, we probably addressed mortgage modifications five minutes or less,” the banker said.

Editor’s Note: The reason is simple. They want the property. They can get the property because of pandemic confusion over securitization. They can’t modify mortgages as easy as they can foreclose. They don’t have the right, title, interest or authorization to modify mortgages because they never advanced a dime for the funding of those mortgages. But because non-judicial states make it real easy for anyone with a bogus piece of paper to foreclose and get title to the property, and because investors who are the real creditors are not asserting their right, title and interest, it’s easy for a pretender lender to pick up a free house.

And due to heavy caseloads and poor understanding of securitized mortgages in judicial states, the same rules seem to apply as non-judicial states — homeowners are generally not heard on the merits of their defenses and claims. The foreclosure proceeds, automatic stays are lifted in bankruptcy court, all because the Judge is not directed to look at the paperwork.

By DAVID MUIR
March 23, 2010
// A vice president for one of the nation’s biggest banks claims customers looking for help in lowering their mortgage payments are often told to call an 800 number — where he says representatives then give homeowners the runaround.

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David Muir gets answers from a vice president of one of the biggest banks.

The bank executive spoke to ABC News on the condition that ABC News not show his face or name him, because he feared coming forward would cost him his job.

Of the 1.1 million homeowners who’ve signed up for the federal program aimed at avoiding foreclosures, only 168,000, or 15 percent, of homeowners have had their mortgages permanently modified.

“In our managers meeting, which can last eight or nine hours, we probably addressed mortgage modifications five minutes or less,” the banker said.

Americans Frustrated by Banks

Jay and LeeAnn Givan are two of those frustrated Americans who reached out to ABC News about their banks. They say they’ve run out of time and money. Both lost their jobs in the recession, and they have been begging their bank since last September to modify or refinance their mortgage. Six months later, all the paperwork and phone calls have amounted to nothing.

“The bank’s not interested in helping us,” LeAnn said. “Just a couple of weeks ago, Jay was on the phone for two hours being transferred from department to another department until finally somebody told him, ‘Look, we can’t help you until you stop paying on your house.'”

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The couple made its last mortgage payment last week.

“I have heard that,” the banker said. “That will affect their credit card, their insurance, [have] a big effect on their credit history.”

The banker described homeowners pleading to him for help, but he said his bank is not interested in modifying mortgages, even after taxpayers helped bail out the nation’s biggest banks.

“It’s just not happening,” said the banker.

The banker said there is significant pressure on bank employees to get customers to take on more accounts than they need because of the late fees and penalty fees that will then co

I have watched the news story about Banks helping with Foreclosure etc…..THEY WILL NOT HELP if they are WELLS FARGO…..They were terrible with my 82 year old mothers mortgage.After being a loyal customer for years shw was not able to get help from me with her mortgae because I was laid off and at that time for a year already….They ASSURED us that a modification was to be done and to NOT PAY anything until it was completed because those payments would be included in new mortgage….we called for months and tried to make some payments only to have house start into foreclosure with their lawyers, be served embarassing papers and be put into undue stress. Went thru Wells President John Stump and 4 other Board members to only be told BANK OWNING YOUR MORTGAGE WILL NEVER AND WOULD NEVER HAVE DONE A MODIFICATION. Why were we told it was being worked on for over 6 months…why a run around like that to a senior citizen who has worked her whole life. End result was COME UP WITH $4500 IN 2 WEEKS or bye bye home your out of there. Terrible to do to anyone. I had found out we were one of 10’s of thousand that Wells did exactly this to also. Just google that problem and you will see. SHAME ON WELLS FARGO and all these banks taking money from us and the government and putting people in worse trouble.
barkleyandme1 11:16 AM
Americans like to sue over everything. Seems like there is grounds for a class action suit against the banks. They used my money for what seems to be strictly their benefit and bonuses. Where are all the lawyers now. Let’s bring suit against the banks for not fulfiling their obligation to the publc. We bailed them out in good faith and they turned around and screwed us.
tjbmeb 9:33 AM

S.W.Florida..I have applied for a modification with Select Portofolio Service, as of this date I have NOT received any information other that it is under review. After reading all the horror stories on this site. I have deceiced that if the modification doesn’t go thru I will foreclose. I will walk away with no hesitation. Why should I pay good money for a bad investment. My money was solid when I purchased the home. However with all the greed from lenders over inflating homes I have no pity. I worked too hard for the American Dream only to be disappointed by Wall Street greed. Come on Obama put your money where your mouth is!

