TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Monday, August 29, 2016

Quantum Physics And The IRS Scandal, Day 1208

IRS Logo 2Fox News, Congress Faces Physicists' 'Multiverse' of Issues Including IRS, Zika Upon Impending Return:

Quantum physicists sometimes discuss the possibility of a “multiverse.” A multiverse is where the cosmos is like a layered quilt, populated with alternate realities, different dimensions and unique timelines. As a result, an infinite number of possibilities or scenarios pass along each temporal continuum.

Capitol Hill is now seemingly moored in a legislative multiverse. The House and Senate return to Washington in early September, following an epic, seven-week summer recess. There are only a handful of policy issues lawmakers must tackle when Congress reconvenes, but an almost incalculable string of outcomes loom ahead when they return.

In other words, almost anything can happen.

House Republican leaders conducted a half-hour conference call with rank-and-file GOPers late Thursday. According to sources familiar with the call, the Republican brass offered few specifics as to their approaches on big issues like funding the government, Zika and even an effort by House conservatives to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. ...

Just before the break in July, Huelskamp and Rep. John Fleming, R-La., filed a special resolution demanding that the House impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. That resolution dissolved over the break.

Now, members of the House Freedom Caucus want to bring it back. Fox has learned the House won’t wrestle with the issue immediately as Freedom Caucus members will wait to see how the GOP leadership intends to handle the matter.

House Republican leaders aren’t fans of Koskinen. But they are lukewarm on impeaching the IRS chief. Congress hasn’t impeached a cabinet official since it sanctioned Secretary of War William Belknap in 1876.

As IRS commissioner, Koskinen isn’t even a cabinet official. There’s concern about setting a precedent if Congress begins impeaching various administration officials.

House Republicans will hold a separate conference meeting on Koskinen in mid-September. A source familiar with the thinking of the Freedom Caucus tells Fox its members aren’t in a hurry to refile the Koskinen resolution right away.

They don’t want to pressure leadership right off the bat. A House GOP leadership source told Fox that the public isn’t attuned to impeaching Koskinen. Still, the GOP leadership could further draw the ire of the Freedom Caucus if there isn’t a try to impeach Koskinen.

This is the Capitol Hill multiverse. No one is quite sure how lawmakers will resolve these issues in the end. But as lawmakers return to Washington, there are almost an infinite number of scenarios and possibilities -- because virtually no one’s decided anything yet.

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August 29, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1207

IRS Logo 2Neil Buchanan (George Washington), How to Make a Dead IRS Conspiracy Theory Look Not Completely Dead:

How does a right-wing conspiracy theory work?  Why do Republicans insist on pursuing even obvious dead ends?  One answer to those questions is that they have a virtual army of people who are willing to push these stories relentlessly in many directions, and they know that they can sometimes get useful headlines even from misleading underlying stories.

Thus on Monday of this week we saw this headline on a tax blog: "The IRS Scandal, Day 1201: Larry Tribe Says 'IRS Is Engaged In Unconstitutional Discrimination Against Conservative Groups And Must Be Halted'—'Inexcusable Abuse'."

How did a liberal lion like Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe get pulled into this mess, seeming to back up a right-wing talking point? He did so by being intellectually open-minded and generous, but apparently without being aware of the underlying conspiracy theory that his words seemed to confirm. ...

More than three years on, conservatives are still trying to claim that there was a political conspiracy. Republicans in Congress have spent millions of dollars investigating these claims, while also diverting millions of dollars worth of IRS resources to answering repetitive requests for evidence.

Despite all of this, there continues to be no evidence to support any of the conspiracy theories.

So why is the story still alive, and how did Larry Tribe end up playing a starring role for a day in this never-ending saga?

Apparently, Tribe recently (correctly) dismissed the idea of an IRS scandal as a non-scandal that has been debunked. Because Tribe is among the most well-known liberal legal scholars in the country, as well as a former advisor to President Obama, he is regularly trolled by right-wingers. Apparently, one or more of them took to Twitter to tell Tribe that there really is an IRS scandal.

One such response pointed Tribe to a recent decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Because Tribe is intellectually honest and open to being corrected, he said that he would look at the evidence. What he found, upon reading the court's opinion, was that there had really been IRS activities that needed to be stopped. Like the IRS lawyers who had stopped the vetting program when they found out about it, Tribe was rightly shocked.

Which, of course, does not at all support the conspiracy theories that conservatives have been pushing. No one has ever claimed that the IRS employees did nothing wrong. That was all covered in the TIGTA report, and the IRS's leadership had already ended the practice before the report was issued.

But why would Tribe's tweet be in the present tense: "IRS Is Engaged In Unconstitutional Discrimination ..."? Is engaged, not was. Why did he say that the IRS "must be stopped," given that it has already stopped?

Tribe might simply have erred by not using the past tense, or he might not have realized that the activity had been stopped a long time ago.  Another explanation, however, is intriguing (though equally exculpating of Professor Tribe). ...

At this point, therefore, all the IRS has to do to make this case go away is to process the last two applications and issue a new directive putting a bureaucratic stake through the heart of the long-abandoned procedures.

This is, therefore, yet another example of how legal concepts can be misleading. Professor Tribe (assuming that he meant to use the present tense) correctly said that the IRS "is" still doing something wrong, but only in the procedural sense that the last of the effects of the wrongdoing have not been completely cleaned up and tied off.

In the broader political context, of course, the misunderstanding of this legal nuance is more than a bit unfortunate. An important public intellectual was directed toward one tiny bit of the public record on the IRS non-scandal, and he responded to that evidence appropriately. But his words are being misused by people who want to keep the anti-Obama scandal claims alive.

To repeat: Some IRS employees did something that they should not have done. Their superiors made them stop. An inspector general reported what happened to Congress. Republicans have no evidence to show that the Obama people were involved. And Laurence Tribe is rightly dismayed that it ever happened, as are we all.

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August 28, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1206

IRS Logo 2Vox, How President Donald Trump Could Ruin His Enemies’ Lives:

Indulge for a minute in the worst-case scenario.

A Trump Force One flight to Mar-a-Lago in early January 2017. Donald J. Trump — the pettiest, most vicious version of Trump — is preparing for the ecstasies of his inauguration. He sits by the window, scrolling through Twitter and preparing for a well-deserved weekend at home.

Incoming White House Chief of Staff Corey Lewandowski and Chris Christie — yet to be named attorney general — burst into the cabin with a sheaf of notepaper and a couple of silent young attorneys in tow. "Well, boss," Lewandowski says, "we have a little bit of bad news and a whole lot of good news."

Trump raises an eyebrow. "There are some people we can’t figure out how to get back at yet, but there are a lot of people we can," Lewandowski says. ...

"Now on IRS — we’re doing Kasich and Cruz first, right?" (A nod from the president.) "We figure we just take the memo they sent out about targeting Tea Party groups and make some changes. Every group that’s ever done a fundraiser with those guys, or put up ads for them, or sent them an email, those are going to be audited first," Lewandowski says. "Bezos, we figure, probably next, maybe if the antitrust thing goes too slow. And we’re not allowing any new groups to get registered as 501(c)3s or (c)4s until we figure out who the rest of our targets are." ...

Because there are so many violations, the question of how investigators choose whom to target becomes the most important one. And the specter of politically motivated investigations is always there. This is most obvious when it comes to the IRS.

In 2013, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration found that the IRS had evaluated applications for new tax-exempt 501(c)3 groups, which can’t engage in "political activity," in part based on inappropriate things like whether a group had "Tea Party" in the name.

Conservatives felt this was evidence that the Obama administration was using the IRS to target conservative groups. Moulton of the Project on Government Oversight doesn’t think it quite reached the level of persecution — but still thinks the politically motivated use of the IRS, especially when it comes to tax audits, is a genuine cause for concern.

The government doesn’t even have to use all of these powers to change people’s behavior. Just the very possibility of an investigation is likely to make people tread carefully. Reporters sniffing around might worry about finding themselves snared in a costly audit. ...

In December, NBC and MSNBC correspondent Katy Tur live-tweeted a Trump rally that had been repeatedly disrupted by protesters. She received a note from Trump’s press secretary calling her coverage "disgraceful" and "not nice!" — followed by a tweet from Trump himself, calling for her and a colleague to be fired.

Then Trump singled her out at a rally in South Carolina, pointing to the press pen and saying, "She’s back there. Little Katy. … What a lie. Katy Tur. What a lie it was. Third. Rate. Reporter. Remember that."

Imagine that in 2017, Tur gets an audit request from the IRS for the past seven years of her tax information. She served as a foreign correspondent for NBC before covering the election, and the IRS sends her a letter every few weeks asking for more documentation about how she reported her income while on reporting trips abroad. ...

A vindictive president would need sympathetic political appointees in key positions: attorney general, DHS secretary, head of the IRS, maybe the director of National Intelligence. (The head of the FBI is a 10-year appointment, so James Comey — if he wants to — will be in charge until September 2023.)

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August 27, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1204

IRS Logo 2New York Post editorial, A Liberal Legal Icon Condemns the IRS’ Abuses:

One of the leading liberal lights of American law now says the “IRS is engaged in unconstitutional discrimination against conservative groups and must be halted.”

To be clear, Harvard prof Laurence Tribe is a convert: Early in the week, he sent out a tweet dismissing the idea of an IRS scandal as long-debunked.

But, as the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson noted at Overlawyered, for once social media actually shed light on a dispute: Others asked Tribe to read this month’s DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the IRS in the case — and he did.

