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Thursday, January 15, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 616

IRS Logo 2Judicial Watch, New Documents: Lerner Objected to IRS Deputy Director Visit to Cincinnati Office During Congressional Inquiries into Tea Party Targeting:

Judicial Watch today released a new batch of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) documents, including a series of emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner to then-Tax Exempt and Government Entities (TE/GE) Division Deputy Director Joseph H. Grant strongly objecting to his planned visit to the IRS Cincinnati office “smack dab in the middle” of congressional inquiries into the IRS targeting of conservative groups. Lerner also expresses concerns about a pending investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) into the IRS’s handing of Tea Party applications.

The new IRS internal documents were released in response to a federal court order addressing the October 9, 2013, Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit Judicial Watch filed seeking compliance with four separate FOIA requests about the IRS scandal.

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January 15, 2015 in IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 615

IRS Logo 2Washington Times, IRS Keeps Albuquerque Tea Party in Limbo 5 Years After Tax-exempt Status Application:

Before there were the lost Lerner emails, the congressional hearings and the retaliatory budget cuts, there was the Albuquerque Tea Party, a group of politically minded folks in New Mexico who wanted to get together and share ideas for taking back their country. The IRS had other ideas about them.

Five years after the Albuquerque Tea Party applied for tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(4) of the tax code, they remain in limbo — their application apparently no closer to being approved or denied than it was the day they mailed it to the IRS on Dec. 29, 2009.

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January 14, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 614

IRS Logo 2Politico, GOP Set to Strengthen Committee Chairmen’s Subpoena Power; One Democrat Says the Move Amounts to ‘Exporting the Issa Model.’:

House Republicans are about to give more of their committee leaders the same unilateral subpoena power that former Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa wielded against the Obama administration in his probes into the Internal Revenue Service and “Fast and Furious.” ...

Democrats denounce the moves as a power grab, repeating their complaints that Issa (R-Calif.) “abused” his subpoena authority by bombarding the administration with hundreds of demands when he led the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. But Republicans say it’s necessary after Obama’s agencies stonewalled GOP-led probes into the IRS, the health care law, the Fast and Furious gun-walking program and the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

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January 13, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, January 12, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 613

IRS Logo 2CNN, IRS Scandal Fast Facts:

Here’s some background information about the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal involving the targeting of certain groups. In May 2013, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a report indicating the targeting involved delaying the processing of applications by certain conservative groups and requesting information from them that was later deemed unnecessary.

The Justice Department is investigating circumstances surrounding the disappearance of IRS emails that Republicans believe could shed light on the possible targeting of conservative and other political groups by the agency.

Other Facts:
The investigation into the email disappearance, which the IRS said was due to a crash of former IRS official Lois Lerner’s hard drive, is part of a wider criminal probe of whether any IRS employees broke the law in unfairly singling out specific political groups for extra scrutiny.

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January 12, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 612

IRS Logo 2Washington Post:  Questions For Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch, by George F. Will:

Senate confirmation hearings put nominees on notice that, as a Michigan state legislator reportedly once said, “I’m watching everything you do with a fine-toothed comb.” Loretta Lynch, a talented lawyer and seasoned U.S. attorney, should be confirmed as attorney general. Her hearing, however, should not be perfunctory. Questions like the following would highlight some festering problems: ...

The Justice Department has been, to say no more, unhelpful regarding attempts to fully investigate and properly punish the politicization and corruption of the Internal Revenue Service. Given the department’s seeming complicity in the coverup, would it not be appropriate to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the IRS practice of suppressing the political activity of conservative groups?

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January 11, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 611

IRS Logo 2Washington Post, Shrinking IRS Struggles to Keep Up With Growing Number of Tax-exempt Charities:

Remember when conservatives accused the Internal Revenue Service of being too aggressive toward nonprofit tea party groups? Now the agency faces criticism for the opposite problem, this time related to a different type of tax-exempt organization.

An independent review released last month faulted the IRS for scant oversight of charities, saying the agency examined the groups less frequently while its budget and workforce steadily shrank in recent years.

The Government Accountability Office said in its report that the IRS audited 0.7 percent of charities in 2013, down from 0.81 percent in 2011. By comparison, the agency audited individuals and corporations at rates of 1 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively, in 2013.

Meanwhile, the IRS’s budget decreased by $900 billion after 2010, and its workforce lost 10,000 full-time employees over the same period, according to the review. The staff reductions included 47 positions within the IRS’s exempt-organizations division, which examines charities, nonprofit advocacy groups and other entities that qualify for tax-free status. ...

But congressional Republicans, who now represent a majority in both chambers, have shown little desire to boost the IRS’s resources. A comprehensive spending bill lawmakers passed in December trimmed $346 million from the agency’s budget.

It’s worth noting that the IRS has shown little appetite for challenging tax-exempt groups after its tea party controversy, in which the agency was found to have targeted nonprofit advocacy groups based on their names and policy positions.

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January 10, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, January 9, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 610

IRS Logo 2National Review, Ask Lynch About the IRS Scandal:

Confirming a new attorney general is near the top of the new Senate's to-do list. The power not to confirm the president's nominees is near the top of the Republicans' new consignment of political clout. ... They should focus on the president’s AG nominee, Loretta Lynch, and they should refuse to confirm her until she commits to appointing a Special Prosecutor to investigate the IRS.

So long as the Justice Department is controlled by the Obama administration, it's going to obstruct any investigation that might embarrass the White House. ... [T]he IRS’s persecution of Americans of a particular political stripe is far and away the most important scandal of the bunch. It's the defining corruption of the era.

Requiring Lynch to promise a full investigation, headed by a special prosecutor, has ironclad precedent. In 1973, the Senate Judiciary Committee threatened to reject the appointment of Elliot Richardson unless he appointed Archibald Cox as a Watergate special prosecutor. Richardson was confirmed as attorney general on May 25, 1973; a week before that, on May 18, it was announced that "Attorney General-designate Elliot L. Richardson" had appointed Cox, and agreed, per the Judiciary Committee's demands, to give him "an unprecedented degree of independence from Federal interference and influence in investigating and prosecuting the case," according to a contemporaneous report in the Harvard Crimson. (Richardson was a Harvard alumnus.)

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January 9, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 609

IRS Logo 2Tribune-Review, BNY Mellon Hires Official Who Headed IRS During Tea Party Targeting:

Bank of New York Mellon hired a former Internal Revenue Service commissioner who modernized the agency's infrastructure but later was the subject of criticism from congressional Republicans over his handling of what they believed was a conspiracy targeting conservative groups.

Douglas Shulman, 47, was appointed senior executive vice president and global head of Client Service Delivery at BNY Mellon and joined the firm's executive committee, the bank said Wednesday.

He will oversee more than 18,500 employees at the world's largest custody bank, BNY Mellon said. He brings experience using technology to manage immense amounts of financial data, most notably in his previous job as commissioner of the IRS from 2008 to 2012. ...