Forensic Analysis: Unions Amass Armory of Research on Foreclosures of Securitized Mortgages

“We did not service the loan,” Mr. Dale said. “We did not originate the loan, and we were not the financial entity that placed it into foreclosure. Do you understand what a trustee does?”
Editor’s Note: Well, Yes Mr. Dale, we do understand what a trustee does and can do —- nothing. So why are you initiating foreclosures if you say that a trustee doesn’t do that?
Mr. Dale is reading from the end of the enabling documents instead of the first page where it looks like Trustee is really a trustee and that there really is a trust and that the trust holds assets. But by the time you read to the end of the document, the trustee is not a trustee, there is no trust and even if there was, there is nothing in the trust.
It is all an illusion. The “Trustee” is a “contingent agent” for a “conduit” (REMIC) that holds nothing. The enabling document is nothing more than the equivalent of an operating agreement in an LLC.
The “pool of loans” is owned by the investors who, as creditors, purchased mortgage backed derivative securities whose value is derived SOLELY from the promise to pay executed by the homeowners.
March 24, 2010

Unions Make Strides as They Attack Banks

By STEVEN GREENHOUSE and LOUISE STORY

When the city of Los Angeles started looking into its complex financial contracts with banks earlier this year, some council members turned to an unusual corner for financial advice: labor unions.

Turns out that union leaders had amassed an armory of research on derivatives, mortgage foreclosures and even Wall Street pay as part of their effort to hold bankers accountable for the economic pain they helped cause in Los Angeles and across the country.

Unions have criticized Wall Street before. But their attacks have taken on a new shape, both in ferocity and style, over the last 18 months, ever since the federal government doled out billions of dollars in bank bailouts.

Why? Labor leaders say the fortunes of banks and unions are linked more than people realize. Wall Street manages union pension portfolios worth hundreds of billions of dollars. Much of that is invested in financial institutions, giving unions a loud voice as shareholders.

Then there are all the unionized workers whose fates are indirectly shaped by the world of high finance. The jobs of hundreds of thousands of union members, like police officers and teachers, have been threatened by municipal budget cuts, made worse in some cases by exotic investments gone bad.

More abstractly, union leaders are framing their fight against Wall Street as a symbolic one, underscoring America’s large disparities in wealth and wages.

“Many unions see that they need to be responsible for not just members’ needs at the bargaining table, but other hardships in their lives, like foreclosures and high mortgage costs,” said Peter Dreier, a political science professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Unions are holding up many of their own members as victims of the banks’ bad bets, like subprime mortgages, and are providing a steady stream of research in an effort to demystify the exotic financial products that they say are harming dozens of cities. Unions have also helped underwrite Americans for Financial Reform, a prominent group pushing for further bank regulation.

Labor leaders were among the first to call for the resignation of Bank of America’s chief executive, who did retire months later. Unions issued a scathing report on bank bonuses, months before the federal pay czar presented his findings, and they criticized Goldman Sachs’s bonus pool just before the bank said its chief would receive only stock.

This month, the A.F.L.-C.I.O., the nation’s main labor federation, has organized 200 protests nationwide to publicly shame bankers, calling for new taxes on bankers’ bonuses and on speculative short-term financial transactions — in the hope of collecting tens of billions of dollars to finance a job creation program.

“They played Russian roulette with our economy, and while Wall Street cashed in, they left Main Street holding the bag,” Richard L. Trumka, the A.F.L.-C.I.O.’s president, said last Friday at a rally in Philadelphia. “They gorge themselves in a trough of taxpayers’ dollars, while we struggle to make ends meet.”

Labor is directly at odds with Wall Street on unionization drives and many other matters. Banks and private equity firms own stakes in many businesses that unions would like to unionize, like nursing home chains and food service companies. Labor groups like the Service Employees International Union and the A.F.L.-C.I.O. are pressuring financial companies not to oppose union membership drives.

It is hard to know for certain whether the unions’ efforts have affected decisions made by Wall Street firms. But for cities like Los Angeles, feeling the squeeze of lower tax receipts, the service employees’ pressure campaign seemed to have had an impact.

