Skip to comments.The IRS: An Outlaw Tax Collector
Posted on 05/13/2013 9:12:52 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
On March 22, 2012, IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman testified under oath before the House Oversight Committee, which was inquiring as to whether the agency was targeting tea-party groups and other conservative organizations filing for tax-exempt status. He firmly and repeatedly denied that any such thing was happening. Theres absolutely no targeting, he said. A little over a year later, the IRS confirmed that it was in fact improperly targeting not only tea-party groups but also Jewish religious nonprofits and organizations inspired by Glenn Becks 9/12 Project.
Lori Lerner, the IRS official in charge of tax-exempt organizations, told reporters on Friday that her superiors had been unaware of the actions, which she blamed on a handful of low-level employees in a Cincinnati office. But the next day, the Associated Press confirmed that well before Shulmans substantially untrue testimony before Congress, the IRS had convened a meeting with its chief lawyer to discuss the very thing the commissioner said was not happening. In early 2012, the IRS adopted a new variation on the policy, flagging the applications from, among others, organizations educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, according to an internal report.
The IRSs explanation was perfectly Washingtonian: Mistakes were made. But the agencys actions do not appear to be mere mistakes; they give every indication of being misconduct with malice aforethought, a campaign of intimidation conducted by political partisans misusing government power and government resources. If so, those actions are not only unethical but criminal.
The organizations that were improperly targeted were subject to inquisitorial questioning in violation of IRS policies and practices. The IRS improperly demanded that conservative groups disclose lists of donors 501(c)(4) donors can remain anonymous under the law as well as political literature, contacts with political figures and activists, even activities of friends and family members not related to the organizations in question. Jewish groups were quizzed about their theological beliefs and their opinions on Israel.
There are at least three separate categories of wrongdoing here. The first is the targeting of groups that were believed to be critical of the Obama administration or the federal government in general. The second is the demanding of information that was irrelevant to the tax-status questions at hand, which would have been wrong even if the practice had been applied evenhandedly across the political spectrum. The third is the misleading of Congress and the public about these practices.
The IRS is one of the most powerful agencies in the federal government, with fearsome powers that the Department of Homeland Security can only dream of having. (Does DHS subject Americans to mandatory annual questioning about their personal lives, family arrangements, finances, business practices, travel, etc.?) It has a history of being used as a tool of political retaliation, not only by the Nixon administration but at least as far back as Franklin D. Roosevelt. An agency with that kind of power, with access to sensitive information on every individual, business, church, charity, and school in the country, must conduct itself according to the very highest standards. The IRS does not.
This episode is not the only reason we have had to question the rectitude of the IRSs conduct in recent years. Somehow, Mitt Romneys tax returns managed to be leaked, as did documents from American Crossroads, the organization associated with Republican strategist Karl Rove. The misuse of confidential IRS documents is a crime, and a serious one.
To target individuals and organizations because of their political and religious beliefs is a serious offense to our constitutional order. To use federal employees, offices, and records to do so is the misappropriation of government funds and other resources.
The IRS is a bureau of the Treasury Department, which means that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew bears some responsibility here, though the bulk of the misdeeds seem to have been done before his tenure. Rather than disclosing these actions voluntarily, the IRS has attempted to hide them and to obscure the culpability of its employees. Lois Lerner told National Review on Friday that no disciplinary action had been taken against any employee, and then retracted that statement, saying that she would not discuss the subject. But disciplinary action at least is clearly called for. The IRSs failure to be fully forthcoming on this issue, and the lack of satisfactory steps toward reform and transparency, must weigh substantially upon our evaluation of Lews leadership.
This is a matter for congressional investigation, which will be forthcoming, but also for criminal investigation, which to our knowledge is not yet under way. President Obama and his Treasury secretary owe the country a full and honest explanation of how this was allowed to happen. But if Benghazi has shown anything, it is that this administration cannot be counted upon for such assessments. It therefore falls to the relevant oversight committees in the House and the Senate to flush out the truth of this matter, and to recommend legislative reforms to bring this outlaw agency to heel.
Sometimes the best response is no response at all.
Like El Rushbo just said, the party of ‘the little guy’ always blames the little guy (AKA ‘low level workers’) for their leadership’s partisan crimes.
I’ve heard it both ways, but evidently he really was a Republican Bush appointee. And before that he headed a commission to “reform” the IRS.
Why did this story come out now? Sure it distracts from Benghazi but not enough to remove the issue. I believe that it has more to do with implementing Obamacare with the IRS as the enforcer. This provides a way to remove the entire IRS leadership and replace them with Obamacare enforcers. Both parties will demand the resignation of those involved and the replacements will be worse. Obama doesn’t get any blame and takes credit for clearing out the corruption. Some of those who lose their jobs may even get political payoffs for going along with the plan.
We could live without the IRS easily enough and in fact we could live without an income tax. But we’d need to replace our entire money system in the bargain. The baic idea has been to use federal debt as a primary basis for money; the income tax is meant only to pay interest on the debt, the idea was to roll the principle over in perpetuity.
Hmmmmmmmmmm - - - ?
Wasn’t The Sheriff of Nottingham collecting taxes for The Obamanation back then in 2010 named Timmy?
Timmy “the tax-cheat” something or other - - - ?
I remember, it was Timmy Gee!
Question for the day: “Will our sorry Congressional RINOs bring Ex-Sheriff of Nottingham Timmy “the tax cheat” Gee in for a little Q & A?”
Second Question for the day: “Will our sorry Congressional RINOs have the POLITICAL MOTIVATION to seek to put Ex Sheriff of Nottingham Timmy Gee in an American version of The Tower of London?” (Robin Hood would have done so in a Sherwood Forest Minute!)
I think congress should be debating the “changes” that need to be made at the IRS. They should start with “restructuring”, and the dismissal of those who “violated their positions of trust.”
Congress might even consider “double blind” tax evaluations, which would mean that random audits are indeed random; unless directed by a tax court judge with probable cause to believe that the tax code had been violated, based on a referral from an outside agency.
In turn, this would force the simplification and consolidation of the tax code, so that a tax court judge could make that determination.
he had six months on his appointment.
the LAWYER who actually did the work and supervised the investigating is an obama appointee.
The Bush appointee is irrelevant.
A Republican who was not satisfied with the pat denial asked the IRS Inspector General to investigate. That report is scheduled for release soon. The "casual" mention of the scandal was an attempt to spin it for Obama before the actual report is released.
This was not some low level flunkie's doing. The Cincinnati office is the centralized national office that reviews tax exempt organizations. Either the Commissioner didn't bother to ask what his organization was doing, or his own people lied to him.
It is time to stop the insanity in DC. The world deserves much better from its lone super power (hat tip Clint).
Something to keep in mind, in Watergate, it was not the commissioner of IRS who made tax returns available to the White House. When they say low level employees, they don’t mean some clerk in some office picking up the phone and saying hey, bring me all the patriot applications. This is something that is approved at the head of services level, just below the commission and he more than likely is not informed of what they are doing.
Lois my dear, you were aware of this or you were asleep at the switch. No wonder no personnel actions are planned.
Imagine what would be happening now if the IRS had been targeting Muslim groups instead of Jewish groups.
Pandemonium would be breaking out, fomented by the angry leaders of Muslim groups. Just a simple cartoon of Mohammed has been known to set off deadly riots.
Where, oh, where, are our Jewish leaders?
First they came for Jewish organizations’ tax returns and they did nothing...