Shulman's time at the IRS has been the subject of political controversy. The agency under his watch was accused of targeting conservative groups seeking a tax exemption. Starting in 2010, an IRS unit picked certain organizations for intensive scrutiny based on their politics, particularly those identifying with so-called Tea Party conservatives, according to a May 2013 report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

Shulman, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2008, told Congress before the report was released that there was no targeting happening. Once the general inspector's report emerged, he faced skeptical Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee who said he should have known about the practice and moved to shut it down.

Shulman said he was “dismayed” by the report's conclusions, but he admitted no wrongdoing on his part.

“I certainly am not personally responsible for creating a list that had inappropriate criteria on it,” Shulman told the committee, adding “With that said, this happened on my watch. And I very much regret that it happened on my watch.”

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January 8, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 608

IRS Logo 2Forbes: Report On IRS Targeting Of Conservatives - No Christmas Pony For Darrell Issa, by Peter J. Reilly:

When I look at the report of Darrell Issa’s Committee on Oversight and Government Reform issued on the eve of Christmas Eve, I can’t help but think of the story of the kid with parents concerned about his excessive optimism.  Their therapist, who must have been quite malevolent, suggested that on Christmas morning, there be no presents under the tree and a stocking filled with horse dung.  That Christmas morning, the house was filled with the delighted shrieks of the young fellow as he ran around the house looking for the pony that Santa Claus must have brought.

Well the report is derived from 1.3 million pages and 52 transcribed interviews.   That’s quite a few stockings full of, well you know.  Still no pony. ... The pony being sought is named Watergate or maybe Watergate Jr. George Will, whose career commenced around the time of Watergate, in February 2014 argued that there have been three major scandals Watergate, IranContra and the IRS Scandal. On the other hand, John Dean, whose career as a public servant was terminated by his Watergate involvement finds comparisons between Watergate and the IRS scandal silly. ...

I recommend that if you are interested in the matter you read the report with an open mind.  Even though it strongly adopts one narrative, all the material for a different narrative is there.  That is why the New York Times can headline its coverage “Probe Fails to Link IRS Scandal to White House”  while Ben Shapiro’s Truth Revolt headlines “Issa Releases Damning Report On IRS Scandal” and leads with “Issa’s report contained emails which seemed to indicate there was visceral hatred of the Tea Party by IRS workers.”  Frankly, even if I just strongly disliked someone, I could come up with something better than calling them “icky”.

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January 7, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 607

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Enough Already On IRS Targeting! Maybe, But Whose Tax Returns Went To White House And Why?, by Robert W. Wood:

We discussed IRS targeting during 8 months of 2013, and all of 2014. It is now 2015. We are all tired of it. Many Democrats accuse conservatives of blowing the IRS scandal out of proportion, conducting a ‘witch hunt.’ They say, as Mr. Obama said to Fox News, that there is not even a smidgen of corruption. Yet it should be no wonder that some people still aren’t so sure. Transparency hasn’t characterized much of what has happened over the course of these 20 months.

To find the missing emails from the key figure who refused to testify, the IRS said it spent $10 million of taxpayer money. Even those expensive recovery efforts were unsuccessful. Then, embarrassingly, the lost or destroyed Lois Lerner emails were recovered after all by the Treasury Inspector General. Among other things, the emails showed Justice Department involvement. Yet that too has been explained with a spin that seems to point the finger at conservatives.

DOJ had to look into conservative organizations, goes the narrative, because they were so bad. Because the focus isn’t on who did what and why, we are still in the dark about much of it. For there are really two scandals. One is alleged targeting, although it really isn’t alleged any longer. Lois Lerner, the IRS, and the Inspector General all admitted it.

Questions remain how involved the administration was, how one-sided it was solely to conservatives, etc. Still, the administration’s gyrations and shifting stories consumed 20 months. A parade of narratives ranged from confused IRS employees, to rogue IRS employees, to lost emails, recycled backups, $10 million of search efforts, and more. It should be upsetting to every American. And it should be embarrassing to government officials, though they do not show it.

Who can blame Americans for being suspicious? It was a whole year into a Congressional investigation before the IRS first said the emails were ‘lost.’ Would such a belated “oh by the way…” ever be tolerated if an American taxpayer voiced it? Even the ‘take the Fifth’ attitude is disturbing, regardless of one’s understanding of our Constitutional protections. As one report slams ‘culture of bias’, is it over-reacting to be bothered by this?

Even if it is, the second IRS scandal, the alleged release of confidential taxpayer data to the White House, is far more debilitating. It too isn’t just alleged. We know it happened. What we do not know is how much was released, whose tax records they were, or who over at the White House requested them. Even worse, we do not know if we will ever know. ...

White House Press Secretary Mr. Josh Earnest has said the Obama administration “has been very rigorous in following all of the rules and regulations that govern proper communications between Treasury officials and White House officials and the Internal Revenue Service.” Maybe that is all true, but this sure looks sloppy or worse. Especially given all the platitudes about transparency, it would be nice if we could get to the bottom of this and then finally move on. After all, it is 2015.

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January 6, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Monday, January 5, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 606

IRS Logo 2Human Events, The GOP Controls the Senate: Now What?:

Early in 2015 Republicans in the House and Senate will drive a national debate and actual votes in the House and Senate on the following big five issues—and many more. ...

Reforming the IRS and ending once and for all its abuse of taxpayers by rifling through their tax returns, denying tax status to conservative or tea party groups and their release of confidential donor information to left wing groups. The administration continues to stonewall efforts to investigate the IRS scandal. Now every Democrat congressman and Senator will be able to vote to ally themselves with the American people or with Obama’s politicized IRS. Then they face the voters.

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January 5, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 605

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Bungled IRS Liens, Levies, Audits...But No Targeting, Just Ask Christine O'Donnell, by Robert W. Wood:

IRS audits are infrequent, usually impacting only a tiny fraction of the populace. Yet if you are audited multiple times, you might think you were targeted. If you are a Tea Party political candidate like former Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell, you might have good reason, especially when the IRS ‘mistakenly’ penalizes you again. She says the IRS audited her for the second time in five years and erroneously levied her bank accounts.

She couldn’t access her checking account as she was preparing to visit relatives. The tea party figure says the IRS mistakenly levied her accounts.“The day before I was heading out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend, my bank told me the IRS had frozen my accounts,” said Ms. O’Donnell. She called the IRS, who said she owed $30,000 in taxes from a 2008 house transaction (one she had fully reported).

She was eventually told the levy was an error and would be released. But the IRS took all her funds, later saying the funds would be returned. The funds have still not been replaced, Ms. O’Donnell said. “They said it was a mistake, and they removed the levy. I’m grateful, but I also wonder what someone with less government experience might do when they find themselves frozen from their money because the IRS got its paperwork mixed up.”

Ms. O’Donnell was asked where she thought her latest IRS run-in fit in the larger controversy over the IRS’s dealings with conservatives. “While I don’t believe in coincidences, it’s possible that this was just bureaucratic bungling. But either way, the IRS has to be held accountable. It needs to do its job right and not target or inconvenience taxpayers unfairly,” she said.

