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Sunday, January 26, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 262

IRS Logo 2Tax Analysts Blog:  Fortress Secrecy – No News Here, by Christopher Bergin (President and Publisher, Tax Analysts):

The latest chapter in Tax Analysts' ongoing efforts to investigate what did and didn’t happen in the IRS’s self-admitted abuse of power in reviewing the tax-exempt applications of mostly conservative groups was written last week. If you didn’t know, that’s not surprising, because while it got some coverage, it didn’t get a lot and in some ways that makes sense. Other than the fact that the IRS released more documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, there wasn’t much news in those documents.

The IRS released the documents in response to a court order that Tax Analysts managed to obtain after the IRS had exhausted every excuse it could think of to delay – I was waiting for "the dog ate my homework” – and continued its whining over how mean we were being in asking it to be transparent to the American people. This is the third installment of documents – documents that are training materials – that the IRS has released and, generally, they haven’t been awfully helpful. And we believe that the odds are good that the IRS's response to a document request that the agency itself agreed was important enough to get "expedited" treatment is not really a response at all.

Last week, Tax Analysts issued a press release, and in it I am quoted as saying:

Retrieving these documents was a small victory in our continuous and ever-growing fight for transparency. But it should be noted that what Tax Analysts asked for were training materials, which should be publicly available to begin with. The fact that it took us eight months, a lawsuit, and a court order to get the training materials the agency released is not, I believe, a positive sign on how the IRS is dealing with its problems.

Since then, I have had more time to think about it, and I believe that where we are is exactly where the IRS wants us to be: Nothing newsworthy here, so just move on. I strongly suggest we not move on.

Anyone familiar with my writing knows that I have bent over backwards to give the IRS the benefit of the doubt in this black eye some call the "exemption scandal." I must admit I'm getting a little tired of bending.

Back in the day, as the saying goes, I often referred to the IRS as Fortress Secrecy, a term meant to describe the agency's obsession with hiding as much of its operations as it can get away with. I am not a casual observer, and I have never seen things this bad. Everything the IRS has done in addressing the exemption scandal leads to just one conclusion: that this agency now believes it is accountable to no one other than itself. Who is responsible for that?

Commissioner Koskinen, you have a problem. President Obama, you have a problem. America, we have a problem. An agency with this much power cannot be unaccountable to the citizens it was designed to serve.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2014/01/the-irs-scandal-23.html

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