A gutted IRS is still more likely to audit low-income earners than wealthy taxpayers. The government stages the biggest auction of public lands in Utah in more than a decade. Salt Lake City Council members vote themselves a big raise.

Happy Wednesday. The IRS may be the agency that everyone loves to hate, but the simple truth is it pays the bills for the rest of government. A new investigation by ProPublica exposes the gutting of this crucial agency through budget cuts and sustained political attacks. There are fewer than 10,000 revenue agents for the first time since the early 1950s — with a 40 percent drop in audits just over the last eight years. New investigations of so-called “non-filers” plummeted from 2.4 million in 2011 to just 362,000 last year. The result? An estimated loss of some $3 billion in revenue annually. [ProPublica]

In a separate but related investigation, the nonprofit news organization found that a person making $20,000 in income is more likely to be audited than someone making $400,000. [ProPublica]

Topping the news: Environmentalists are raising the alarm about the sell-off of public lands in Utah with an auction Tuesday that was the largest in more than a decade — 154,000 acres that brought bids of $2.8 million. [Trib][DNews]

-> The Salt Lake City Council voted Tuesday night to raise council members' annual salary from $26,291 to $35,925. Supporters of the change say the raise is about supporting access to democracy and paying enough that someone doesn’t need to be rich to be able to run for local office. [Trib][DNews]

-> The state wants to conduct a full-blown health-risk study of dust from mining and construction blowing off Point of the Mountain, urging Lehi City leaders not to rely on a previous quick and dirty study to declare the dust safe. [Trib]

-> Walmart has joined the push to get rid of Utah’s 3.2 beer and allow stronger beers to be sold in grocery stores as fewer breweries are making 3.2. [FOX13viaTrib]

Tweets of the Day: From @ConanOBrien: “When Trump’s kids are bad, they get coal subsidies in their stockings.”

-> From @FoxReports: “Sen. Cotton’s young son has mastered the art of the “no comment” in the hall. He walks by our cameras, smiled and says ‘no comment’.”

-> From @seungminkim: “Omg I am stuck in a broken senate subway train save me.”

Happy Holidays. Political cornflakes wishes you all the best in this holiday season, and so that we can enjoy it, too, we’ll be taking a break after this week. Cornflakes will return to your inbox Jan. 7.

In other news: Retiring state lawmaker Jim Dabakis plans to run for Salt Lake City mayor in 2019. [Trib][DNews][Fox13][ABC4][KUTV]

-> Salt Lake City is shopping for a parcel on the city’s east side to build a new police precinct station. [Trib]

-> Rep. Mia Love said Tuesday that she does not regret calling out President Trump for his behavior after her midterm election loss, and that she never was obligated to be in lock-step with the Republican president. [Trib][DNews]

-> The Utah Department of Transportation has been buying up homes in Midvale to make way for an I-15 widening project. But residents complain and police confirm that the vacant houses have attracted squatters and vandals. [Trib]

-> An email about an office holiday potluck for Utah state government employees temporarily overwhelmed more than 20,000 email accounts because of an accidental reply-all response. [Trib]

-> A legislator and Inland Port Authority Board member complained community activists and some board members are slowing down progress on the planned massive distribution center in Salt Lake City. [Trib][KUER]

-> A group advocating for Utah restaurants has abandoned the fight against Utah’s new 0.05 DUI law. [Fox13]

-> Utah is looking to hire an individual to oversee all things marijuana in the state with passage of the new medical cannabis act. [Fox13]

-> Concrete bridge beams made to support widening I-15 in Lehi are longer than the Leaning Tower of Pisa. [Trib][ABC4] test test test

-> Pat Bagley illustrates Orrin Hatch’s soft-on-crime approach when it comes to President Donald Trump. [Trib]

Nationally: President Trump bickered with Democratic leaders on Tuesday with cameras rolling as he repeated several times that he will shut down the government if they don’t pass his proposal to build a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border. He also claimed that the U.S. military will build it if Congress doesn’t provide funding. [APviaTrib][NYTimes][CNN][Fox][WSJ]

-> House Speaker Nancy Pelosi went head-to-head with the president at the White House meeting. “Don’t characterize the strength that I bring,” she challenged the commander in chief. [NYTimes][CNN]

-> The bipartisan criminal justice bill will go up for a vote before the new year, proposing changes to the prisoning and sentencing law system. [NYTimes]

Got a tip? A birthday, wedding or anniversary to announce? Send us a note to cornflakes@sltrib.com. And if you want Cornflakes to arrive in your email inbox each morning, subscribe here.

-- Dan Harrie and Cara MacDonald