Since the IRS is made up of humans, sometimes the IRS is wrong. Opinions vary whether the IRS has ever targeted people for improper reasons. Richard Nixon supposedly asked the IRS to audit his political enemies. There has been no proof that President Obama tried to influence the IRS in the Tea Party targeting scandal. Yet lost emails from Lois Lerner and other key IRS employees, and numerous changes in the ‘narrative,’ have generated many conspiracy theories.

The topic is always sensitive, and the more it is pooh-poohed, the more tempers flare. For example, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, said, “Nobody believes you,” to IRS Commissioner John Koskinen when the IRS Chief testified that IRS emails really aren’t official records anyhow. As for Ms. O’Donnell, she already had a run in with the IRS when Delaware state authorities accessed her IRS tax file (!) in 2010, right around the time she announced her candidacy.

A story was leaked alleging that she owed back taxes to the IRS. The story was false, and Delaware authorities claim the records check was routine. Even so, a tax lien was placed on a house she had sold two years earlier. The lien was publicized and used to discredit Ms. O’Donnell’s candidacy even though she no longer owned the home in question. The IRS eventually removed the lien, blaming it on a computer error.

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January 4, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 604

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  IRS Hid Conservative Targeting Until After 2012 Presidential Election. Smidgen Corrupt?, by Robert W. Wood:

Was the IRS used for politics? It’s a fair question, yet one that suggests an answer when you look at numerous ‘coincidences’ that are too hard to fathom. Add that to that the testimony of key IRS figures and their inconsistent emails. The result is a mismatch revealing an IRS run amok in political spin it later admitted was wrong.

Ironically, a new report issued by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee concerns some handlers at the IRS who seemed to be playing politics while criticizing conservative organizations for playing politics. That is only one irony wrung from the more than 200 page report. The report summarizes its investigation into the IRS’s treatment of politically active nonprofit groups. ...

Many democrats have dismissed the report as more political theater with facts taken out of context. But it is hard to argue with the facts: A top IRS official considered going public with the agency’s targeting of conservative groups at a hearing just months before the 2012 presidential election. One wonders what might have happened in the election if he had. Ultimately, the IRS official decided against revealing the bombshell news, according to the new House committee report.

The IRS official was none other than the Deputy IRS Commissioner Steven Miller. He would become Acting Commissioner, then would be fired by the President in May of 2013. Would a more prompt disclosure to Congress have made for a different Presidential election?

It is impossible to say, but it is hard to argue with the notion that this truly is political. Mr. Miller wrote to his Chief of Staff in June 2012, a month before a House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing. Significantly, Mr. Miller wrote that he was weighing whether to testify to “put a stake” in the “c4” issue — apparently a reference to allegations about politics playing a role in the agency’s denial of tax-exempt, 501(c)(4) status to conservative groups.

At the very least, the email makes it plain that Mr. Miller was aware of the situation. Mr. Miller ultimately testified on July 25, 2012 but never revealed his knowledge of the IRS misconduct. ...

Mr. Miller testified before Congress six times from May 2012 until May 2013, before being forced to resign. Until the bitter end, Mr. Miller said the targeting was not motivated by politics, but his emails show otherwise. And the administration’s handling of the investigation was appalling, the report claims.

The belated disclosure that emails were destroyed, the who’s-on-first routine about the recycled hard drives, the no smidgen of corruption, were all telling. Too many excuses generally are. How was the administration’s cooperation? The report says that, “Even as recently as July 2014, after the IRS informed Congress that it had destroyed two years of Lerner’s e-mails, the FBI continued its refusal to provide any information about its investigation.”

The Justice Department even considered criminal prosecutions, a topic the Justice Department discussed with disgraced Exempt Organizations Chief Lois Lerner. It’s all rather amazing when one recalls President Obama’s testy “not even a smidgen of corruption” remark to Fox News in February 2014.

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January 3, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, January 2, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 603

IRS Logo 2Washington Post, The Year in Review 2014, by Dave Barry:

[I]t was a miserable 12 months. In case you have forgotten why, let’s take one last look back, starting with …

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, who oversaw the rollout of Obamacare, resigns from the Cabinet to take a position overseeing e-mail storage for the Internal Revenue Service. ...

In Washington scandal news, the Internal Revenue Service, responding to a subpoena, tells congressional investigators that it cannot produce 28 months of Lois Lerner’s e-mails because the hard drive they were stored on failed, and the hard drive was thrown away, and the backup tapes were erased, and no printed copies were saved — contrary to the IRS’s own record-keeping policy, which was eaten by the IRS’s dog. “It was just one crazy thing after another,” states the IRS, “and it got us to thinking: All these years we’ve been subjecting taxpayers to everything short of rectal probes if they can’t produce EVERY SINGLE DOCUMENT WE WANT, and here we lose YEARS’ worth of official records! So from now on, if taxpayers tell us they lost something, or just plain forgot to make a tax payment, we’ll be like, ‘Hey, whatever! Stuff happens!’ Because who are we to judge?”

But all kidding aside, you can bet that before this thing is over there will be a strongly worded report.

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January 2, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 602

IRS Logo 2Breitbart:  True The Vote Appeals Dismissal of Lawsuit Against IRS:

True the Vote, a Houston, Texas-based non-profit organization focused on “voters’ rights and election integrity,” has appealed a U.S. District Court’s order dismissing their lawsuit against the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Breitbart Texas has learned. The lawsuit had alleged that the IRS had improperly delayed granting True the Vote’s application for 501(c)(3) status and targeted them as a conservative organization, but the opinion, issued by Judge Reggie B. Walton in October, found that the IRS had taken sufficient “remedial steps to address the alleged behavior.” In an exclusive interview with Breitbart Texas, True the Vote representatives shared why they believe their appeal is valid and represents an important issue for conservative grassroots organizations to follow.

“The IRS targeting scandal is not over and neither is our effort to seek justice in the federal courts,” said True the Vote Founder Catherine Engelbrecht in a statement provided to Breitbart Texas. “Since the dismissal, ‘lost’ emails specific to our case have been found and assertions that the agency changed its ways have yet to prove true by any verifiable manner. Until the Court fully addresses the IRS’ wrongdoing, the risk of future political abuses without consequences will only compound.” ...

True the Vote’s Notice of Appeal was officially filed with the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia on Thursday, December 18.

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January 1, 2015 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 601

IRS Logo 2Washington Free Beacon:  IRS Watchdog Continues to Hide Records on White House Leaks; Of 2509 Documents, Government Agrees to Release 31:

An independent IRS monitor announced Monday it will block the release of roughly 400 more pages of documents related to unauthorized leaks of confidential taxpayer information to the White House.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) told the watchdog group Cause of Action it would be withholding nearly all of the 2,500 documents it located that were related to unauthorized IRS leaks to the White House. Earlier this month, TIGTA told Cause of Action it was withholding roughly 2,100 of the documents and said it would take an additional two weeks to review the rest.

