TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 957

IRS Logo 2Washington Post, Republicans ‘Rein in’ the IRS in New Budget After Years of Grievances:

There is no love lost between Republicans in Congress and the Internal Revenue Service, whether it’s their dislike for the tax code, the current tax commissioner or their fury at the agency’s treatment a few years ago of conservative groups.

With many lawmakers still smarting over that controversy, the GOP used the budget deal reached by House and Senate negotiators this week to tighten the reins on the IRS with a series of little-noticed Mother-May-I provisions.

They’re largely symbolic. But they speak loudly. ...

Its employees must not use personal email accounts for work communications, a practice that got both Hillary Clinton and Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the scandal over tax-exempt groups in trouble. ...

And it cannot target groups for scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs, new language repeated in three separate provisions of the bill. ...

Republicans investigated the IRS for more than two years after agents were discovered to have subjected conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status to additional scrutiny. In October, they moved to impeach Commissioner John Koskinen, days after the Justice Department formally closed its investigation of the scandal without filing criminal charges. They accused him of erasing back-up tapes containing thousands of emails written by Lerner.

After the budget deal was announced this week, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) crowed in a press release, “The House is Reining in the IRS.” “House Republicans have worked since the IRS scandal to rein in this unaccountable agency and make sure no American citizen has their fundamental rights infringed upon,” McCarthy wrote. “In the upcoming spending bill, we put severe constraints on the IRS to stop the abuse.” ...

Democrats did not rush to condemn the new budget provisions. John Lewis (D-Ga.), the top Democrat on the oversight panel of the House Ways and Means Committee, said he generally agreed with them.

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