TaxProf Blog

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1230

IRS Logo 2Americans for Tax Reform, Koskinen's IRS Failed to Search Five of Six Locations for Lois Lerner Emails:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen will appear before the House Judiciary Committee to defend himself against impeachment charges following his role in the Lois Lerner targeting scandal.

Koskinen was appointed to lead the IRS after promising to bring transparency and openness to the embattled agency. He has failed.

The IRS failed to search five of six possible sources of electronic media for Lois Lerner’s emails, according to documentation released by the House Oversight Committee in July 2015.

Over the course of investigations into the Lois Lerner targeting scandal, Commissioner John Koskinen repeatedly assured Congress that he would provide all of Lois Lerner’s emails. But based on testimony from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), this did not occur. The agency’s ineptness -- or corruption -- resulted in 24,000 Lerner emails being lost when they were “accidently” destroyed. 

According to TIGTA official Timothy Camus, the IRS had six possible sources to search for Lois Lerner’s emails:

“The hard drive would have been a source, Blackberry source, backup tapes a source, the backup tapes for the server drives and then finally the loaner lap tops.”

When asked how many of these sources the IRS searched, Camus was unable to say for certain whether the IRS had searched for any. ...

Commissioner Koskinen stated that the IRS took “extraordinary efforts” to recover any emails, but this is clearly not the case. Years after the investigations into the Lois Lerner targeting scandal began, the agency’s unprecedented obstruction has meant Americans are no closer to the truth.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/09/the-irs-scandal-day-1230.html

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Comments

"Koskinen was appointed to lead the IRS after promising to bring transparency and openness to the embattled agency."

Given his track record, perhaps the IRS is due for an audit? Not that any real improvements would come out of it. In the private sector, a department operating in this fashion would be asking for a housecleaning, from the top down, and rightly so...

Posted by: MM | Sep 20, 2016 7:56:38 AM

Uhhh, not exactly what Mr. Camus said. “We’re not aware that they searched any one in particular. They did – it appears they did look into initially whether or not the hard drive had been destroyed, but they didn’t go much further than that.” In other words TIGTA doesn’t know exactly what was searched, the Service may have search any or all of the sources, but TIGTA was not “aware” “in particular”; and the sensational headline is not supported by the content “in particular.” Neither does the article delve into cost-benefit analysis of searching any of the six “possible” sources.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Sep 20, 2016 8:52:56 AM

Wow…seriously? The most serious scandal in IRS history and you think they should have conducted a CBA to determine whether they should search backup locations in order to comply with a subpoena?

I know from previous posts that you don’t think there was anything to the scandal but…seriously!

Imagine a private entity that gets investigated by the IRS, DOJ, SEC, or the like. Files are subpoenaed and the private entity says “Oops the laptop crashed…Hmm, could you wait a bit. I need to conduct a CBA to see whether we’ll search our backups in order to comply.” That’s laughable. No investigative agency (or court) would buy that.

Heck, even the “Oops the laptop crashed, oops can’t find the blackberry, oops we forgot to tell our people not to erase the backup tapes” wouldn’t be accepted. IF a private entity had files subpoenaed and they said they couldn’t produce them because a laptop crashed and the backup tapes were destroyed - they would be facing obstruction of justice charges (or whatever the charge is for destroying documents under subpoena).

Why are government agencies given a pass for what is, at a minimum, massive incompetence and, at the most, obstruction?

Posted by: sigh | Sep 20, 2016 1:10:16 PM

I strongly suspect Publis Novus works for the IRS Headquarters in Washington, DC

Posted by: Bittman | Sep 20, 2016 4:04:57 PM

No, Publius doesn't work for the IRS, and he does think there's a scandal.

Not the pattern of behavior exhibited by the IRS, mind you. He just thinks it's a scandal whenever Congress exercises it's Constitutionally-mandated oversight responsibilities and the Democratic Party is running the Executive Branch...

Posted by: MM | Sep 20, 2016 7:45:29 PM

Publius claims not to have worked at the IRS but he has made posts like, "Back in my day..." Implying he did work at the IRS or another government agency.

Someone should ask Toby Miles about how hard the IRS looked into things and what he thinks about the current developments.

Posted by: wodun | Sep 20, 2016 11:28:48 PM

Mr. wodun: Your memory is very poor. I have never written or otherwise used the phrase "back in my day," nor have I written or implied that I never worked for "another government agency." I have stated that I have never been an employee of the IRS or Chief Counsel. You really need to check that reading comprehension.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Sep 21, 2016 6:07:14 AM

Meanwhile, Mr. wodun, I am more interested in your take on Mr. Trump's rather blatant self dealing vis-à-vis the Trump Foundation. What say you?

Posted by: Publius Novus | Sep 21, 2016 6:09:06 AM