TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Friday, March 18, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1044

IRS Logo 2Christian Post, The Best Reason to Abolish the IRS:

Readers of the Christian Post are familiar with the IRS scandal directed against Tea Party related organizations. The misuse of the IRS as a political weapon did not begin with President Obama and suppression of the Tea Party however. A particularly notorious user of the IRS as a political weapon was President Nixon. If Nixon had not resigned the Presidency, he almost certainly would have been successfully impeached, in large measure due to his misuse of the IRS.

These two examples only begin to reveal the degree to which the IRS has been used against the American people and against American principles of liberty. More examples are provided in a blog by James Bovard, "The Sordid History of IRS Political Abuse."

According to David Burnham, author of A Law Unto Itself: Power, Politics, and the IRS, "the records show that Franklin Delano Roosevelt may have set the stage for the use of the tax agency for political purposes".

Roosevelt used the IRS to attack political opponents such at Sen. Huey Long, Rep. Hamilton Fish, and former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, among others. (For Secretary Mellon, this was an example of when you live by the sword, you die by the sword.) Roosevelt also used the IRS to attack newspaper publishers Hearst and Annenberg, an indirect attack on freedom of the press which is a First Amendment freedom in the Bill of Rights.

Roosevelt did more than use the IRS to attack his opponents; he also abused his power to protect his allies. Roosevelt obstructed justice when he put a stop to an IRS investigation into the illegal massive campaign contributions from a federal contractor to then Rep. Lyndon Johnson. Perhaps Lyndon Johnson came to appreciate the power of the IRS from this episode.

Only a few years later Johnson used the IRS to prevent churches from the free exercise of religion. He put into legislation a restriction that churches could lose tax exempt status if they address certain "political" topics. The IRS continues to undermine religious freedom, the very first freedom listed in the Bill of Rights, since Johnson's blatantly unconstitutional legislation remains untested in the courts.

President Kennedy has a prominent place in this Presidential Hall of Shame. Kennedy aggressively pushed the IRS into forming the Ideological Organizations Audit Project to go after conservative groups that criticized his agenda. The IRS was thus used to suppress freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Kennedy also went after private individuals who stood in his way, using the IRS to punish executives in the steel industry with audits when they pushed back against his heavy-handed industrial policies.

President Nixon however, remains the poster boy for Presidential abuse of the IRS to punish and harass one's opponents. ...

Anyone who thinks that politically based IRS attacks on basic American freedoms can be prevented by more legislation or electing "good" people is not paying attention. The corruption of power is inherent in a tax system as complex as our own which is controlled by politically motivated people. ...

The basic freedoms we love are endangered by the continued existence of an endlessly complex tax system enforced by a massive and politically controlled IRS. Religious liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, academic freedom and freedom of assembly have already been attacked by the IRS.

Defend freedom and abolish the IRS.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/03/the-irs-scandal-day-1044.html

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Comments

Proposals to abolish the IRS are nonsense. You can't have a functioning government without a tax collection agency.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Mar 18, 2016 8:43:22 AM

FDR also had the IRS look at Charles Lindbergh because of opposition to FDR's foreign policy in 1940.

Posted by: thenextbubble | Mar 18, 2016 9:30:00 AM

Let's all agree to agree on this. The first thing we should do to simplify our tax system is get rid of the tax exemption for churches. How's that for a start?

Posted by: Publius Novus | Mar 18, 2016 9:33:34 AM

For once I agree with Publius Nauseous, except that I would eliminate all forms of tax exemption including foundations, hospitals and Universities. The whole kit and kaboodle.

Posted by: Teapartydoc | Mar 18, 2016 3:06:39 PM

Mr. Teapartydoc: Amen. Aside from simplifying the tax code, it would also remove unnecessary distortions from the economy.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Mar 19, 2016 8:26:40 AM

Count me in. Tax every organization on its net income and let market forces adjust to the removal of this distortion.

Posted by: AMT buff | Mar 19, 2016 3:51:09 PM

Reducing the government to its Constitutional limits and ending the Federal Reserve would allow the country to end the IRS and go back to financing itself as it did before 1916. If I am going to have to pay taxes, however, I want to be able to earmark where I want my taxes to go. At least that way, those areas not receiving taxes could be revealed and abolished and I would not have to support some stupid takeover of some country that has not done any harm to me.

Posted by: Lou | Mar 29, 2016 6:49:37 PM