TIGTA released 31 pages of documents on Monday to Cause of Action, 27 of which were already publicly available. Most were responses to letters from Republican senators.

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December 31, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Days 501-600

December 30, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

The IRS Scandal, Day 600

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Rev. Al Sharpton's Key Tax Tips...From Lois Lerner, by Robert W. Wood:

In Tell it to the Reverend Al, the New York Post says Rev. Sharpton still owes New York State $916,000 from tax liens filed against him between 2008 and 2010. In all, Mr. Sharpton is said to have $4.5 million of tax liens. He claims he paid them, but state officials say otherwise. This isn’t the first time his records do not line up. Indeed, on two prior occasions he suffered inconvenient fires that destroyed records.

It’s a little like the crash of Lois Lerner’s hard drive. Those fires destroyed Mr. Sharpton’s financial records just as he was about to turn them over to officials. And records are key to tax disputes. As Mr. Sharpton works though his tax problems with or without records, he appears to have a suit made of Teflon, even when it comes to taxes.

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December 30, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, December 29, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 599

IRS Logo 2IRS Statement Regarding FOIA Lawsuit:

There are a number of news accounts that incorrectly identify the Internal Revenue Service as being involved in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit with Cause of Action (D.C. District Court Civil Action No. 1:13-cv-01225-ABJ). That lawsuit involves the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and its investigations, not the IRS.

Moreover, press and Internet accounts regarding this particular FOIA lawsuit inaccurately suggest that the IRS is withholding documents in the lawsuit. The IRS is not withholding documents in the FOIA lawsuit because the IRS is not a party to the lawsuit. Moreover, any suggestions that the IRS is not cooperating or somehow withholding documents from TIGTA are also inaccurate. The IRS remains committed to cooperating with TIGTA as well as other oversight bodies.

We understand the FOIA lawsuit seeks records relating to TIGTA’s investigations of allegations of improper disclosures — and that TIGTA has identified approximately 2,500 pages worth of records concerning its investigations into such allegations. Based on the public record, there is no basis to conclude that these records identified by TIGTA involve 2,500 taxpayers or tax returns.

Additional questions on this matter should be directed to TIGTA.

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December 29, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 598

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Exactly What Kind Of A Criminal Might Lois Lerner Be?, by Peter J. Reilly:

If Lois Lerner is a criminal, exactly what kind of criminal is she? If you spend much time reading IRS scandal or, as I like to call it, Teapartygate material, you will often encounter some form of the question that Joe Otto asks in his post titled Why Isn’t Lois Lerner In Prison Yet? , since as he notes “ Lois Lerner’s decision to weaponize the IRS against Tea Party groups is absolutely criminal!”

OK. Well, I’m a little bit of a geek and I’m fairly certain that there is not a section in the United States Code titled – Weaponizing IRS against Tea Party groups -, at least not yet. Give them time. There will probably be a constitutional amendment to say that the Eighth Amendment does not apply in cases of IRS Weaponizing, so that the punishment can be really unusual. Anyway we’re not there yet, so I’ve been trying to figure out what the specific crimes are that Lois Lerner can be charged with. ...

One of the scenarios that fits a lot of the facts that have come out so far is that Lois Lerner was frustrated that people inside the IRS were not serious enough about dark money 501(c)(4) groups being in violation of the law. ... A prosecutor would have to prove that Lois Lerner knew she had a legal duty not to disclose the information to the FBI and chose to violate that duty knowing that the violation was criminal – not that she should have known, rather that she did know.

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December 28, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 597

IRS Logo 2The Hill:  IRS: Search for Lerner Emails Almost Over:

A Treasury inspector general will likely conclude its search for former IRS official Lois Lerner’s missing emails “in the next several weeks,” John Koskinen, the agency’s commissioner, said Thursday.

Once Treasury’s inspector general for tax administration is finished, the Senate Finance Committee would be able to put the final touches on its investigation into the IRS’s singling out of Tea Party groups, something Koskinen said he hoped to see early in 2015.

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December 27, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 26, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 596

IRS Logo 2Newsmax:  Barack Obama IRS Scandal: 8 Key Figures Caught Up in Tea Party Tax Targeting Controversy:

The longer the IRS scandal stays around, the worse it gets. Conservative and, particularly, Tea Party organizations were targeted by the IRS leading up to the 2012 campaign, creating a controversy that surrounds President Barack Obama.

Here are eight key figures involved in it, investigating it, or who were victims of it:

  1. Lois Lerner ...
  2. Douglas Shulman ...
  3. Darrell Issa ...
  4. Jay Carney ...
  5. Tom Fitton ...
  6. Chris Littleton ...
  7. Drew Ryan ...
  8. Catherine Engelbrecht ...

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December 26, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 25, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 595

IRS Logo 2The Verdict:  Not All Scandals Are Created Equal: The CIA vs. the IRS, by Neil H. Buchanan (George Washington):

When the news of the wrongdoing at the IRS emerged last year, I was one of the people who was most concerned about the possible abuse of power by the agency. Knowing that the IRS had been used in decades past as a political weapon, in particular by the rogue Nixon Administration, it would have been truly horrible if our worst fears had turned out to be true. If there had been a political operation that was using the IRS for partisan purposes, that would have been a scandal.

No one ever said that it was a bad idea to gather evidence, and no one even once suggested that the correct response to any wrongdoing at the IRS would be to “look forward, not backward,” as an excuse to allow guilty parties to walk free. Instead, we all wanted to know whether there was sufficient evidence to suggest that any wrongdoing was directed by political operatives (answering to the White House or others), or instead that this was a matter of isolated bad decisions.

We were fortunate that the scandal became public news because of the release of an inspector general’s report about the IRS employees’ improper screening techniques. Therefore, rather than starting from a blank slate, with everyone in the dark about even the most basic facts, we were presented up front with an independent report that laid bare what had happened.

And once people digested that report, it was obvious that this was not a scandal. Correct procedures had not been developed or followed within the IRS, but internal measures had already corrected the behavior. In fact, we later found out that the inspector general’s report had underreported facts that would have made the situation look even less suspicious, because the “targeting” of political groups actually covered the political spectrum from right to left, whereas the report had initially made it appear that only extreme conservative groups had been subjected to additional scrutiny.

I wrote two columns on Verdict (here and here), as well as some posts on the Dorf on Law blog (for example, here), in which I concluded that this was a “non-scandal scandal.” John Dean (who knows something about the Nixon Administration’s abuse of power) reached the same conclusion in a Verdict column in May 2013, describing the IRS situation (as well as two other candidates for “scandal” status) as “all smoke and no fire.”

Even so, Republicans in the House of Representatives refused to let go of the IRS story, spending thousands of hours and millions of taxpayer dollars trying to gather more evidence of possible wrongdoing. They have failed spectacularly. This must mean either that there is no evidence, or that the evidence is being skillfully hidden.