That unanimous decision, reinstating lawsuits against the IRS for its targeting of righty groups, noted that there’s “little factual dispute” about the targeting and the “unequal treatment” of conservatives. More, it’s “plain . . . the IRS cannot defend its discriminatory conduct on the merits.”

Tribe read that, plus a key Inspector General report, and tweeted, “I confess error [with regard to] IRS ideological targeting. The IG report and the [DC Circuit] decision seems right to me. Inexcusable abuse.”

If a liberal icon can see the serious abuse, there’s hope for the House drive to impeach IRS chief John Koskinen for his scorched-earth defense of the cancer in his agency.

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August 25, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1203

IRS Logo 2CDN, Trump Wants to ‘True the Vote’:

[S]tanding up for electoral integrity can get you noticed—in a bad way.

“My life before I spoke out for good government stands in stark contrast to the life I now lead,” says Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of the anti-voter fraud organization True the Vote.

In her 2014 testimony before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, she said:

“Shortly after filing IRS forms to establish 501 (c)(3) and 501 (c)(4), an assortment of federal entities including law enforcement agencies and a Congressman from Maryland [Democrat], Elijah Cummings came knocking at my door … my private businesses, my nonprofit organizations, and family have been subjected to more than 15 instances of audit or inquiry by federal agencies.”

Representative Cummings vehemently denied Engelbrecht’s charge, but subpoenaed emails from former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner showed that he and his staff did ask Lerner to give True the Vote extra special attention.

Lerner, like Clinton, never faced charges for mishandling sensitive information. Although ethics charges were filed against Cummings for “weaponizing government” on behalf of his party, nothing ever came of them.

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August 24, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1202

IRS Logo 2Roll Call, Freedom Caucus' Jordan Eyes Another Push to Oust IRS Chief:

Rep. Jim Jordan and other conservatives are reviving efforts to press the House to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen as the embattled agency head tries to woo Democrats and undecided Republicans.

The Ohio Republican, chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, said in an interview that he and other allies were weighing the use of procedural tactics similar to the July bid by Louisiana GOP Rep. John Fleming to bring up an impeachment resolution as a privileged measure bypassing committee consideration. The measure calls for formal impeachment of Koskinen for misstatements and a failure to cooperate with a House investigation of the IRS' handling of tax-exempt status requests from conservative groups.

Congress didn't act on the measure before it left for a seven-week recess. And because the House did not take it up within two legislative days, Fleming would have to offer another one after Labor Day.

"We may have to bring that up again. We'll see," Jordan said. He said members of the Freedom Caucus and other conservatives would keep the pressure on Speaker Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin and others in leadership to take action when Congress returns after Labor Day.

"We are committed to holding John Koskinen and the IRS accountable for what took place there. So, we can do that in a formal way, which is through hearings … and vote it out of the Judiciary Committee and move that direction, or we can look at going to the floor," Jordan said.

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August 23, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, August 22, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1201: Larry Tribe Says 'IRS Is Engaged In Unconstitutional Discrimination Against Conservative Groups And Must Be Halted'—'Inexcusable Abuse'

IRS Logo 2Overlawrered: Tweet of the Day: Laurence Tribe on IRS Ideological Targeting, by Walter Olson:

Yesterday Harvard law professor Larry Tribe sent out a tweet brusquely dismissing the IRS targeting episode as a debunked non-scandal. I and others promptly took issue with him, and pointed him toward the August 5 D.C. Circuit opinion laying out the scandal’s genuineness. (I also referenced my Ricochet article summarizing the decision and citing the Inspector General report from Treasury.)

Within an hour or two Prof. Tribe sent this tweet very graciously conceding error, along with several similar.

Tribe

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August 22, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (11)

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1200

IRS Logo 2Canada Free Press, Judicial Watch: IRS Buried Conservative Groups’ Tax-Exempt Applications:

Judicial Watch released more FBI documents demonstrating that the Obama administration deliberately slow-rolled the tax-exempt status applications filed by Tea Party and conservative groups, Truth Revolt reports.

From the start of 2010 and “lasting through the Obama reelection campaign in 2012, the IRS orchestrated a deliberate policy of burying conservative groups’ tax exemption applications in bureaucratic delays,” the watchdog group said.

Group 7822 was a place where applications were sent to gather dust.

Whenever Cincinnati IRS employees took in applications from right-leaning groups,  they were “automatically denied approval and assigned to a special ‘Group 7822’ for an extended ‘inventory’ process while waiting for decisions from IRS headquarters in Washington, DC.”

IRS employees were instructed to delay conservative and Tea Party applications until after President Obama was safely reelected in November 2012. “The strategy relied upon the IRS’ multi-tier “bucketing” system that determined from the time an application was received whether it would be quickly approved or indefinitely delayed,” the Judicial Watch report states.

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August 21, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1199

IRS Logo 2Salt Lake City Tribune, Chaffetz Wants to Topple America’s Top Taxman, But Are His Motives Pure?:

The Salt Lake Tribune published an editorial recently that scolded Rep. Jason Chaffetz for trying to punish the IRS through the budgeting process because Commissioner John Koskinen won't resign.

The editorial noted that the Utah Republican, by suggesting budget-cutting threats to force Koskinen's hand, could hurt thousands of IRS employees and, by extension, the American people by diminishing the agency's efforts to collect unpaid taxes.

It also called Chaffetz's tactics a form of blackmail to force the commissioner's resignation. Chaffetz asserts that Koskinen should step down because he lied to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which the Utahn heads, about the agency's targeting of conservative groups for audits.

The panel's ranking Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, has called Chaffetz's allegations against Koskinen false. And the Utahn's call for impeachment proceedingsagainst the IRS boss — a procedure almost unheard of for an agency head — seems to be going nowhere.

So Chaffetz is urging Koskinen to bow out for the good of the people and the agency. But I suspect a more sinister motive is at play.

The four-term Utah congressman wants to add to his trophy case, much like the hunters who pay guides thousands of dollars to help them gun down exotic animals so they than can mount heads on their walls.

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August 20, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, August 19, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1198

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, IRS Vows Action on Tea Party Applications Long Held Up by Targeting:

Under pressure from the federal courts, the IRS did an abrupt about-face this week and said it will finally begin processing some of the tea party applications it has blocked for years — but the agency still refuses to say what the new process will be.

The Texas Patriots Tea Party, which first applied for tax-exempt status more than four years ago and has been blocked ever since, received a notice from the Justice Department on Tuesday saying it is finally going to see some action.

But the department’s attorney, Joseph A. Sergi, said he didn’t have any more details to provide, leaving it unclear whether the agency will move quickly, what sorts of standards it will impose and whether it will require another round of questions for the groups to answer.

“The IRS has decided that it will process the applications of plaintiffs whose applications remain outstanding, including the application for We the People of Texas (Texas Patriots Tea Party). We will be in further contact regarding the application process once we have heard from the IRS,” Mr. Sergi said in a brief note to the tea party group’s attorney.

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August 19, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1197

IRS Logo 2Forbes: Prediction: Clinton Foundation Will Pass IRS Investigation Just Fine, by Robert W. Wood:

After considerable prodding, the IRS has said—seemingly begrudgingly—that it is looking into the Clinton Foundation. Even before the latest email revelations, Republicans have criticized the Foundation and the unparalleled access they say donors have had to government policymakers. The unsavory “pay to play” label has often been used to describe the Foundation headed by a former President and Secretary of State. House Republicans formally asked the IRS to review whether the Clinton Foundation is complying with the rules governing its tax-exempt status.

More recently, Judicial Watch released a new batch of State Department emails showing close and sometimes overlapping interests between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department while Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State. The documents raise new questions about whether the Clinton Foundation ever rewarded donors with access and influence at the State Department. It is a charge Mrs. Clinton has faced in the past, and has always denied. Judicial Watch President Tom Filton said in a press release that Clinton “hid” the emails on purpose. ...

The newly released emails give new impetus to Republican requests to audit the Clinton Foundation. IRS Commissioner Koskinen wrote that the IRS was looking into it. Mr. Koskinen is the same IRS official Republicans have been trying to impeach over the IRS targeting scandal. Mr. Koskinen denies any wrongdoing. As discussed here, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), lead the push for the IRS to investigate. One of the complaints dates to the Peter Schweizer book, “Clinton Cash.” It says that Hillary’s State Department funneled at least $55 million to Laureate Education Inc. Laureate donated between $1 million and $5 million to the Clinton Foundation. ...

[I]t seems hard to imagine that this Foundation will face serious scrutiny. Even if there is official criticism, it will surely come post-election. Some questions relate to pay to play donations said to facilitate access to Mrs. Clinton. Moreover, there have long been complaints that the Clintons have not defined how they decide to designate speaking fees as their own income or as assigned to the Foundation. The tax system generally does not allow that kind of choice without tax consequences. In any event, the part of the IRS investigating the Clinton Foundation is the Exempt Organizations Division, the unit formerly run by Lois Lerner. She took the Fifth, retired and faced no charges over the targeting of conservative organizations.

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August 18, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1196

IRS Logo 2Breitbart, ‘The Intimidation Game’: IRS Scandal Looms over Next Administration:

In June, Hillary Clinton warned that Donald Trump was a would-be dictator who could not be trusted with the powers of the presidency. “Imagine if he had not just Twitter and cable news to go after his critics and opponents, but also the IRS, or for that matter our entire military,” she said. “Given what we have seen and heard, do any of us think he’d be restrained?”

How ironic, given that she served in the Obama administration while it abused the powers of the IRS to target conservative groups. ...

Hillary can be expected to pass some version of the DISCLOSE Act, a Democratic Party initiative to flush out the political views of federal contractors, and could revive proposed IRS regulations that would effectively legalize the targeting that was done in the IRS scandal.

