TaxProf Blog

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

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The IRS Scandal, Day 1441:  Lois Lerner Remains Relevant On Tax Day

IRS Logo 2Forbes: Lois Lerner, Former IRS Official, Remains Relevant On Tax Day, by Robert W. Wood:

President Trump is still facing a big backlash over his tax returns. Despite big protests, he has not released them, and there is no sign that he will. As this Tax Day passes, it seems unlikely that public cries for his tax returns are going away anytime soon. Yet curiously, some people on the right seem to be as upset with a now barely uttered name from the IRS’s past, Lois Lerner. Ms. Lerner was the former IRS official at the center of the targeting scandal. That mostly forgotten issue has nothing to do with Trump's tax returns, and it is unlikely to garner the kind of popular outcry that has been triggered over Trump's returns.

Even so, some observers cannot let go of the IRS targeting scandal. Partisan treatment from the IRS is worrisome. Some claim that Lois Lerner got off easy in the IRS scandal, and want it reopened. In fact, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady and Tax Policy Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking the Department of Justice to re-open a probe of her conduct. ...

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is still at the helm of the agency, and there is no sign that he will be replaced. In addition to Ms. Lerner’s own conduct, there were numerous gaffes or glitches over the course of several years. To outsiders, the IRS seemed to behave in ways that no taxpayer engaged in a tax audit would be allowed to act. Taken as a whole, the IRS made itself look at least sloppy. For example, as recently as 2016, despite a court order to preserve documents, the IRS wiped the hard drive of an important IRS official, Mr. Samuel Maruca involved in hiring an outside law firm. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch wrote a letter to the IRS complaining about the strange deal and its big fees.

The deal had nothing to do with Lois Lerner or targeting. Yet, the fact that the IRS wiped Mr. Maruca's hard drive was a reminder of Lois Lerner and all that came with her. ...

In March 2014, nine months after receiving a congressional subpoena to preserve and turn over the information, the IRS deleted approximately 24,000 Lerner emails and destroyed Lerner’s hard drive. Many emails were lost forever when 422 backup tapes were wiped clean despite a preservation order and subpoena. The House Oversight Committee report said the IRS failed to take even simple steps to ensure compliance with the order. On Tax Day, some taxpayers might wonder if the IRS would be likely to accept similar taxpayer arguments.

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2017/04/the-irs-scandal-day-1441lois-lerner-remains-relevant-on-tax-day.html

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Comments

What happened at IRS is a huge scandal...and the fact that the liberal media have refused to cover it is another scandal. The Democrats and their media make the Nixon guys look like boy scouts.

Posted by: VoteOutIncumbents | Apr 19, 2017 8:13:03 AM

Generally speaking, Mr. Wood's commentaries on this topic are more accurate and balanced than most. It is worth noting, however, that the IRS did not "destroy[] Lerner’s hard drive." Lerner's hard drive failed for unknown reasons and was replaced by IRS IT when the failure was reported in the regular course. It may be that Lerner was the reason for the failure; that supposition is unproven, and, given Lerner's lack of technical sophistication, is unlikely. In any event, if Lerner caused or contributed to the failure of her hard drive, it was not caused by Commissioners Shulman or Koskinen. Once more, we return to the unavoidable trichotomy that Lerner should either be 1) prosecuted or 2) immunized, but 3) will not be due to her continuing value as an issue.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Apr 19, 2017 8:17:40 AM

And "Publis" support of the lies of Lois Lerner and the other Democrat cretins in the IRS just reminds us that for liberals in general, and Democrats in particular, lying -up to and including felony perjury-, is one of the chief sacraments of the Liberal Church. As was demonstrated in 1999 during Bill Clinton's impeachment.

"Publis" is a dishonest troll who shows up here to always, always defend the lies and corruption of the Democrat scum running IRS.

Posted by: Andrew Russell | Apr 20, 2017 8:43:13 AM

What Mr. Pubs conveniently omits is that backup tapes containing copies of all of Ms. Lerner's relevant email correspondence were also destroyed in March 2014, nine months after they had been subpoenaed, despite a crystal clear preservation order sent to the relevant staff by IRS Chief Technology Officer Terence Millholland.

The reason why this occurred has never been fully explained...

Posted by: MM | Apr 20, 2017 1:52:43 PM

Mr. Russell: Wow, “Democrat cretins” and “dishonest troll” in the same post. Careful, you’ll wear out your Right-Wing Book of Insults. I’ve heard the spine on that volume is a little weak.

Mr. MM: It is true “that backup tapes containing copies of all of Ms. Lerner's relevant email correspondence were . . . destroyed in March 2014, nine months after they had been subpoenaed,” and like you, I find it disturbing that “[t]he reason why this occurred has never been fully explained.... .“ But my comment was critical of Mr. Wood’s inaccurate statement that the IRS had destroyed Lerner’s hard-drive. As always, maintaining focus is important. And once again, we return to the inevitable: Lerner should either be 1) prosecuted or 2) immunized, but 3) will not be due to her continuing value as an issue to the Right-Wing/Libertarian/Republican Axis.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Apr 21, 2017 6:21:23 AM

Pubs, we've been over all this before, more than once:

https://www.fedsmith.com/2014/07/22/lerners-hard-drive-was-scratched/

"Despite early refusals to make available IT professionals who worked on Lois Lerner’s computer, Ways and Means Committee investigators have now learned from interviews that the hard drive of former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner was 'scratched,' but data was recoverable. In fact, in-house professionals at the IRS recommended the Agency seek outside assistance in recovering the data. That information conflicts with a July 18, 2014 court filing by the Agency, which stated the data on the hard drive was unrecoverable - including multiple years’ worth of missing emails."

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/25/us/politics/irs-did-not-follow-law-after-loss-of-officials-emails-archivist-says.html?_r=0

"The Internal Revenue Service did not follow the law when it failed to report a hard drive crash that destroyed emails belonging to a senior official at the center of a scandal over the agency’s treatment of conservative-leaning political groups, the nation’s top archivist said Tuesday... 'In accordance with the Federal Records Act, when an agency becomes aware of an incident of unauthorized destruction, they must report the incident to us,' said David S. Ferriero, the chief archivist at the National Archives."

Leaving aside the false statements to Congress, the constant equivocation and changing of stories, and general contempt for oversight. could you simply explain to us uneducated types why no one has ever been (publically) disciplined for pretty obvious violations of the Federal Records Act, both for the destruction of her hard drive and the backup tapes?

Posted by: MM | Apr 21, 2017 7:25:21 PM