For those who believe that there might yet be evidence out there regarding this still-not-a-scandal, the question has been what to do next. My colleague Ronald Rotunda, for example, suggested in a recent Verdict column that a special prosecutor should be appointed, with special powers to pry loose evidence that might exist to prove a political connection between the Obama Administration and the IRS’s misdeeds.

Although I strongly disagree with Professor Rotunda’s reading of the evidence and his conclusions, I can at least respect his fundamental concern. If there were sufficient reason to believe that there is hidden evidence, then certainly we would want to pursue such evidence through appropriate means. My take on the current situation is that there is not even much smoke, much less fire, and that any further inquiries are based on little more than the hope among Republicans that such inquiries might turn up something to suggest a real scandal. Those who disagree with that assessment can (and do) argue for further efforts to investigate.

There is, therefore, nothing particularly unusual about the IRS non-scandal, at least categorically. Some government actors did something that they should not have done. We have tried to figure out what happened, and why. The available evidence cannot support any prosecutions. Now, we are arguing about a judgment call regarding when to say that enough is enough.

Dorf on Law:  Playing With Scandals: Everything is a Cynical Farce, by Neil H. Buchanan (George Washington):

[T]he worst-case scenario in the IRS non-scandal scandal was, as I have always acknowledged, truly bad, if it had been true.  If there really were any credible evidence suggesting that the Obama Administration had orchestrated an effort to harm its political opponents by abusing the power of the IRS, that would be scandalous.  Happily, no such evidence has emerged.  Instead, the dead-enders have been reduced to saying, "There must be something going on.  We just need to keep digging."

Why are they so certain that something evil was afoot?  Apparently, they find it hard to believe that their opponents are not as cynical as they are.  (Dick Cheney himself said that the Obama people must have been using the IRS for political ends -- presumably because he could easily see himself doing the same thing.)  Because these people simply believe as a matter of deep commitment that something must be out there, the game is then to infer evil intent from every comment and action by the President.  Remember when Obama, in a State of the Union Speech, criticized the Citizens United decision?  Most people remember that moment because of Justice Alito's angry facial expression, caught on camera.  IRS scandal-mongers, by contrast, have insinuated that there is somehow a connection between Obama's comments and the IRS employees' actions.

Again, however, I concede in the column that this could have been a bad thing.  The people who worry about the IRS possibly being misused for political ends are not worrying about something that is inherently harmless.  They are simply refusing to give up the ghost on an investigation that has gone nowhere, and that shows no signs of ever leading anywhere. ...

One idea that I mention briefly toward the end of the column, but which I do not develop in any detail, is the comparison between possible excuses for refusing to prosecute or investigate the CIA, but to go after the IRS with guns blazing.  Remember, in order even to compare the IRS non-scandal scandal with the CIA torture scandal, we had to "go meta," in order to find some way in which the two situations could be comparably bad.  Once we have done that, however, then we must also be willing to apply the same level of generality to the arguments for and against aggressive prosecution of wrongdoing.  If the argument is, "We would harm America by failing to understand the important public service that the CIA provides," then the argument could also be, "We are harming America by vilifying the IRS." ...

[A]t a sufficiently high level of generality, one could make the argument that the future of America depends on a functioning government, and the government depends on revenue, and the ability to collect future revenues is threatened by politicians "looking backward" and attacking the IRS and its employees (and, hardly coincidentally, cutting its budget even as the IRS's legal responsibilities expand).  Attacking the CIA makes Americans less safe (an assertion that is obviously false)?  Well, attacking the IRS puts American democracy itself at risk!! ...

The common thread, then, is that the CIA's actions must be defended, because doing so reinforces the notion that the government is lawless (and always will be), while the IRS must be attacked because it is essential for the cynics to make everyone believe that the government is out to get them.  The less trust we have in our institutions, the better for those who want to further pervert those institutions.

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December 25, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 594

IRS Logo 2U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, The Internal Revenue Service’s Targeting of Conservative Tax- Exempt Applicants: Report of Findings for the 113th Congress (Dec. 23, 2014) (226 Pages):

The Committee’s investigation has resulted in the following findings to date about the Internal Revenue Service’s inappropriate treatment of tax-exempt applicants:

  • The Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative-oriented applicants for taxexempt status;
  • Unlike applications from conservative groups, the small batch of applications from liberal-oriented groups received additional scrutiny for non-political reasons. Of the applications that received additional scrutiny, only seven contained the word “progress” or “progressive,” all of which were subsequently approved by the IRS, while Tea Party groups were subjected to an unprecedented degree of review and years-long delays.
  • Senior Internal Revenue Service officials covered up the misconduct and misled Congress about the existence and nature of the targeting;
  • The Internal Revenue Service sought to rein in conservative-oriented non-profits as early as 2010;
  • The Administration is using the targeting as pretext to support its proposed regulation to limit political speech of conservative non-profits;
  • Mismanagement among the senior leadership of the Internal Revenue Service contributed to the targeting;
  • The Internal Revenue Service and the Obama Administration knowingly and wrongly blamed line-level employees for the misconduct;
  • Employees of the Internal Revenue Service inappropriately used non-official e-mail to conduct official government business;
  • The Internal Revenue Service has compromised its traditional position as an independent tax administrator;
  • The Obama Administration exhibited a lack of accountability for the IRS misconduct;
  • Lois Lerner’s refusal to testify hindered the Committee’s investigation;
  • The Internal Revenue Service obstructed the Committee’s investigation; and
  • The White House and congressional Democrats obstructed the Committee’s investigation.m

New York Times:  Inquiry Into I.R.S. Lapses Shows No Links to White House:

An 18-month congressional investigation into the Internal Revenue Service’s mistreatment of conservative political groups seeking tax exemptions failed to show coordination between agency officials and political operatives in the White House, according to a report released on Tuesday.

The I.R.S. has admitted that before the 2012 election it inappropriately delayed approval of tax exemption applications by groups affiliated with the Tea Party movement, but the I.R.S. and its parent agency, the Treasury Department, have said that the errors were not motivated by partisanship.

Wall Street Journal, IRS Considered Tax on Donations to Political Groups; Move Could Have Disproportionately Hurt Conservative Activists:

Internal Revenue Service officials considered imposing a tax on large donations to many tax-exempt political organizations in 2011, recently released emails show, a move that could have disproportionately hurt conservative activists.

The discovery comes as part of Republican lawmakers’ broader investigation into the IRS’s treatment of conservative groups. It is further fueling GOP suspicions that some agency officials sought to suppress conservatives’ use of tax-exempt organizations for political speech.

The internal emails “demonstrate that the IRS sought to use the gift tax as one part of a larger effort to crack down on the political speech” of conservative tax-exempt groups, said Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. ...

The separate IRS effort to impose gift tax on big donors to tax-exempt organizations has gotten less attention. But GOP lawmakers are concerned about the gift-tax effort since it first surfaced in 2011, in part because conservatives have made extensive use of nonprofit entities, such as Crossroads GPS, in recent years for political outreach to voters.