Trump has been combative with the press, but there is nothing to suggest that he would pursue, or sanction, the kinds of abuse that Hillary Clinton and her party have been eager to encourage in the recent past. In fact, only a Trump presidency holds out the possibility of bringing the perpetrators of the IRS scandal to justice. In contrast, a Clinton win could see a renewed effort to target conservatives for the “crime” of dissent.

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August 17, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1195

IRS Logo 2WCPO (Cincinnati), Tea Party Federal Lawsuit Against IRS Set for 2017:

A tea party lawsuit brought by a group in California against the Internal Revenue Service over alleged targeting won't go to trial in Cincinnati until late 2017.

U.S. District Judge Michael Barrett recently set out a schedule for evidence preparation and disclosures in the case, with a final pretrial conference set for September 2017, and a trial scheduled for November 2017.

The 2013 class-action lawsuit filed by NorCal Tea Party Patriots of California alleges violations of privacy laws and constitutional rights.

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August 16, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, August 15, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1194

IRS Logo 2Daily Caller, IRS Bench Slapped Over Targeting Practices:

D.C. Circuit Scolds IRS For Unfair Targeting Practices
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit found that the IRS systematically targeted conservative groups for additional scrutiny by delaying their applications for tax-exempt status and submitting the groups to invasive probes, like forfeiting internet usernames and passwords or reviewing the political and charitable activities of family members. The three-judge panel characterized the agency’s arguments in its defense as “puzzling,” rejecting their claim that the agency could not process the tax-exempt applications of groups party to the litigation. Since the D.C. Circuit was not convinced IRS targeting had ceased, it reversed a lower court ruling denying the conservative groups an injunction and remanded the case for further proceedings.

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August 15, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1193

IRS Logo 2USA Today, Conservatives Want to Force House Vote to Impeach IRS Chief:

When Congress returns next month from its seven-week recess, conservative rebels in the House vow to force a vote on whether to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, effectively making an end-run around reluctant House leaders to achieve their goal.

Republicans allege that Koskinen obstructed an investigation into whether the IRS improperly scrutinized conservative Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status, although they do not agree on whether the IRS chief should be impeached. Democrats have denounced impeachment efforts against Koskinen as a politically motivated "travesty" that defames an honorable public servant who has done nothing wrong.

"John Koskinen needs to go, and we are committed to that," Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, chairman of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, said in an interview with USA TODAY.

Although House leaders usually set the agenda, Jordan and other Freedom Caucus members are using a procedural tactic called a "privileged resolution" to force an impeachment vote. They can force the vote two days after they file the resolution.

A resolution filed by caucus members before the congressional recess has expired, but Jordan said they are poised to file it again when Congress reconvenes. Lawmakers are set to return on Sept. 6. ...

Jordan said the caucus has been buoyed by an Aug. 5 decision by a federal appeals court that said the IRS has not proven that it has ended discriminatory practices against conservative groups. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reinstated a lawsuit against the agency. "The court just said that the IRS may not have cleaned up its act at all," Jordan said.

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August 14, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Saturday, August 13, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1192

IRS Logo 2Daily Signal, Accountability for IRS? What’s Next After New Court Decision:

The IRS has not stopped targeting conservative groups seeking nonprofit status, a federal appeals court has ruled in deciding to reinstate a lawsuit against the agency.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned a decision by a lower court that threw out the lawsuit because the Internal Revenue Service had promised voluntarily to end discriminatory practices.

The IRS insisted “there is no reasonable expectation” that discrimination will reoccur, the ruling noted, because the tax agency has “suspended until further notice” tactics it used to target the applications of tea party and other conservative groups for nonprofit status.

That reassurance was unsatisfactory to the appeals court because it appeared temporary. “There is a difference between the controversy having gone away and simply being in a restive stage,” Senior Judge David B. Sentelle, who was appointed by President Ronald Reagan, wrote in a unanimous decision by a three-judge panel. As a result, Sentelle wrote in the opinion released Friday, citing case law, the IRS “is free to return to [its] old ways—thereby subjecting the plaintiff to the same harm, but, at the same time, avoiding judicial review.”

Conservatives greeted the decision as proof that the tax agency isn’t serious about cleaning up its act. “They only stopped the targeting while people were paying attention. They had no intention of stopping the illegal conduct altogether,” lawyer John Eastman told The Daily Signal. ...

While the federal appeals court declined to hold individuals inside the IRS personally responsible for damages, it did agree with Eastman’s argument that political discrimination inside the agency was an ongoing problem. Any suggestion that the IRS no longer targets conservative groups, Sentelle wrote, “is absurd” in light of the fact that “two of the appellant-plaintiff’s applications remain pending.” ...

Conservatives celebrated the decision, which remanded the lawsuit to a lower court for trial and makes possible further discovery, a pretrial procedure that allows plaintiffs to search for additional pertinent information. ... In his interview with The Daily Signal, Eastman, former dean of Chapman University School of Law in Orange, California, predicted the discovery will unearth new facts about the IRS that are “going to be even more explosive than anything we’ve seen so far.”

Plaintiffs would look for evidence of collusion among government agencies, Eastman explained. It would be illegal, for example, if the IRS shared information about conservative nonprofits with the FBI for additional review.

That’s within the realm of possibility, Eastman said, considering the experience of Catherine Engelbrecht, founder and president of True the Vote. After her organization, which aims to curb voter fraud, applied for nonprofit status in 2010, Engelbrecht told The Daily Signal, she came under investigation by three government agencies all at once. As first reported by National Review in 2013, the IRS requested she turn over every social media post she’d ever written, lists of political organizations she has addressed, and information on any family members interested in running for public office.

Engelbrecht and her family’s business became the target of probes by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as the FBI. If any evidence of collusion exists among these agencies, Eastman told The Daily Signal, government employees involved could face “serious, five-years-in-prison types of felonies.”

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August 13, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Friday, August 12, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1191

IRS Logo 2Investor's Business Daily editorial, Will Predatory IRS Finally Be Brought To Justice?:

The Law: Two months ago, it looked as if the IRS scandal over targeting conservative groups had reached a legal dead end. But an appeals court, in a stunning reversal, revived it this week. Will justice finally be done?

We hope so.

The Washington, D.C., Circuit Court, overturning a June lower-court decision, let the suit go forward because, as LSU law professor Philip Hackney noted in the Surly Subgroup blog, "it found that the IRS had not voluntarily ceased its unlawful actions."

In other words, the IRS is still doing what it was accused of in the first place and was supposed to halt.

In particular, the court reinstated two specific complaints made by True The Vote and other Tea Party groups that claimed the IRS had acted in a biased way toward conservative organizations that applied for tax-exempt status.

The two complaints were that the IRS had violated the group's First Amendment rights, and that it had also violated the Administrative Procedures Act — both serious complaints that could land people in jail.

Senior Judge David B. Sentelle was particularly scathing in writing the unanimous decision by a three-judge panel, calling the IRS' contention that it was no longer violating the conservative groups' rights "absurd." ...

The egregious use of a powerful arm of the federal government for explicitly political purposes should never be tolerated. It's the stuff of petty dictatorships, more suitable to a government run by Turkey's Erdogan or Venezuela's Maduro than to a great republic such as the U.S.

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August 12, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1190

IRS Logo 2American Center for Law and Justice, President Obama’s IRS Scandal: Seven Years & Counting:

As we continue to bring you analysis this week of our recent win in the IRS case, we are reminded of how much this issue has developed since it was first discovered.

To be clear – the Obama Administration’s IRS targeting of Tea Party and other grassroots conservative groups is one of the longest running scandals in President Obama’s nearly eight-year administration – and it is still ongoing. After nearly seven years this December, one of our clients has still not received a determination on their submitted tax-exempt application.

In full disclosure, a proper and thorough timeline of this scandal would take thousands of pages to fully discuss everything that has occurred to date. For example, one law professor, in particular, has kept a daily blog for years now following the scandal and he just published “The IRS Scandal, Day 1188” earlier this week.

While we cannot cover every development of this scandal, the following timeline provides a clear and concise review of the major developments along the way:

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August 11, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1189

IRS Logo 2The Surly Subgroup:  DC Circuit Seems to have Decided IRS Violated Constitution Before Trial in True the Vote Appeal, by Philip Hackney (LSU):

In 2014, a District Court dismissed (based on 12(b)(6) and 12(b)(1) motions) the complaint of a number of conservative organizations who alleged that the IRS “targeted” them by subjecting them to greater scrutiny in their applications for tax exemption. The lead organization, True the Vote, sought 501(c)(3) charitable organization status; the others primarily sought 501(c)(4) social welfare organization status. The world became aware of this targeting controversy in May 2013 when Lois Lerner, the head of the Exempt Organizations division of the IRS apologized to the Tea Party and other conservative groups for how the IRS treated their applications. To this day Taxprof Blog continues the IRS Scandal post over three years later dedicated at least in part to this controversy.

The primary complaints were the second and fifth claims:  (2) the IRS violated the organizations First Amendment rights to freedom of speech, and (5) the IRS violated the Administrative Procedures Act. The District Court concluded that because the IRS had granted exempt status to these organizations, the complaints were moot. True the Vote appealed this dismissal to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals.

Last week the Circuit Court breathed new life into claims 2 and 5. Though the Court found that some of the complaints were moot (including Bivens complaints against IRS employees and a claim of violation of 6103 disclosure rules), it allowed claims 2 and 5 forward because it found that the IRS had not voluntarily ceased its unlawful actions.