“They knew more about our own water deal than I knew,” said Richard Alarcón, a Los Angeles councilman, referring to an interest-rate swap between the city’s water system and the Bank of New York Mellon that converted the system’s variable-rate bonds into bonds with a fixed rate. “They also knew the dynamics of swap deals, and they were very helpful.”

As the city faces a deficit of nearly $500 million, the council was unhappy that Los Angeles would have to pay Bank of New York millions of dollars a year.

“Our members don’t like it any more than other Americans when cities have less firefighters, less teachers or less police officers,” said Andy Stern, president of the service employees’ union.

The labor protests against the banks sometimes have murky targets. This month, service employees joined community leaders on the City Hall steps in Oakland, Calif., to denounce Goldman Sachs for arranging interest-rate swaps that have the city paying the bank millions a year.

After that rally, union leaders led a march to a local Citigroup branch. Goldman declined to comment, but a Citigroup representative scoffed.

“We weren’t even involved in those deals,” said Alex Samuelson, a Citigroup spokesman. “We were just a symbolic place to go and rail against Wall Street. You can’t go to a Goldman Sachs branch.”

Many bankers criticize the protests, saying they make lots of noise but often accomplish little. Steve Bartlett, president of the industry’s Financial Services Roundtable, who has been the target of several union-led protests, including one outside his home on a Sunday morning, said, “Protests can be misguided or even damaging to your cause.”

While union leaders say they are championing the concerns of Main Street, their antibank campaign has certainly advanced some of labor’s longtime objectives, like unionizing workers.

For instance, the S.E.I.U. has pressed several banks and private equity firms to agree to allow card check — a process that makes unionization easier — at companies in which they own stakes.

Service employees officials say they urged Goldman Sachs, which owns part of the food service company Aramark, to get Aramark to accept card check and not oppose an organizing drive. In December, the union’s president, Mr. Stern, even met with Goldman’s chief executive, Lloyd C. Blankfein, about universal health care and other labor-related issues.

Labor unions are using some of their members’ hard-luck stories to frame their battle as one between the haves and the have-nots, and in some cases that tactic is advancing the unions’ traditional goals in contract talks.

In February, for example, the service employees’ union publicized that one of its members cleaned the office of U.S. Bank’s chief in Minneapolis. That janitor, Rosalina Gomez, was facing foreclosure, and the union publicized that U.S. Bank had purchased her home in the foreclosure.

Steve Dale, a spokesman for the bank, said the union was attacking U.S. Bank even though JPMorgan Chase was the bank servicing Ms. Gomez’s mortgage. U.S. Bank, he said, was just the trustee, holding the loan for a mortgage bond.

“We did not service the loan,” Mr. Dale said. “We did not originate the loan, and we were not the financial entity that placed it into foreclosure. Do you understand what a trustee does?”

That aside, when the union threatened to have Ms. Gomez approach U.S. Bank’s chief, Richard K. Davis, at an awards luncheon, the bank rushed to set up a meeting between Ms. Gomez and JPMorgan. Fifty union supporters were at the site of the luncheon to conduct a silent vigil, with several reporters on hand.

Also at that time, the union was in contract negotiations with Ms. Gomez’s employer, the janitorial company that cleans U.S. Bank’s headquarters. Javier Morillo-Alicea, a leader of the union’s Minneapolis local, said its effort to embarrass the bank helped persuade the cleaning company to reach a contract that raised wages and provided better health insurance for the janitors.

“We put a lot of pressure on the bank,” he said, “and that led to a really good contract settlement in a tough economy.”

“uncertain line between hope and despair”

The entities foreclosing don’t have ANYTHING at stake. They have no stake and yet they are still getting homes for nothing

Editor’s Note: The federal plan is good as to its intent but unnecessary if the law was applied. Sure the bailout SHOULD apply to anyone who got stuck with one of these securitized mortgages. it clouded their title and stuck them with loan products that were unworkable while they were told by the experts at the table that everything was fine.
People have the question wrong: If the reality of the situation is not addressed SOMEBODY is going to get a free house — either the homeowner or some corporation set up by Wall Street that never lent a dime. It isn’t about why should a reckless homeowner get a free house, it is about why should a player who gambled with other people’s money get a free house. At least the homeowner has something at stake even if they had no down payment.
The entities foreclosing don’t have ANYTHING at stake. They have no stake and yet they are still getting homes for nothing. People are mad about he federal bailout. Now the same players are getting a foreclosure bailout, or better stated, a gift courtesy of the taxpayer and a reluctant judicial system.
March 22, 2010

Microcosm of Housing Crisis on an Arizona Street

By LOUISE STORY

CAVE CREEK, Ariz. — The uncertain line between hope and despair divides this exurb of Phoenix, where the trim stucco houses used to sell so briskly.