Establishing such groups as tax-exempt entities is attractive, because it allows organizers to keep donors’ identities secret. Imposing a gift tax on those donations could discourage them, advocates fear. The top gift tax rate was 35% in 2011 and is now 40%.

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December 24, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 593

IRS Logo 2Daily Caller:  BOMBSHELL REPORT: IRS Targeted ‘Icky’ Conservative Groups:

Top IRS officials specifically targeted tea party groups and misled the public about its secret political targeting program led by ex-official Lois Lerner, according to a bombshell new congressional report.

The Daily Caller has obtained an advance copy of a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee report set to be released Tuesday morning that definitively proves malicious intent by the IRS to improperly block conservative groups that an IRS adviser deemed “icky.” (That’s right. “Icky.”)

“The Committee has identified eight senior leaders who were in a position to prevent or to stop the IRS’s targeting of conservative applicants,” the Oversight report states. “Each of these leaders could have and should have done more to prevent the IRS’s targeting of conservative tax-exempt applicants.”

Here are six major takeaways from the report:

  1. The IRS admitted that the front office was “spinning” about the targeting rumors as early as 2012, after IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman denied the tea party targeting to Congress. ...
  2. Then-IRS commissioner Steven T. Miller almost broke down and told the truth about the tea party targeting at a July 2012 hearing, but Lerner’s sidekick Nikole Flax told him not to. ...
  3. The IRS definitely treated tea party applications by a different standard than applications from other (c)(4) groups. ...
  4. Lois Lerner expressed her frustration about having to potentially approve a lot of groups, and her colleagues in the agency assured her that she wouldn’t have to. ...
  5. So the IRS reached out to outside advisers to help come up with ways to deny tax-exempt status to “icky” organizations. ...
  6. A May 2011 email from a lawyer in the IRS chief counsel’s office made clear that the agency sought to use a new “gift tax” to target donors to nonprofit political groups.

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December 23, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, December 22, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 592

IRS Logo 2American Thinker:  How to Break Through the IRS Stonewall:

The Internal Revenue Service is currently employing a naked Catch-22 strategy in order to prevent disclosure of its potential misdeeds in disclosing private taxpayer information on conservatives to the White House.  The conservative legal group Cause of Action filed a Freedom of Information request in 2012, asking for documents that relate to disclosure, and was stonewalled, so then filed suit.

An Obama appointee, Judge Amy Berman Jackson, ruled for Cause of Action and ordered Treasury to search for them.  The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has disclosed that 2,500 have been found.  This is where the Catch-22 was invoked.  Because it is illegal to share private taxpayer information, the IRS is claiming that it would be illegal for it to reveal evidence of its disclosure of such information.  You have to admire the chutzpah. ...

I suspect there would be as much stonewalling as possible, but with two years in which to act, there could be ample opportunity for Congress to get to the bottom of this, especially since Judge Jackson has made her first ruling and does not seem to want to be flouted.  As the lame-duck Obama administration draws to a close, there will be a potential decision point for Democrats in Congress if the worst suspicions of politicizing the IRS appear to be turning out to be confirmed.  If it looks like evidence will be developed showing that the IRS and White House violated the law, Chick Schumer’s admission that Obamacare was a mistake could look in comparison like a day at the beach for the Obama wing of the party.

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December 22, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 591

IRS Logo 2Daily Caller:  Obama Admin Releases ONE PERCENT Of Its Documents About IRS-White House Coordination:

The Treasury Department released four new redacted pages of documents about the White House’s role in the Internal Revenue Service targeting scandal, bringing the total number of pages released up to 31 — a whole one percent of the total number of pages.

A federal court judge in the advocacy firm Cause of Action’s lawsuit against the Treasury inspector general set Jan. 30 as a starting date to begin briefings on whether or not the firm can get at the documents.

The Cause of Action federal court case for the documents was successful, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act. But the Justice Department began trying to delay the release of the documents by a matter of two weeks. Treasury Secretary and former Obama White House chief of staff Jacob Lew then seized the documents.

Lew is arguing that because the White House and IRS illegally exchanged confidential taxpayer information, then releasing the documents would be an illegal disclosure of confidential taxpayer information.

As The Daily Caller reported, at least some of the confidential taxpayer information the IRS’ Lois Lerner dished out went to senior White House domestic policy adviser Jeanne Lambrew.

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December 21, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 590

IRS Logo 2The Blaze:  The IRS Must Be Put Down Like a Rabid Dog, by John Linder (former Member, U.S. House of Representatives, 1993-2011):

Since it was first disclosed that the IRS abused the taxpayers and the law, the Democrat refrain has been, “…it is clear that there was no White House involvement…” Well, now it is clear that there was White House involvement, but it is against the law to disclose it.

A watchdog group, Cause of Action, filed a Freedom of Information Act request for email between the IRS and the White House. They have been informed by the Treasury Department that 2,509 such emails exist, but: “These pages consist of return information protected by 26 U.S.C. § 6103 and may not be disclosed absent an express statutory exception. Because no such exception exists here, we are withholding those.”

So, it is a felony to disclose the information that the IRS disclosed to the White House unless Congress passes a statutory exemption that will not become law unless this president, who broke the law, agrees to sign the statute so that we can see how he broke the law. Fat chance!

That, dear reader, is why the much talked about tax reform in the new Congress will fail. Any tax reform that leaves a corrupt system in place will be abused again by future administrations as unscrupulous as the Obama administration. ...

[T]he IRS will be put down like a rabid dog. No agency of government should have the power to abuse our personal information for political gain, which the IRS has proven its willing to do.

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December 20, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, December 19, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 589

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  20 Facts About IRS Targeting, Those Emails And The White House, by Robert W. Wood:

The IRS scandal started 587 days ago in May 2013, but it actually goes back years earlier. President Obama’s testy “not even a smidgen of corruption” remark to Fox News in February 2014 showed fatigue. There was simply no evidence that the IRS was used for political targeting, he made clear. Maybe, but here are 20 things every American taxpayer should know about it: ...

What will item 21 be? Or 22 or 23? You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist searching for a grassy knoll or second shooter to want to know. Whether the explanation is a spontaneous demonstration from a youtube video, conclusive evidence that some folks down at the IRS were confused, or something else, we should know. If those IRS employees were truly  self-starters, free-thinkers who were targeting without direction from their bosses, perhaps they shouldn’t get bonuses, not big ones anyhow.

Besides, computer crashes don’t mean anything, even if it was a full year into the federal investigation when the IRS revealed that all those emails from the key two year period had been long gone for some time. Now, they are back and we may soon be able to see them, as well as the even more important communications between the IRS and DOJ.

Everyone may have had the best of intentions here. No one may have intended any breach of law. And maybe the IRS should not have to administer our insanely complex tax law, but it does. And without regard to political party, every American should want to get to the bottom of this once and for all.