In reading the opinion, I find astonishing that the Circuit Court appears to have already concluded, without trial, that the IRS acted unconstitutionally. I recognize that for a 12(b)(1) motion the court is to assume the complaint true, but the court appears to have done much more than make assumptions. I focus on this issue.

Frankly a trial testing this situation seems to me the right thing for two reasons. First, many people in our country genuinely believe the IRS behaved unconstitutionally (as is evidenced by the continuing coverage given in places like Taxprof Blog). Second, the IRS failed numerous organizations in how it processed this group of applications that touched on First Amendment issues. These two factors suggest to me that the organizations involved deserve a real hearing and not just a pre-trial dismissal.

What worries me is that the DC Circuit Court judges appear to have already judged the case; I find that as problematic as what the DC Circuit Court judges find problematic in the IRS actions at issue. Remember, the issue before the appeals court is a 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the IRS had approved the applications for tax exemption and there was no case to be decided by the court. Thus, no one has presented evidence or law in a trial on the substantive issues before the court. The court is to take the allegations as true for purposes of the motion but should give those claims close scrutiny. The DC Circuit though seems to do much more than assume the complaint is true.

The court starts its opinion stating: “Instead of processing these applications in the normal course of IRS business, as would have been the case with other taxpayers, the IRS selected out these applicants for more rigorous review on the basis of their names, which were in each instance indicative of a conservative or anti-Administration orientation.” Later in the opinion it continues: “It being plain to the Inspector General, the district court, and this court that the IRS cannot defend its discriminatory conduct on the merits, the governing issue is now whether the controversy is moot.” There is a lot of nonsense in those statements.

Because I don’t believe that the IRS failed by using names to screen applicants nor in picking out the conservative groups’ applications for closer scrutiny (as I discussed in an article called Should the IRS Never ‘Target’ Taxpayers), and I don’t believe any credible evidence has been put forward establishing that IRS employees acted with any intent to harm conservative causes, I feel like I am living in bizarro world to read a US appeals court opinion that states without a trial fairly establishing the law and facts that the these actions violated the constitution. I will take a look at separate parts of the statements to explain what I mean. ...

Perhaps the court’s opinion is nothing but dicta except for the holding that the case is not moot. But it is not at all clear that this is the way this opinion will be used. It is fine if the DC Circuit Court wants to see this case go forward, but it should let this case go forward without judging the case before it hears any evidence or law in a trial. The IRS, just like the conservative organizations, deserves to be treated with respect and fairness.

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August 10, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1188

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal editorial, The Dissembling IRS: Documents Show the Agency Misled About its Political Targeting:

The IRS has spent three years trying to slow-roll discovery in lawsuits about the way it slow-rolled the applications of conservative nonprofits. The latest episode is on display in federal court in Washington, D.C., in the lawsuit brought by the pro-Israel group Z Street.

Readers may recall that in 2009 Z Street filed for 501(c)(3) status and had its application caught in the net of IRS targeting for groups that opposed Administration policy. When Z Street called the IRS to check on the hold up, an agent confirmed that its application had been sent for special screening for groups connected with Israel.

Z Street sued the IRS in 2010 for viewpoint discrimination, arguing that the agency’s behavior violates the First Amendment. The IRS tried to claim immunity but lost in federal court, clearing the way for discovery that produces evidence and internal documents. Now taxpayers are getting their first glimpse of how the IRS misled about the reasons for its decision to target Z Street. ...

Discovery has also revealed documents that show the IRS made early attempts to shield and obfuscate its special Israel policy. In a November 29, 2010 email, IRS deputy commissioner Steven Miller asked IRS employee Sarah Ingram about “an article on a letter we apparently sent to an org on Israel settlements. What can you tell me.” Ms. Ingram replied that she “Just told Ruth to pull me out when you have a minute. Not doing email on this.”

There are other emails on the subject that have been produced in discovery but redacted to the point that they are unreadable. The IRS is blocking them on grounds that the documents are protected by so-called deliberative process privilege. But that privilege was created to safeguard internal government deliberations not to prevent the public from getting information about government wrongdoing.

The IRS wants to stonewall evidence production until the clock runs out on the Obama Administration on January 20. Let’s hope the courts keep the pressure on the agency so Z Street can see how and why it was mistreated for partisan purposes.

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August 9, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, August 8, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1187

IRS Logo 2CNN, Court: IRS Needs to Prove It Isn't Targeting Conservative Groups:

A federal appeals court says the Internal Revenue Service has not proven it has ended discriminatory practices against conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, reinstating a lawsuit against the troubled agency.

The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit's unanimous order on Friday reversed a 2014 lower district court ruling that previously dismissed the lawsuit, which was originally filed the year before.

The federal appeals court found that the IRS had committed some "unconstitutional acts against at least a portion of the plaintiffs," including "Be-On-The-Lookout" or "BOLO" lists where certain organizations' applications for tax-exempt status "were subjected to extended delay" and "were not receiving the same processing as those of other organizations."

Although the IRS announced that it had suspended the use of "BOLO" lists in the application process, the federal appeals court stated that the IRS' use of the word "suspend" indicated that it is not a permanent change.

Additionally, the court ruled that even if the IRS did voluntarily cease all discriminating practices, "it is absurd" to suggest the unlawful activity by the IRS has been eradicated "when two of the appellant-plaintiffs' applications remain pending."

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August 8, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, August 7, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1186

IRS Logo 2Walter Olson, DC Circuit Reinstates Conservative Groups’ Lawsuits against IRS Targeting:

Remember the claims from Obama administration fans that the scandal of the Internal Revenue Service targeting Tea Party and conservative groups wasn’t really much of a scandal after all; that it was the result of inadvertence or incompetence and, in any event, has been fully addressed so that it won’t happen again?

A unanimous panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals isn’t buying it. Today the circuit’s three-judge panel unanimously reinstated lawsuits against the IRS over the targeting program. With scathing language, it ruled that a lower court had improperly credited the IRS’s promises that it had ended its abusive targeting and sought to rectify the harms being sued over. In fact, the court said, evidence indicates that the IRS has not only failed to provide adequate guarantees of future good behavior, but continues even now to hassle some of the groups it harassed.

American Center for Law & Justice, ACLJ Wins Significant Victory Against the Obama Administration’s IRS Targeting:

We just secured a major victory in federal appeals court against the Obama Administration’s IRS.  The court unequivocally agreed with our position that the IRS’s targeting of conservatives has not ended and that our clients – numerous conservative, Tea Party, and pro-life groups – deserve to have their day in court.

Just hours ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit issued a decision in our IRS targeting scandal case, affirming in part and reversing in part the district court’s decision of dismissal, and remanding the case for further proceedings on all constitutional claims.

In its opinion, the appellate court agreed that the district court’s decision dismissing our clients’ – thirty-eight non-profit organizations from twenty-two states subjected to numerous violations of their First Amendment rights – claims was made in error on the unfounded position that the IRS had since ceased all allegedly illegal activity.

The court was quick to criticize the IRS’s absurd arguments that it had voluntarily ceased all illegal activity, stating unequivocally in the opinion that “voluntary cessation [by the IRS of the alleged illegal activity] has never occurred.”

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August 7, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Saturday, August 6, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1185

IRS Logo 2True the Vote v. IRS, No. 14-5316 (D.C. Cir. Aug. 5, 2016):

The IRS offers a rather puzzling explanation for why the continued failure to afford proper processing to at least some of the victim applicants should not prevent a finding of cessation. That explanation is that the organizations whose applications were still pending “were involved in ‘litigation’ with the Justice Department ….” The Service’s brief further illuminates this point with a footnote explaining that “[u]nder long-standing procedures, administrative action on an application for exemption is ordinarily suspended if the applicant files suit in court.”

It is not at all clear why the IRS proposes that not ceasing becomes cessation if the victim of the conduct is litigating against it. The IRS position is reminiscent of Catch-22 from the novel of the same name.

Under that “catch,” World War II airmen were not required to fly if they were mentally ill. However, anyone who applied to stop flying was evidencing rationality and therefore was not mentally ill. “You are entitled to an exemption from flying,” the government said, “but you can’t get it as long as you are asking for it.”

Parallel to Joseph Heller’s catch, the IRS is telling the applicants in these cases that “we have been violating your rights and not properly processing your applications. You are entitled to have your applications processed. But if you ask for that processing by way of a lawsuit, then you can’t have it.”

We would advise the IRS: if you haven’t ceased to violate the rights of the taxpayers, then there is no cessation. You have not carried your burden, be it heavy or light.

The IRS’s only further attempt to justify the lack of cessation as to some of the applicants is to refer to its Catch-22 litigation rule as a “longstanding policy.” To this we would advise the IRS: if you haven’t ceased discriminatory conduct, the fact that you have been failing to cease it for a long time does not create cessation. You still have not carried your burden….

Even if we assumed there was voluntary cessation, we would still conclude that the government has not carried its burden to establish mootness because it has not demonstrated that “(1) there is no reasonable expectation that the conduct will recur [or] (2) interim relief or events have completely and irrevocably eradicated the effects of the alleged violation.” ...

[T]he complaints alleged extensive discriminatory conduct including “delayed processing … harassing, probing, and unconstitutional requests for additional information that … required applicants to disclose, among other things, donor lists, direct and indirect communications with members of legislative bodies, Internet passwords and user names, copies of social media and other Internet postings, and even the political and charitable activities of family members.” While the Inspector General’s Report references many of these discriminatory actions, neither it nor anything else presented by the government meets the heavy burden of establishing that “interim relief or events have completely and irrevocably eradicated the effects of the alleged violation.