It winds around the swimming pools and the pebbled yards of East Montgomery Road like a slow-burning fuse.

On one side are people like the Setbackens, Gary and Cissie, who moved here from Washington State and, with prudence, have managed to pay their mortgage bill month after month. On the other side are those like Kelley Carter, who never dreamed that home prices would fall so hard, and got in over their heads.

Two in five homeowners in this sprawling development 30 miles northeast of Phoenix are underwater on their mortgages. And that reality is wearing away household budgets and people’s patience.

Arizona is one of five states that, with money from Washington, hopes to help at least some of these people hold on to their homes. Under a new, federally financed pilot program for the hardest-hit housing markets, state officials will decide who will get a homeowner bailout, and who will not.

The idea is as controversial in Washington as it is here. Do the neighbors next door who lived beyond their means — the ones who, say, bought that house they could not afford, or who binged on home equity loans to buy new cars and flat-panel TVs — really deserve to be bailed out with taxpayer dollars? Do they deserve to have some of their debts forgiven? And is that fair to the cautious ones who paid their mortgages?

For the people of Cave Creek, the answers will fall to state officials like Michael Trailor, the director of the Arizona housing department.

A former real estate developer, Mr. Trailor knows firsthand about the perils of the property market.

“I feel for all of them,” Mr. Trailor said of the struggling homeowners. “But we do not have the funds to help all of them. If we can help 6,000 people, which ones should we help?”

The federal government will pay for pilot programs in Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada with $1.5 billion from the federal banking rescue. That figure is a small fraction of the funds that would be needed to help all of the people at risk. Arizona, for instance, received $125 million. If it allocates $30,000 of aid for each residence, 4,166 homeowners would benefit. But the Phoenix area is bracing for as many as 50,000 foreclosures this year alone.

Mr. Trailor said he was reluctant to help homeowners with “self-inflicted wounds,” like those who overspent or cashed out the equity in their homes during the bubble years. He wants the banks to match the public money being used for debt forgiveness, and he is focusing on people whose incomes have fallen but who still hold jobs.

He is considering an approach known as “earned forgiveness,” where the state and the banks promise to forgive mortgage debt later on, but only if the homeowners stay in their homes and keep making their payments.

The question of who deserves help rouses neighbors here. Not long ago, home values seemed to reach relentlessly toward the bright blue sky.

Then the boom went bust. Home prices in the Phoenix area have collapsed by 50 percent since mid-2006, leaving many owners with mortgages that are higher than their property values. One in 10 homes in this development in Cave Creek have moved through foreclosure since 2008, according to Netvaluecentral, a real estate tracking company in Glendale, Ariz. Half of the homes here are owned by banks or are being sold for less than the value of their mortgages.

“Underwater homes make it highly likely people will walk away, and if they do, these foreclosures are going to push everyone’s prices down,” said Brett Barry, a real estate agent here. “People need to realize that we’re in this together.”

The new reality is evident on East Montgomery Road, where the bust is playing out in a variety of ways.

There are the Setbackens, at 4355, who arrived in 1993 and paid down their mortgage even as home prices skyrocketed.

Across the street are the Chatburns, Tim and Leslie. They also arrived in the 1990s, before prices exploded, but struggled recently to keep up with the bills after an injury kept Mr. Chatburn out of work.

Mr. Chatburn, an air-conditioning repairman, used to say that bailing out his neighbors would be unfair, but he changed his mind after watching news programs about the rescues of big financial companies like the American International Group.

“I started thinking about all this money we paid as taxpayers to the banks,” he said, “and I thought, ‘Why don’t we take care of our own a little bit?’ ”

Ms. Carter, at 4344, arrived in 2005, as the bubble was inflating. She took out tens of thousands of dollars in home equity for repairs and other items, and by this year, she was underwater on her mortgage by $86,000. A single mother, she moved out this month, days before her home was sold in a short sale, which meant her mortgage lender allowed her to sell for less than the value of her mortgage and the lender took the loss.

