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Saturday, October 28, 2006

Politics and the IRS

Wednesday:  Commissioner Mark Everson announces that the IRS will postpone collection activities against taxpayers in areas struck by Hurricane Katrina until next year.  (A one-year extension of filing deadlines expired October 16.)

Thursday:  David Cay Johnston reports in the New York Times (I.R.S. Going Slow Before Election) that four former IRS commissioners (Donald Alexander, Sheldon Cohen, Jerome Kurtz & Charles Rossotti) criticized the decision to defer collection enforcement because of the coming elections and Everson's "close ties" to the Bush White House:  Former Commissioner Jerome Kurtz, who served under President Jimmy Carter, responded, "Never, never, never," when asked if he would have considered delaying broad-based enforcement actions like sending notices because of any election, national or local. "Oh my God, that is unthinkable," Mr. Kurtz said.

FridayAP and Bloomberg News report that Everson denied that politics entered into the decision to delay enforcement of taxpayers in those areas:  "There's no politics in this," Everson said. "As to the idea that I'm somehow close to the president, I wasn't even invited to the White House Christmas party last year."

Saturday:  The New York Times published an editorial:  No Taxes Until After the Election:  The possibility that Mr. Everson is wielding power in ways to please his boss, President Bush, is especially disturbing given that he has courted that suspicion before. After the administration failed repeatedly this year to achieve its goal of repealing the estate tax, the I.R.S. moved to eliminate the jobs of nearly half of the agency’s lawyers who audit estate tax returns. Mr. Everson’s explanation that the employees were no longer needed was unconvincing because the agency would not release enough data for researchers to independently verify his claim. Mr. Everson needs to admit his mistakes, rather than trying to say they were not mistakes at all. And to make the I.R.S. more transparent. And to stay out of politics.

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IRS News, Political News | Permalink

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