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August 6, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Law Review Rankings | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, August 5, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1184

IRS Logo 2Washington Free Beacon, Obama Donor, DOJ Prosecutor Spent More Than 1,500 Hours Looking Into IRS Targeting of Conservative Groups:

A Department of Justice prosecutor and Obama donor spent more than 1,500 hours investigating the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups, Judicial Watch reported.

Judicial Watch filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to find out how much time Barbara Bosserman had spent looking into the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups.

“As compiled from the Interactive Case Management System, Ms. Bosserman’s investigative efforts totaled 1,529.25 hours,” according to the letter.

Federal Election Commission records show Bosserman contributed $6,750 to Barack Obama campaigns and the Democratic National Committee between 2004 and 2012. She made twelve contributions to Obama for America from 2008 to 2012.

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August 5, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1183

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Heading The IRS Shouldn't Be Mission Impossible: GOP Call To Impeach Koskinen Is Tragic Political Theater, by Len Burman:

The 2016 Republican Party platform demands that Congress impeach and convict Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen. His “high crimes and misdemeanors” primarily consist of annoying congressional leaders and heading an agency charged with interpreting and enforcing the incoherent tax laws that Congress has inflicted on the American public—the definition of a thankless job. Impeaching the commissioner may be good political theater, but it’s bad for the country.

Over the years, the IRS has been led by a long list of admirable public servants of both parties. One, Mort Caplin, just celebrated his 100th birthday. Mort, a war hero decorated for valor at Normandy, probably saw serving as JFK’s Commissioner as a comparatively safe job.

Current Commissioner John Koskinen is only dodging metaphorical bullets, but the hail of fire is unrelenting. ...

He probably didn’t anticipate that his hard work would result in some House leaders and the official GOP platform calling for his impeachment. The charges: some emails lost by IRS staff and making a House committee wait a few weeks before responding to a subpoena. The same Treasury inspector general who flagged the targeting of conservative groups called Koskinen “exceptionally cooperative.” (AEI’s Norm Ornstein published an excellent dissection  of what he calls the House “show trial” in The Atlantic.) ...

Koskinen, who is tough as nails, will be okay, but the damage to our fiscal system could be longer lasting. If the goal is to improve the IRS—as it should be—the agency needs more people like Koskinen, Caplin, and the admirable souls who served between them (many of whom have rallied to Koskinen’s defense). Public servants willing to take on the enormous challenges facing the IRS shouldn’t have to face a hail of metaphorical bullets for trying to do their job.

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August 4, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1182

IRS Logo 2Politico, Morning Tax: Sounds About Right:

A new document release from Judicial Watch shows that then-interim IRS chief Steven Miller was none too pleased when first informed about the tea party controversy that would eventually lead to his ouster. As Joseph Lawler of the Washington Examiner put it: “Miller threw his pencil across the room and yelled, ‘Oh, s — t,’” when told in the spring of 2012 that the agency had been improperly scrutinizing conservative organizations. Full Examiner story.

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August 3, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1181

IRS Logo 2Judicial Watch Press Release, FBI Interviews with Cincinnati IRS Employees Reveal DC Headquarters Delayed Tea Party Applications:

Judicial Watch today released 105 pages of newly obtained Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) “302” documents revealing that, beginning in 2010 and lasting through the Obama reelection campaign in 2012, the Obama IRS orchestrated a deliberate policy of burying conservative groups’ tax exemption applications in bureaucratic delays. Interviews with numerous Cincinnati IRS employees in mid-2013 reveal that “Tea Party” group applications were automatically denied approval and assigned to a special “Group 7822” for an extended “inventory” process while waiting for decisions from IRS headquarters in Washington, DC.  One IRS manager “asked why progressive cases were not segregated similar to the Tea Party cases, but she did not get any satisfactory answers.”  FBI “302” documents are detailed narratives of FBI investigation interviews. The Obama Justice Department and FBI investigations into the Obama IRS scandal resulted in no criminal charges.

According to a Cincinnati “Group Manager” interview in July of 2013:

Group 7822 was composed of 12 to 15 people and was simply a place for the Tea Party cases to be held in inventory while the agent waited to receive guidance from the Washington office. There had been no precedence previously on these issues. If the case said it supports politics and political activity, it would be put into Group 7822. [Redacted] and then [Redacted] held the cases in inventory.

A second Cincinnati Group Manager interviewed in July 2013 told the FBI 302 interviewers a similar story, pinning the blame directly on the IRS Washington headquarters:

In the 14-month period when [Redacted] had the cases, he would ask for updates on guidance and was told they were still waiting on DC. He recalls receiving emails with contradictory guidance on whether the 501-c-3 or 501-c-4 cases should be denied. It was his understanding that a team would come and work the Tea Party cases when the guidance was provided … Nobody told him directly where the delay was in resolving the Tea Party issue. DC is like a black hole.

The FBI 302 interviews with Cincinnati IRS employees reveal that the agency adopted a series of policies assuring that Tea Party and other conservative group tax exempt applications would not be approved before the November 2012 presidential election. The strategy relied upon the IRS’ multi-tier “bucketing” system that determined from the time an application was received whether it would be quickly approved or indefinitely delayed.

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August 2, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (17)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1179

IRS Logo 2Breitbart op-ed:  Congress Must Impeach the IRS Commissioner, by Reps. Jim Jordan (OH-4), Tim Huelskamp (KS-1) & John Fleming (LA-4):

Today Americans see two sets of rules: one for the powerful and politically connected and another for

ordinary Americans. They view the system as rigged — and they’re not wrong.

There’s a roster of Obama administration officials that have abused their offices and not been held accountable.

Former Director of the Exempt Organizations unit of the IRS Lois Lerner engaged in systematic targeting of conservative individuals and organizations for their political views. When it came to light, she first lied when she falsely blamed agents in Cincinnati. She then refused to answer questions in a Congressional hearing. And as a result, she was held in contempt of Congress.

Although held in contempt by the House of Representatives, no grand jury was ever convened and no charges were filed by the Department of Justice. Lois Lerner was able to retire quietly with full government benefits despite having abused Americans’ most fundamental liberties. ...

Perhaps the most egregious example is John Koskinen — Commissioner of one of the most powerful government agencies — the Internal Revenue Service.

John Koskinen’s Chief Counsel knew in February of 2014 that there were problems with Lois Lerner’s hard-drive. He waited four months before he told Congress. During that four month timeframe, with two congressional-subpoenas and three preservation orders in place, the IRS destroyed 422 back-up tapes containing as many as 24,000 emails.

Any American who has ever dealt with the IRS knows how important document preservation, full disclosure, and transparency is. A wrong move could get you fined — or worse, land you in jail. No private citizen

being audited by the IRS could get away with such behavior. Why should John Koskinen?

In Federalist No. 65, Alexander Hamilton wrote that the power to impeach a civil servant should protect the public against “the abuse or violation of some public trust.” Time and time again, Koskinen both abused his power and violated the public’s trust in the IRS.

The primary — perhaps the only — argument against impeachment of the IRS Commissioner is that it hasn’t been done before. To date, no head of a government agency has been impeached by Congress — and that might be part of the problem.

It is clear Congress should be doing more to hold agencies accountable, not less. The facts show that impeachment is appropriate, but the House has to show the American people that it has the fortitude to do the right thing and finally hold this administration accountable.

Unless Congress acts, IRS Commissioner Koskinen – like Lerner, Holder, and Clinton– will be able to get away with abuse of his office as well.

Earlier this month, the House Freedom Caucus made a privileged motion on the House floor calling up articles of impeachment of Commissioner John Koskinen. The House of Representatives should immediately bring this to the floor for a vote. The American people deserve nothing less.

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July 31, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1178

IRS Logo 2Salt Lake City Tribune, IRS Chief Says Chaffetz’s Drive to Oust Him Will Leave Few Wanting Top Federal Jobs:

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen says Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz's relentless drive to impeach him will scare good people away from entering government service and is damaging his agency.

"If this is the signal we are sending to people thinking about coming to take a senior position in government, it's going to make it harder for good people to come in," Koskinen told reporters during a visit Wednesday to the Ogden IRS service center.

He adds that Republicans have slashed the IRS budget to punish him and the agency. With that, the Ogden center has lost 1,300 employees through attrition over the past five years — leaving about 5,000 there — and customer service is suffering.

Chaffetz, a Republican, fired back that if Koskinen wants to stop such perceived damage, "He can solve this himself by doing the right thing for the nation and stepping aside. He is so egotistical that he can't bear to do that." ...

"It goes beyond me. My concern is that no appointed official has been impeached for 140 years. So if we are suddenly, on relatively poorly supported facts, going to start attacking senior officials, people in the private sector" will have second thoughts about public service.

They will think, "It doesn't look like much fun," he said. "You get yelled at a lot in a hearing," and Congress may try "to impeach you." House Republicans even sought, he said, to reduce his salary to zero or take away his pension.

Future presidents may discover that it is "harder to find people who want to be Cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries, agency heads," he said. "It's going to be interesting to see who wants to take this seat next." ...

Chaffetz responded in a telephone interview. "He may say it has been fixed, but the GAO [Government Accountability Office, a research arm of Congress] begs to differ."

Chaffetz said Koskinen "has not solved this problem. He has exacerbated it." Also, "I think he provided false testimony to Congress. There should be a consequence."

Koskinen said he plans to serve until his term ends in November 2017. "I have no intention of being hounded out of office." ...

Chaffetz added, "We're not going to have productive interactions with the IRS as long as he's the commissioner. ... I do think it's affecting tens of thousands of workers in a very negative way. That's his choice, not mine."