And then there is the young couple with a toddler, at 4343. They moved out on the same day as Ms. Carter, before a scheduled foreclosure of their home that was $115,000 underwater. The couple, who asked not to be named, also bought near the peak and took out a home equity loan to pay off their student loans and other debts. Then, a year ago, they stopped paying their mortgage, after both of them lost their jobs for a time. They now have office jobs again.

Mr. Setbacken, a salesman, said he had warned his neighbors not to get in over their heads but they did not listen. He and his wife might have stepped up to a bigger house if they, like so many of their neighbors, had gambled recklessly on the housing market, he said.

“Everybody that I know that got themselves in trouble was because of one word: greed,” said Mr. Setbacken, 63, a former Marine who remains in tip-top physical condition. “I have no sympathy for any of them, on the financial end. When I hear about dropping the amount you actually owe, I could stick my finger down my throat.”

Then the doorbell rang. It was a young girl bearing Girl Scout cookies. “My adopted granddaughter,” Mr. Setbacken announced.

The 8-year-old is Ms. Carter’s daughter, Ava. Across the street, Ms. Carter was packing up the house.

Ms. Carter said she felt guilty about leaving. With her short sale, the price of the home went down to the benefit of the new homeowner. But it dragged down prices in the neighborhood, she said.

Ms. Carter, a mother of two and a real estate agent who poses as an angel with wings on her Web site, has been through hard times before. Years ago, she considered filing for bankruptcy but then changed her mind. She said she was accountable for her actions and was making what amounted to a business decision to leave her home.

“I had to take emotion out of it,” said Ms. Carter, 36. “If I had a business, and every single month I was losing money, would I keep on paying? No, I wouldn’t.”

Sitting at her dining room table, before a large tank of fish, she recalled how she had made this a perfect home. It is one of the few on East Montgomery Road with grass in the yard, an expensive proposition in the desert. A Mercedes sits in the driveway.

She said she did not feel she deserved to have her debts forgiven, but added that if her mortgage had been lowered, she would have tried harder to stay. The worst part, she said, is that her decision will hurt Mr. Setbacken, who has watched out for her over the years. “For Gary, he’s going to have to deal with the ramifications of what I’m doing because I’m bringing his property value down,” she said. “I pray at church. I feel horrible for what I’m doing to my neighbors.”

Later, after Mr. Setbacken talked to Ms. Carter — she “cried and cried and cried,” he said — he had a change of heart. In an e-mail message, he said that perhaps wealthy Americans could donate money to aid homeowners. If he had more money himself, he might help some neighbors pay their mortgage bills.

“I have focused on the financial issues during these times and overlooked what was more important, the emotional stress that my neighbors are feeling,” Mr. Setbacken wrote. He walked down East Montgomery Road and gave a bottle of wine to the young couple facing foreclosure. It was, he said, “to help them pack.”

States Look Beyond Borders to Collect Owed Taxes

as more states catch on and start investing in more payroll auditors and data mining tools to get money back, the end result may be an arms race until every state comes out more or less evenly.
Editor’s Note: There is no better place to start than the trillions in profits from securitized mortgages and the millions of off-record transfers and transactions based upon “interests” in real property located within each state. But who has the courage to take on Wall Street?
March 21, 2010, NY Times

States Look Beyond Borders to Collect Owed Taxes

By CATHERINE RAMPELL

When Josh Beckett pitches for the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, New York collects income tax on the portion of his salary that he earned in New York State.

But what about a Boston Scientific sales representative who comes to New York to pitch medical products to a new client? New York has decided it wants a slice of that paycheck, too.

Anyone who crosses a state border for work — to make a sales call, say, or meet with a client or do a road show on Wall Street — probably owes income taxes in that state.

If you live in Boston but spend one out of 250 workdays this year in New York, you owe New York income taxes on 1/250th of your salary. And vice versa if you are a New Yorker visiting Boston — or Anywheresville, for that matter — for business.

Such laws have been on the books for decades, and they vary by state. But it is only recently, accountants and tax lawyers say, that many states appear to have picked up enforcement, expanding it beyond the wealthiest celebrities and athletes.

“The states are all hungry for revenue,” said Alan Clavette, an accountant in Newtown, Conn. “We are certainly seeing states like New York and Connecticut looking more and more for executives and everyday taxpayers who may be spending time across the border.”