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December 19, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 588

IRS Logo 2Washington Times editorial:  Obama’s IRS Faces Scrutiny With Republican-led Congress:

The corruption of the Internal Revenue Service is still under investigation, but the public has learned a lot already: The IRS targeted conservative and tea party groups for extra scrutiny and harassment, Lois G. Lerner tried to hide behind the Fifth Amendment to avoid prosecution for violating the rights of taxpayers, and the president of the United States assured one and all that there was not even a “smidgen of corruption” at the agency when he knew better.

What the public did not know until recently was that the White House requested and received from the IRS the tax records of 2,500 taxpayers for White House inspection. President Obama is not the first president to try to use the IRS against his enemies, but he is the first to do it wholesale. President Kennedy shared tax information with The Washington Post about Sen. Barry Goldwater and senior members of his 1964 presidential campaign team. They were subjected to grueling audits. President Nixon tried to get the IRS to go after his enemies when he faced impeachment. ...

To argue that this is part of a cover-up is to argue the obvious. The arrogance of a government that abuses the rights of its citizens, ignoring specific laws to do so, must be held to account like everyone else, and if justice is done a flurry of subpoenas for a number of White House and IRS officials will follow soon after the Christmas holidays. Congress has disregarded oversight duties in this matter, and soon there will be a new Congress and the 114th Congress will have an opportunity to take these duties seriously.

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December 18, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 587

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Did You Hear The One About Lois Lerner Walking Into A Bar?, by Peter J. Reilly:

Judicial Watch has come out with the latest in the perennial never ending IRS scandal.  It has managed to pry loose from the Justice Department e-mails that show that Lois Lerner, who was imported into the IRS from the Federal Election Commission, met with the Justice Department to discuss whether people who had lied on their exemption applications about political activities should be prosecuted.  The Justice Department is not releasing further documents which would explain why it did not prosecute anybody.  As I’ve been following this drama, I’ve often found myself looking at it from a different angle than everybody else, which is what makes me think of this as a story about Lois Lerner walking into a bar.

The IRS is tasked with a pretty big job having to collect over $2 trillion dollars.  Since Congress has decided to use Title 26( Internal Revenue Code) as its go to title to encourage or discourage this that and the other thing, the IRS gets diverted quite a bit from its core mission of collecting revenue.  To work for the IRS as a revenue agent, the education requirement is a bachelors degree with 30 hours in accounting.  So your core enforcement people in the IRS are accountants.  Task twenty odd thousand accountants with collecting $2 trillion dollars and a bunch of miscellaneous stuff, some of the miscellaneous stuff is going to slide by.  So it is understandable that they did not do such a hot job on squelching 501(c)(4) organizations that were engaging in political activity.

Then along comes Lois Lerner who is not a career IRS employee.  She is excited about violations of the campaign financing laws and now can put numerous minions into zealously scrutinizing applications, thinking up more and more devious ways in which 501(c)(4) status can be abused.  None of the thing that my father always told me about how to behave in a bar was to never talk about religion or politics.  Lois Lerner apparently could talk of nothing other than politics and that may be what is behind this mess.  That’s why Lois Lerner walking into the IRS is like her walking into a bar.  It was not good for Lois Lerner and it was not good for the bar.ot being a career IRS employee, she did not have IRS culture embedded in her. ...

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December 17, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 586

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal op-ed:  Congress Can Pry Open a Clammed-Up IRS, by Charles Lipson (University of Chicago, Department of Political Science):

The agency pleads that it can’t share the documents that it may have shared illegally because that would be illegal.

The White House and IRS are entangled in a sticky court case with major political ramifications. It concerns allegations that the IRS illegally shared private taxpayer information with the White House related to conservative individuals or organizations. The Treasury Department said this month that although it has found a cache of documents that may be pertinent, it is not allowed by law to release them. The question now is who can find out whether the Obama White House has in effect weaponized the IRS, turning it into an agency that targets Americans out of favor with the administration.

Most likely, for reasons outlined below, Congress will have to be the one to find out. While we are far from knowing if any violations of the law have occurred, this is a serious issue. Misuse of the IRS was an article in Richard Nixon ’s impeachment—and he was only accused of trying to politicize the tax agency. ...

Treasury has clammed up again, trying to keep its contacts with the White House secret and reiterating that it is exempt from disclosure. The administration has offered a bizarre rationale: It would be illegal to turn over documents the IRS shared illegally since it is illegal for the IRS to share the files with anyone, including the court.

There still is a wide gap between our knowing that there is a cache of “responsive documents” and anyone establishing a direct connection between White House political operatives and the IRS. However revealing the documents may be, they would need to be followed up by interviews and depositions, which may lead to more documents. Only a thorough investigation can accomplish that.

A politicized Justice Department cannot be trusted to conduct an impartial investigation or to appoint a reliable outside prosecutor. This means that any serious inquiry is up to Congress.

Republican leaders are understandably cautious about this approach. When they take control of Congress in January, their overriding goal is to establish a track record for governing, not a pattern of investigating the Obama administration’s past transgressions. But this case should be an exception. Any White House interference with the IRS is a fundamental assault on the rule of law and the disinterested application of the tax code. If allowed to stand, it will serve as a pernicious precedent for future administrations. 

Congress should proceed carefully but steadily. ... If the documents show repeated, politicized contacts between the IRS and the White House—and only then—the House and Senate should vote to establish a joint congressional committee to investigate. ... The heavy lifting, particularly taking depositions under oath, should be done behind closed doors, beginning with lower-level people who might have seen unauthorized documents or their political uses. Give them transactional immunity and make clear they face serious legal peril if they fail to testify fully and truthfully. Then follow the chain of testimony up the organizational chain. A well-conducted investigation would either clear the White House’s senior political aides or implicate them in serious wrongdoing. 

The search for the truth here ought to be a bipartisan issue. It may yet become one as Democrats back away from the Obama White House.

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December 16, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (7)

Monday, December 15, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 585

IRS Logo 2San Diego Union-Tribune:  Is AG Ignoring Lessons From IRS Scandal?:

A Virginia-based conservative group filed a federal First Amendment lawsuit this week accusing California Attorney General Kamala Harris of engaging in the kind of activity that was the subject of the recent scandal involving the Internal Revenue Service. Are state officials trying to chill the speech of conservative nonprofits?

“Not only did IRS employees improperly target groups based on politics, but they also improperly demanded a host of details about the groups’ activities, according to a report on the abuses by a Treasury Department inspector general,” according to a Washington Post report about the federal scandal. The IRS even demanded information about some of these groups’ smallest donors.

Now the Americans for Prosperity Foundation is saying the state of California is improperly demanding information about its donors – and is threatening unusually harsh penalties if the group doesn’t comply. One other conservative group has filed a separate lawsuit against the attorney general, which is now in the Ninth Circuit. ...

Harris has long been touted as a rising national political star. If so, then she ought to learn some lessons from a scandal that gave the IRS such a black eye.

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December 15, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Law Firm Tax Rankings, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, December 14, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 584

IRS Logo 2Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial:  IRS Defies Order to Turn Over Tax Documents:

Back in February, President Barack Obama said the apparent targeting of conservative organizations by the IRS was not illegal or politically motivated, but rather the result of “some bone-headed decisions,” and that “not even a smidgen of corruption” was at play. A few months — and developments — later, however, the president’s words are even less believable than they were then.