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July 30, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, July 29, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1177

IRS Logo 2The Daily Signal, Justice Department Knew of IRS Scandal 2 Years Before Congress but Did Nothing:

Recently unearthed documents reveal that the FBI knew the IRS was unfairly targeting groups because of their conservative politics two years before Congress even heard about the agency’s misconduct.

The revelation has already added fodder to the conservative case to impeach the current IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.

Almost 300 pages of documents released Thursday and obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act confirm that the IRS subjected conservative groups to increased scrutiny beginning in 2011.

Even though the FBI uncovered the scandal in 2011, the documents show, the Department of Justice chose not to act.

Legal Insurrection, Top IRS Officials Knew Agency Targeted Conservative Groups:

What a shock. Judicial Watch discovered that top IRS officials, including Lois Lerner and Holly Paz, knew that the agency targeted conservative groups before they told Congress.

Washington Examiner, IRS Chief's Reaction After Learning About Tea Party Targeting: 'Oh, S--t':

Then-IRS chief Steven Miller threw his pencil across the room and yelled, "Oh, s—t" when he was told in the spring of 2012 that his agency had been targeting Tea Party groups for heightened security, according to newly released documents.

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July 29, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1176

IRS Logo 2Legal Insurrection, Hillary: As President, Trump Could Use IRS to Target His Enemies:

Have you noticed that many of Trump’s critics accuse him of things he hasn’t done yet but which other people have actually done already? The latest example comes from the presumptive Democratic nominee who warns President Trump could use the IRS to target his enemies.

Imagine that.

Watch Hillary Clinton paint a picture of this potential travesty which already unfolded under President Obama.

Hillary has one thing going for her here. The media has pretty much abandoned all reportage of the IRS targeting scandal. How many average Americans even know Obama used the IRS to silence tax paying Americans in the run up to the 2012 election and got away with it?

David Reaboi made the point well on Twitter:

Tweet

If we had an honest media, Hillary would have been laughed off the stage for saying this.

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July 28, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1175

IRS Logo 2Hot Air, Hillary: Can You Imagine Electing a Vindictive Man Who Might … Send the IRS After His Critics?:

You know what? I can imagine it. Pretty vividly, actually. Right down to the names of the “hypothetical” IRS officers involved.

Of all the examples she could have cited to make the point that Trump is a loose cannon, how did she and her speechwriters conclude that this was one worth floating? I understand calling him out for wanting to issue illegal orders to the military; that’s the most alarming thing he’s said since he got in the race. But attacking Trump over a potential IRS gone rogue is like attacking him for potentially wanting to intervene in foreign civil wars without Congress’s approval. We’ve seen that movie already. In fact, Hillary Clinton produced that movie.

Even lamer, if the IRS decides to start taking down political enemies, it’s more likely they’d focus on taking down President Trump himself than his adversaries. Judging by their political donations, IRS employees lean in exactly the partisan direction you’d expect the taxman to lean. Obama didn’t need to tell Lois Lerner to target tea partiers. That sort of thing would occur to her naturally given the agency’s institutional lean.

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July 27, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1174

IRS Logo 2The Hill, Hatch: Senate Won't Remove IRS Head:

The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee says a House effort to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has no chance of moving through the Senate.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the most senior Senate Republican, on Thursday said his colleagues and Koskinen don’t always agree but that those conflicts shouldn’t cost the commissioner his job.

“We can have our disagreements with him, but that doesn't mean there's an impeachable offense,” Hatch told reporters at the Capitol. “And for the most part he's been very cooperative with us."

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July 26, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Monday, July 25, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1173

IRS Logo 2Politico, Hillary Clinton Warns: Trump Could Use Military, IRS To Punish Critics and Opponents:

At a campaign event in Springfield, Illinois Wednesday afternoon presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton warned Donald Trump would use the military and IRS "to go after his critics and opponents." ...

"Imagine if he had not just Twitter and cable news to go after his critics and opponents, but also the IRS, or for that matter our entire military," Clinton said. "Given what we have seen and heard, do any of us think he'd be restrained?"

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July 25, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The IRS Scandal, 1172

IRS Logo 2Politico, IRS Manager Punished for Attending Obama Rally on Work Trip:

A supervisor at the Internal Revenue Service has received a 14-day suspension for ditching work in 2012 to attend a re-election rally for President Barack Obama.

The IRS official's actions violated the Hatch Act, a federal law limiting politicking by government employees, according to a statement Wednesday from the Office of Special Counsel. ...

The statement did not name the IRS staffer, but said she is an "operations manager" for the tax agency. The 14-day unpaid suspension was agreed to by the worker as part of a settlement that also resolved charges she violated the tax agency's internal code of conduct, the statement said.

"Federal employees are encouraged to participate in the political process, but they must do so on their own time, outside the workplace, and in their personal capacity,” Special Counsel Carolyn Lerner said.

Several enforcement actions have been taken against IRS personnel for political activity in the 2012 election cycle.

In 2014, Lerner's office announced that an IRS help line worker received a 100-day unpaid suspension for urging callers to support Obama and for reciting a pro-Obama chant "based on the spelling of the employee's last name."

The personnel actions come amid continuing Republican complaints of anti-conservative bias at the tax agency. Some House GOP lawmakers are pressing a drive to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen over his alleged lack of cooperation with Congressional investigations into the bias claims.

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July 24, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1171

WSThe Politicization of Everything, The Weekly Standard (Aug. 1, 2016):

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent outburst against Donald Trump has been roundly criticized by people of all political stripes. Insofar as her comments suggested a clear bias about cases that could come before the Supreme Court, they were clearly a mistake and a departure from the norms of Court behavior. After predictable media attempts to defend her by saying "everyone does it," Justice Ginsburg apologized and walked back her remarks.

This is not, however, a one-off incident. It is part and parcel of a clear and consistent pattern of the left's increasing politicization of everything. And the chief instigator of this behavior has been President Obama. In the modern era, presidents and ex-presidents once showed a degree of political restraint. President Obama has blasted through these restraints and spoken freely as a partisan rather than as a president. 

An early example is the president's criticism of the Citizens United case in his 2010 State of the Union address. It is one thing for a president to advance a view about the role of money in politics; it is quite another to launch a broadside about a specific Court decision in front of Supreme Court justices captive in the front row of a nationally televised speech, complete with cheering partisans standing all around. This, of course, resulted in a classic media deflection, namely, criticism of Justice Samuel Alito's silent (and accurate by the way) response. This was certainly no sign of presidential respect for the Court's independence.

President Obama's behavior here was of a piece with his comments about the unfolding IRS scandal in 2014. Here was a genuine abuse of government power, replete with lying, stonewalling, and the wanton destruction of public documents. It would be one thing if the president were to opine about a congressional investigation into the IRS scandal. It is quite another to do so when the president's Justice Department had launched its own investigation of the IRS.

It is perhaps fair to say that the administration's investigation, headed by Justice Department attorney (and Obama contributor) Barbara Bosserman, was a sham from the beginning. But is it acceptable for the president to pronounce there was not "even a smidgen" of IRS wrongdoing while the Justice Department's so-called investigation was underway? ...

With regard to IRS targeting of political opponents, for example—the temerity of which would make Richard Nixon blush—was there really a sufficient reason to excuse lying, stonewalling, and the destruction of computers and literally thousands of emails? Is there no single Democrat who can rise above his or her own partisanship and acknowledge that while there may be partisan gain for Republicans, an investigation might also be good for the defense of liberty and government restraint? Would they want the IRS to target them?

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July 23, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1169: Tax Profs Oppose Impeachment/Censure Of Commissioner Koskinen

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Congress Reaches New Low In Proposed Censure Of IRS Commissioner, by Bryan Camp (Texas Tech):

Those who voted for H. Res. 737 are like my son who, when younger, would throw objects across the house in his fits of frustration.  The difference, however, is that at least my son was careful to hurl objects that would not do much damage or break.  In contrast, H. Res. 737 seeks to throw Commissioner Koskinen across the House and so risks doing great damage to a decent man and risks further breakage to a tax collection agency already weakened by relentless and mindless budget cuts.

Look, I’m a law professor.  I try to teach my students more than just an understanding of the rules relating to taxation.  I want them to respect the law-giving authorities, both the Congress that writes the laws and the agency that must administer the laws as written, the IRS.

H. Res. 737 undermines my teachings. The resolution is permeated with pettiness, putrid with peevish odors. In case you think I just like alliteration, let’s take a look at some of the “charges” in the document and you will see what I mean. ...

Not only are these accusations baseless, they’re trashy.  The entire reason that Congress even knew about the potentially missing email was because Mr. Koskinen was, in fact, transparent about the email search process and dutifully reported to Congress about several problems in June 2013.  He was able to do so, in part, because he consistently attempted to inculcate a sense of duty within the IRS.  Rather than hiding problems as the resolution asserts, Mr. Koskinen went to extreme lengths to disclose and explain them.

What seems to affront the sensitive souls of those who voted H. Res. 737 out of committee is that Ms. Lerner’s hard drive crashed in June 2011.  They have faith, sure and pure, certain and implacable, that this was no accident and that Lerner was hiding something.  I say “faith” because they have no evidence.  Even the faith part is shaky:  the TIGTA report that started it all (May 14, 2013) shows Lerner had no reason to hide or cover up anything in June 2011.  No one was watching or investigating her in June 2011.  The entire matter of inappropriate scrutiny of 501(c)(4) applications was still an internal matter.  It did not hit the Congressional radar screen (according to the first TIGTA report, on page 3), until the 2012 election cycle.  TIGTA began its investigation in June 2012, about a year after Lerner’s hard drive crashed.   It sure takes a lot of faith to believe that a hard drive crash in June 2011 was Lerner’s attempt to thwart an investigation that started in June 2012.  Gosh, you’d THINK she’d would have at least waited until May 2012 so she could get rid of more stuff…

But those searching for conspiracy have faith.  Their faith guides them even a step further into fantasy: since Lerner’s hard drive must have contained incriminating evidence (because it crashed), it follows that the White Paper and Mr. Koskinen’s letter were just covering up the cover-up.  You see, a determined and faithful conspiracy theorist is not deterred by a lack of evidence.  A lack of evidence just proves a successful cover-up. ...