The states, for their part, say better techniques for tracking tax deadbeats, not pressure to fill their budget holes, have prompted them to become more vigorous at enforcing the provision.

“We are just trying to make sure our tax laws are complied with,” said Richard D. Nicholson, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services. “That’s not driven by a need for revenue. If we’re doing more, it’s because of advances in technology. We can do analysis we could never do before with just paper.”

Once upon a time, state tax officials relied on the sports pages and celebrity magazines to see when well-known higher-earners came to town for work. (Yes, even the taxman reads Us Weekly.) For everyone else, it was largely a “don’t ask, don’t tell” world, says James W. Wetzler, the former tax commissioner for New York State, because it was not cost-effective for states to monitor every bricklayer and lawyer crossing a border.

“We tried to preserve a reasonable balance,” said Mr. Wetzler, now a director at the firm Deloitte Tax. “We wanted to avoid imposing onerous burdens on people just for us to collect small amounts of revenue.”

But now states have greater access to data warehouses that help them better track taxes owed. Real estate transactions, federal data from the Internal Revenue Service, commercial license plates, traffic tickets, bids for government construction projects — all this information, newly digitized and dumped into a computer system, can help states find tax scofflaws.

“We’re sort of getting into ‘1984’ land here,” said Kenneth T. Zemsky, an accountant and partner at Ernst & Young. “A lot of the reason they went after athletes and entertainers is that they couldn’t find the other people. Now they’re able to get those people, too.”

Still, perhaps the best enforcement mechanism may be requiring companies to withhold additional taxes from their employees’ paychecks. State auditors may not be able to monitor every border-crossing, but with corporate payroll managers as their enforcers, they don’t need to.

“Our employees call me the ‘Tax Nazi,’ ” says Dee Nelson, the corporate payroll manager at the Koniag Development Corporation, a government contractor that works on military projects. “They get really angry at me when we withhold their pay if they do a project in Utah or wherever. And I have to explain this is the law, not me just trying to be a bully.”

Ms. Nelson’s employer is based in Anchorage, but at any given time its employees are generally working in five states with five different withholding requirements. She estimates that the administrative work required for managing multistate employees adds about 10 percent to the cost of each project.

Many Fortune 500 companies contacted for this article privately acknowledged having been slightly less vigilant than Ms. Nelson about tracking the minute-by-minute movements of their thousands of employees in the past. But these companies also say that they have been subjected to payroll audits more frequently in the last few years and that tax officials have requested travel logs for highly paid employees during these audits.

In some cases auditors check to see if, say, an employee who was reimbursed for airfare to California also had California income taxes withheld from his paycheck. If not, the company can be fined.

Finding out that you owe income taxes across the border can raise your overall tax bill, if your home state has a low tax rate (or no income tax rate at all, as in a handful of states). But your tax bill may not rise by much, since most states allow you to deduct income taxes paid to another state.

The bigger burden associated with distributing your taxes to more state governments is the administrative effort it requires, for both employee and employer. Many states require filing a return for a single day’s work. For peripatetic workers like salesmen or consultants, filing a pile of additional state tax returns can become prohibitively expensive, not to mention frustrating.

“There’s 50 states out there and 50 different laws,” said Nola Wills, senior vice president and chief compliance officer at Harbor America, a financial services company near Houston. “It’s difficult for a small business to have all the information and resources to know that. In most cases their C.P.A. doesn’t know that, either.”

So long as there is still a great deal of ignorance about these laws, the states with the most aggressive tax compliance teams have the most to gain. They can siphon off more revenue from their neighboring states than the other way around, all without fear of retaliation from anyone who has the power to vote them out of office.

But as more states catch on and start investing in more payroll auditors and data mining tools to get money back, the end result may be an arms race until every state comes out more or less evenly.

“If everybody goes after everybody, nobody wins,” said Arthur R. Rosen, a New York tax lawyer and partner at McDermott Will & Emery. “In this interstate war of ‘you tax my rich guy and I tax your rich guy,’ it’s just a wash, a preposterous flurry of tax returns.”

In the meantime, states may have a new prominent target.

Last year President Obama visited at least 30 states. But, like other presidents before him, he plans to file in just one: his home state, Illinois, according to a White House official.

State tax auditors, start your engines.

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