H. Res. 737 is a petty product of petulance. I’ve watched Mr. Koskinen testify at several hearings and what I have seen is grace under pressure. He came out of retirement at age 74 to volunteer for his country.  I would like to see any one of the yahoos who voted H. Res. 737 out of committee step up and volunteer to manage the IRS when they turn 74.  Wait…no…on second thought, given how they have mangled their oversight duties, that is not a sight I hope to see.

I sincerely hope that when Congress re-convenes in September, the House will treat H. Res. 737 like the garbage it is and throw it away.

The Surly Subgroup:  Don’t Impeach IRS Commissioner Koskinen, by Leandra Lederman (Indiana):

... The censure and impeachment efforts relate to government attempts to obtain Lois Lerner’s emails. Production of these emails was a major challenge for the IRS, for many reasons, as detailed in an enclosure accompanying a June 2014 letter from IRS employee Leonard Oursler to the Senate Committee on Finance. Among them was the fact that Ms. Lerner’s computer’s hard drive had crashed in June 2011. In written testimony before the House Oversight Committee in March 2014, Commissioner Koskinen stated that “More than 250 IRS employees have spent nearly 100,000 hours working directly on complying with the investigations, at a cost of nearly $8 million. In order to properly protect taxpayer information while efficiently processing voluminous materials for production, we had to add capacity to our information technology systems and, therefore, spent an additional $6 million to $8 million to optimize existing systems and ensure a stable infrastructure.” In June 2015, TIGTA reported that “[n]o evidence was uncovered that any IRS employees had been directed to destroy or hide information from Congress, the DOJ, or TIGTA”, although it also found “that the IRS did not put forth an effort to uncover additional, responsive emails” (p.18 of TIGTA’s June 30, 2015 report). Bryan Camp discusses that issue in a post at Procedurally Taxing.

Others have observed that the attempt to impeach Commissioner Koskinen seems partisan and unjustified, as well as unprecedented. It is an unnecessary distraction for an agency struggling with inadequate resources. Moreover, attacks like this one will no doubt deter other talented individuals from being willing to serve in the top ranks of the IRS. The ACTC is right in requesting “Congress [to] reject impeachment and censure, and instead apply its time and attentions to improving both the tax law and the administration of our tax system.”

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July 21, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1168

IRS Logo 2The Hill, Hillary Clinton's IRS Abuse Chutzpah:

After skating through the FBI investigation and successfully stonewalling the Benghazi committee, Hillary Clinton is now worried that Donald Trump will use the IRS against his political enemies. ...

One might give Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, a small amount of credence if she had joined Republicans in their efforts to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen for his part in the cover-up of Lois Lerner's campaign against conservative groups from her IRS perch, but she didn't.

Is it possible that Clinton is so unaware of what is going on that she didn't know that the Obama IRS has been weaponized against Tea Party groups? ...

[T]he explanation for Clinton and her staff's blind ignorance to President Obama's abuse of not only the IRS, but also the Departments of Labor, Homeland Security and Justice in targeting conservative group leaders like Catherine Engelbrecht of Texas might be because Clinton only gets her news from Obama cheerleader outlets like MSNBC — which scoffed at the IRS abuse story, actively participating in the cover-up through its editorial decisions.

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July 20, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1167

IRS Logo 2The Hill, GOP Platform Calls for Impeachment of IRS Chief:

The Republican Party platform adopted Monday calls for Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen to be impeached and removed from office.

The commissioner "has lied to Congress, hidden evidence, and stonewalled investigations,” the platform states without explicitly using Koskinen's name. “He should be impeached by the House of Representatives and convicted by the Senate.”

The GOP platform calls the IRS “toxic” and says the agency “has become an ideological attack dog for the worst elements of today’s Democratic Party.”

Republicans are calling for the repeal of the “Johnson Amendment,” which bars nonprofits from endorsing political candidates.

“Places of worship for the first time in our history have reason to fear the loss of tax-exempt status merely for espousing and practicing traditional religious beliefs that have been held across the world for thousands of years, and for almost four centuries in America,” the platform states. “We value the right of America’s religious leaders to preach, and Americans to speak freely, according to their faith.”

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July 19, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 18, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1166

IRS Logo 2The Daily Signal, House Conservatives Explain Latest IRS Chief Impeachment Push: ‘Leadership Has Been Too Timid to Go After Corruption’:

The House Freedom Caucus has launched a pressure play against Republican leadership in an effort to force a vote on impeaching John Koskinen, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.

Before Congress skipped town Thursday for a seven-week recess, Reps. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., and John Fleming, R-La., filed a parliamentary measure known as a privileged resolution on behalf of the Freedom Caucus.

The effort hinges on maximizing public pressure on lawmakers during their summer recess, Huelskamp told The Daily Signal. Conservatives hope that populist opposition to the IRS in congressional districts will translate into support for impeachment on Capitol Hill.

But when Congress returns Sept. 6., lawmakers have two legislative days to vote on either impeaching Koskinen or tabling the measure.

And by going straight to the floor, the Freedom Caucus has bypassed the regular committee process, bucked GOP leadership, and widened an expanding chasm within Republican ranks.

Establishment aides describe the effort as a publicity stunt while their conservative contemporaries say it is part of a greater effort to overcome leadership’s opposition to impeachment. ...

Koskinen’s lawyer, in a statement to Bloomberg News, described the Freedom Caucus case as an “unfortunately repeated conspiracy theory that was long ago discredited.”

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July 18, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1165

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner, How Conservatives Hope to Win the IRS Impeachment Vote:

Conservative lawmakers behind the resolution to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen have a not-so-secret weapon that they hope will lead to a successful impeachment vote in September: public outrage.

Reps. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., and John Fleming, R-La., made a motion on Thursday to call up their impeachment resolution on a privileged basis, essentially forcing the House to vote on it. That motion won't be considered until the House returns in September from conventions and the summer recess.

Some already see the intervening seven weeks as a cooling off period that gets Republican leaders off the hook, since they don't want to hold the vote.

But Huelskamp and Fleming say the time back home might subject lawmakers to several weeks of pressure from constituents who are demanding an impeachment vote to finally hold somebody in Washington — anybody — accountable. ...

GOP leaders don't agree, and would rather focus on a more moderate agenda that gives voters a reason to keep Republicans in charge of the House and Senate. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Thursday tried to calm things down by saying the GOP would have a "family" discussion about impeachment once members return. ...

But while leaders hope things calm down, supporters of impeachment are hoping voters let lawmakers know they're mad as hell. That would put more pressure on the House to not only hold the vote, but to vote in favor of impeachment.

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July 17, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1164

IRS Logo 2American College of Tax Counsel, Letter to Paul Ryan, Kevin Brady, Nancy Pelosi & Sander Levin (July 13, 2016):

On behalf of the Officers and the Board of Regents of the American College of Tax Counsel, I write to express our significant concerns with the resolutions being considered with respect to the possible impeachment and censure of Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen. It is our view that such actions are not commensurate with the alleged conduct and will damage the agency at a time when it needs strong leadership. We do not see any benefit to the agency or our system of laws that could arise from moving forward with these actions.

The Officers and Regents of the College are senior, experienced tax lawyers with decades of experience in dealing with the Internal Revenue Service. Many of our colleagues have devoted years of their professional careers to working at the agency, in service of our country. We have watched the agency struggle with significant decreases in funding that have caused staffing and morale issues. In our practices we have seen the negative impact this has had on our clients, the taxpayers. We often disagree with actions taken by the Internal Revenue Service, and at times we think that things should be done differently. Overall, however, we think that the agency serves the American people in a manner consistent with its vital mission, especially in view of the complexity of the tax law, the additional responsibilities that it has been given over the past few years, and the severe financial constraints under which it operates.

We see the benefits of the steady hand that Commissioner Koskinen, an experienced, dedicated and respected public servant, provides. Ifhe were to be replaced now, the agency would have its fifth Commissioner in four years. This is an enonnous organization - it employs over 78,000 people and processes nearly 150 million individual income tax returns filed each year. To be an effective leader, the Commissioner needs to take time to build up the knowledge base, as Commissioner Koskinen has done, and it takes time to build up trust in the employees. We think that the agency and the country will be well served if he is willing and allowed to continue on the path that he has set.

We would respectfully request that Congress reject impeachment and censure, and instead apply its time and attentions to improving both the tax law and the administration of our tax system.

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July 16, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, July 15, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1163

IRS Logo 2Washington Post, House Conservatives Try to Force Vote to Impeach IRS Chief:

A group of House conservatives is making a last-ditch effort to force a floor vote to impeach Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen because of their continuing frustrations over how the agency has treated small-government groups.

House Freedom Caucus members John Fleming (R-La.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.) on Thursday employed a rarely used procedural maneuver that allows any member to have an issue considered by the full House.

The move means that any action would probably happen shortly after lawmakers return in September following a seven-week recess.

“Congress has held countless congressional hearings on the impeachable offenses of Koskinen — but there have been zero consequences for his behavior,” Huelskamp said in a news release. “It is time for him to be impeached and removed.”

The lawmaker said a vote is “necessary to bring national attention to this disgrace and to impeach and remove at least one Obama Administration official.” ...

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) has resisted holding a vote to impeach Koskinen, but the move by Fleming and Huelskamp will force him to deal with the issue in September. ...

The IRS said Thursday that history is on Koskinen’s side. “Commissioner Koskinen believes that a traditional, fair impeachment process that follows historical precedent would demonstrate that neither impeachment nor censure is warranted,” the agency said in a statement. “If this proceeds, he deserves an opportunity to refute the allegations and fully respond to these charges before a House vote on the allegations. The Commissioner has made it clear that he testified truthfully and that the facts clearly do not support the claims.”

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July 15, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1162

IRS Logo 2Politico, Freedom Caucus Goes All-In On IRS Impeachment:

The House Freedom Caucus on Wednesday set in motion a plan to force a vote to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, bucking House GOP leaders who oppose the idea and worry it will lower the bar for such extreme actions in the future.

The group of right-wing rebels led by Reps. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) on Tuesday had warned Paul Ryan they would file a privileged resolution — effectively bypassing leadership — if the House speaker did not agree to initiate impeachment proceedings in the Judiciary Committee.

Reps. John Fleming (R-La.) and Tim Huelskamp (R-Kansas) filed the measure calling for Koskinen's ouster. Due to the procedure they used to introduce the resolution, it is not "privileged" and is therefore referred to the Judiciary Committee, which does not have to act on the controversial measure.

However, Fleming and Huelskamp are expected to refile a similar measure on Thursday using a slightly different procedure, according to Republican leadership sources. This second resolution would be "privileged," meaning whoever files it can force a floor vote on the measure, although with the House ready to adjourn for a seven-week recess, that would like not take place until September.

Huelksamp said there "will be some action on it tomorrow," but declined to say exactly what he, Fleming and the Freedom Caucus are planning.

Some senior Republicans believe the move to impeach Koskinen — which will fail if the Senate doesn't go along — is a cunning political ploy by the Freedom Caucus. It puts Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) in a box; he and other top Republicans can oppose the motion and be portrayed by conservative critics as protecting Koskinen, or they can support it despite concerns that it is not an appropriate action by the House.

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July 14, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1161

IRS Logo 2Politico, Freedom Caucus Threatens End Run Around Ryan on IRS Impeachment:

House conservatives are threatening to force a vote to impeach IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, bucking Republican leaders who don't believe his actions warrant such severe consequences.

Leaders of the House Freedom Caucus presented Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) with a choice on Tuesday: Move our impeachment resolution forward in committee on your own accord, or we will likely force the matter by filing a "privileged resolution." In other words, an end run around leadership to the House floor.

They want a commitment from Ryan by the end of the week on a timetable to advance the impeachment measure. ...

Ryan responded by asking the caucus to hold off on forcing any sudden action, according to a person familiar with a meeting with Ryan Tuesday at which caucus leaders brought up the matter. Republican lawmakers deserve a chance to discuss the matter in conference, Ryan said, adding that any further action on Koskinen should be a “team decision."

Conservatives used the same procedure a year ago to launch a pressure campaign that ultimately drove then-Speaker John Boehner from office. ...

Should Ryan and the Judiciary Committee fail to advance the impeachment resolution, the Freedom Caucus will likely file the privileged resolution. A floor vote, however, is unlikely to come before members break for summer recess this week. The House will return in September.

Even Republicans who don't like the idea and don't support it have said privately they will have to vote for impeachment for fear of how it will play back home should they vote the other way.

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July 13, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1160

IRS Logo 2Politico Morning Tax, News on the Koskinen Front:

After lying dormant for a while, there’s been some news on the effort by some House Republicans to impeach or censure or strip the salary of IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Relatively minor news, but news all the same. First, our Katy O’Donnell reports that a bipartisan group of eight former IRS chiefs took strong exception to the impeachment effort. “We believe these actions are both disproportionate and counterproductive. They would do serious, long-term damage to our revenue system,” they wrote in a letter to House leadership and the top Republican and Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee. And while Ways and Means members haven’t been out front in the anti-Koskinen effort, Brady endorsed the no-salary effort. After a panel discussion on tax reform organized by the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, Brady said he takes, "every chance I get to make the case that this IRS ought to behave differently," Tax Analystsreported. Sources on the Hill have been less than enlightening about where things stand on the matter. But it’s a fair guess that some of Koskinen’s fiercest critics see bigger fish to fry — like investigating the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email practices.

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July 12, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Monday, July 11, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1159

IRS Logo 2Heartland Institute, House Lawmakers Censure IRS Commissioner Koskinen:

A U.S. House committee overseeing the administration of justice in federal courts and agencies voted to censure a high-ranking Internal Revenue Service (IRS) official for his role in covering up abuses of power at the federal revenue-collection agency.

Beginning in 2010, employees of IRS’ Exempt Organizations division, under the supervision of division Director Lois Lerner, violated IRS policies by singling out organizations for special examination based on a group’s name or policy positions, with the aim of slowing or preventing the ability of conservative organizations to receive tax-exempt donations in the run-up to the 2012 elections.

Lawmakers on the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee say John Koskinen, the current IRS commissioner, participated in covering up Lerner’s actions by destroying public records and stonewalling government investigations.

With the committee having approved the censure in June, the House will vote on the measure. If the censure is approved, Koskinen will be stripped of his taxpayer-funded pension and other government perks.

U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a member of the House Oversight Committee, told Budget & Tax NewsKoskinen’s actions and statements meet the legal standard necessary for censure.

“We think the standard is dereliction of duty, gross negligence, and breach of public trust,” Jordan said. “Obviously, Mr. Koskinen has done just that. When it’s something of this magnitude, where documents are under two subpoenas and there have been three document preservation orders in place, and under his watch 422 backup tapes were destroyed containing potentially 24,000 e-mails, … that’s a breach of public trust and gross negligence.” ...

Dan Mitchell, a senior fellow with the Cato Institute, says the IRS has also refused to enforce Obamacare provisions.

“In terms of the bigger question of what the IRS has done wrong, it goes way beyond the attempted suppression of Tea Party groups,” Mitchell said. “It deals with everything from the fact that they arbitrarily and unilaterally ignore certain Obamacare law provisions simply because the White House decided that they wanted to change the rules, notwithstanding that the law theoretically means what the law says.”

Mitchell says IRS has effectively become a “weaponized” arm of the government.

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July 11, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1158

IRS Logo 2Daily Caller op-ed: IRS Hides Records Revealing White House Collusion As Americans Tire Of Constant Scandals, by Mark Meckler (President, Citizens for Self-Governance):

At some point, news of corruption, collusion, and injustice is so common with the Obama administration, it ceases to shock. But here’s the latest nugget of information that will fail to make the headlines of the mainstream media – this time, it deals with the IRS refusing to obey a Freedom of Information Act request that could prove that the White House colluded with them in this scandal.

But this is just one of many scandals, right? Let me refresh your memory if you have lost track. In a stunning show of the Obama Administration’s abuse of power, the IRS admitted at the highest levels to targeting, harassing and intimidating tea party, Christian, pro-Israel and other conservative groups. Their intimidation undermined the ability of ordinary Americans to express themselves and freely participate in the democratic process. In fact, since this was going on during the last Presidential election, their shenanigans could’ve played a role in suppressing the conservative vote.

Which, of course, is why they did it. ...

A new court filing claims that the IRS barely searched for records that would reveal the agency disclosed taxpayer data to the White House without authorization.

CoA Institute issued the FOIA request for documents after a White House official discussed what was supposed to be the private tax status of the Koch Industries’ multi-billion dollar company. Though tax payer information is supposed to be tightly guarded, Austan Goolsbee (chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers at the time) freely discussed this confidential information of the privately owned corporation.

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July 10, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1157

IRS Logo 2The Hill, Ex-IRS Chiefs Urge House to Reject Impeaching Koskinen:

Eight former IRS commissioners from both Democratic and Republican administrations are urging the House to reject resolutions to impeach or censure the current head of the agency, John Koskinen.

"Overall, their primary impact would be to harm millions of everyday Americans, small businesses, and other taxpayers as they attempt to comply with their obligations imposed by our tax laws," the former commissioners said in a letter sent this week to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and the leaders of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Some House Republicans, particularly members of the House Freedom Caucus, have called for Koskinen's impeachment because they believe he failed to comply with a subpoena and lied under oath during a House investigation into revelations that the IRS had given extra scrutiny to Tea Party groups' applications for tax-exempt status.

The former commissioners said that Koskinen has been doing good work in the job. "In our view, much of the success of the present IRS is attributable to its dedicated and capable employees and the leadership of Commissioner Koskinen," they said.

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July 9, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, July 8, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1156

IRS Logo 2The Hill, House Rejects Measure to Cut IRS Chief's Salary to Zero:

The House on Thursday rejected an amendment to a financial services spending bill that would have temporarily cut the Internal Revenue Service Commissioner’s salary to zero.

The amendment failed by a vote of 197 to 224, drawing opposition from some Republicans as well as from Democrats.

Republican Reps. Ken Buck (Colo.) and Mark Sanford (S.C.) offered the amendment, which would have reduced IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s salary to zero from the date of enactment through the date of the presidential inauguration.

“This amendment is necessary because of the serious mistakes by the IRS,” Buck said.

Buck criticized the IRS for subjecting conservative groups’ applications for tax-exempt status to extra scrutiny and for destroying evidence that was subject to a congressional investigation on the political-targeting scandal.

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July 8, 2016 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)