First, nonprofit watchdog group Cause of Action filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documents from the IRS indicating that the agency had been sharing individuals’ private tax data with the White House. (The group was trying to obtain information proving the existence of an independent investigation into alleged unauthorized access to the Koch brothers’ tax returns by former White House senior economics adviser Austan Goolsbee.) When the agency dragged its feet and ultimately denied the request, Cause of Action sued. A judge ruled in Cause of Action’s favor, ordering the IRS to turn over all of the documents by December 1.

Despite the court order, however, the IRS has continued to stonewall, refusing to share the requested records. While the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) claimed initially that the IRS would comply and turn over more than 2,000 pages of documents, it abruptly reneged, saying in a letter to Cause of Action on December 1 that, yes, they did indeed have 2,043 pages of documents relating to the FOIA request, but that Cause of Action couldn’t see them due to federal privacy laws.

So, if you’re keeping score at home, the IRS claimed that turning over the documents would be an invasion of privacy — despite the fact that the agency already invaded that privacy by having the documents in the first place.

These new developments highlight a very cozy and, in all likelihood, very much illegal relationship between the Obama administration and the IRS. We still don’t know the full extent and depth of the IRS targeting scandal, but this case could provide evidence of coordination. For now, we are left with a ton of questions:

What, exactly, was the White House doing with more than 2,000 pages of documents containing private tax data of various Americans? Is the IRS helping the Obama administration go after the “dark money” groups the president and his party have long condemned? And what are we to make of the fact that as many as 30,000 supposedly destroyed emails from former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner have suddenly turned up — emails from January 2009 through June 2011, the time period during which the IRS was ramping up its conservative targeting efforts?

Does the IRS just have really bad luck with computers? Are those in charge of finding the emails incompetent? Or is there something more coordinated and corrupt going on? And, if so, how much did President Obama know about it?

When President Obama took office, he swore that his would be “the most transparent” presidency in history, but his administration’s hostility regarding actual transparency, as well as the free press, remains alarming and unacceptable. All of the requested IRS records need to be made public, and if the Obama administration and the IRS won’t do it, then the Republican-led Congress needs to push for hearings to get to the bottom of the matter.

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December 14, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 583

IRS Logo 2The Blaze:  Did the IRS Share Confidential Taxpayer Data With the White House? It May Take Several More Months to Find Out:

A government watchdog group has been forced to ask a federal court to insist that the government hand over thousands of documents that could show the IRS gave confidential taxpayer information to the White House.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, an internal oversight arm of the Treasury Department, indicated last month it was willing to hand over up to 2,500 documents that could show the IRS improperly shared this information with the Obama administration.

TIGTA had collected these documents after Austan Goolsbee, the former chair of the White House’s Counsel of Economic Advisers, implied that Koch Industries doesn’t pay any corporate income tax, which raised questions about how Goolsbee would know that.

But last week, TIGTA told Cause of Action, the group seeking those documents, that it could not hand them over after all. TIGTA said the rules of the tax code would prevent it from making them public. TIGTA said the documents contain confidential taxpayer data that cannot be released.

As a result, Cause of Action filed a new motion in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that asks the court to dispute TIGTA’s decision. That motion indicates a resolution of the fight could still take several months.

Under Cause of Action’s proposed motion, the group would file a motion for summary judgment in late January, TIGTA would file its own arguments in late February, and all replies would be due by early April.

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December 13, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, December 12, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 582

IRS Logo 2Columbus Dispatch editorial: ‘Lost’ IRS Emails Might Reveal Truth:

It’s unsurprising that the “lost” email messages of former IRS official Lois Lerner, the disappearance of which conveniently coincided with her being investigated for the improper targeting of conservative groups, have been located by the Treasury Department’s inspector general.

Tech experts, as well as common sense, suggested from the outset that it was implausible that the emails just happened to vanish when they did, and were unrecoverable.

But that was the administration’s story, and it was sticking to it — at least until after the midterm elections.

The inspector general reported that 30,000 of Lerner’s emails have been recovered from the period of January 2009 to June 2011, the critical time when she and her colleagues were going after nonprofit groups whose ideology they didn’t like.

The content of the emails is unknown; investigators have said it might take months to sift through them.

For those who have lost track: Politically active conservative groups had their applications for nonprofit status delayed leading up to the 2012 elections and were asked improper questions about their affiliations, beliefs and even the content of their prayers. Some cried foul, but largely were ignored for months.

The Internal Revenue Service denied the targeting until after the election, and only when it became clear the issue wasn’t going away.

In May 2013, Lerner staged a limited confession in response to a planted question at a conference, in apparent attempt to limit the damage.

President Barack Obama at first expressed anger and vowed to get to the bottom of the issue ... until he felt it had blown over enough to dismiss the whole affair as a “phony scandal” without a “ smidgen” of corruption involved.

Meanwhile, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, appointed about a year ago, went before Congress insisting that the agency had bent over backward to recover Lerner’s emails, but “confirmed that backup tapes from 2011 no longer existed because they have been recycled, pursuant to the IRS normal policy.”

Not only would that have violated standard government records policy, according to testimony from the head of the National Archives, it turned out not to be true.

In light of all this, it’s alarming that after extracting the Lerner emails from the recovered files, the IG plans to send them to the IRS for redactions of confidential information. That would be the definition of allowing the fox to guard the henhouse.

It’s good news that the American public might finally get some answers in this investigation.

But it’s another dismaying example of how the administration that promised to be the “most transparent in history” has routinely misled, delayed and obfuscated in an effort to make its actions look better, especially before an election.

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December 12, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 581

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Obama Justice Department Was Involved In IRS Targeting, Lerner Emails Reveal, by Robert W. Wood:

Sadly, the 18 month investigation into the IRS targeting of conservative groups isn’t over, and it may be worse than anyone thought. A federal judge has broken loose more emails that the DOJ had surely hoped would never surface. The picture it reveals isn’t pretty. The documents prove that Lois Lerner met with DOJ’s Election Crimes Division a month before the 2010 elections.

It has to be embarrassing to the DOJ, which may not be the most impartial one to be investigating the IRS. In fact, the DOJ withheld over 800 pages of Lerner documents citing “taxpayer privacy” and “deliberative privilege.” Yet these internal DOJ documents show Ms. Lerner was talking to DOJ officials about prosecuting tax-exempt entities (yes, criminally!) two years before the IRS conceded there was inappropriate targeting. ...

[I]t is getting harder and harder to simply accept President Obama’s ‘no smidgen of corruption’ remark made to Fox News in February, no matter how sincere and forthright his delivery.

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December 11, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 580

IRS Logo 2Judicial Watch:  Judicial Watch Lawsuit Forces Release of DOJ Emails Showing IRS’s Lois Lerner Met with DOJ Officials Just Before 2010 Elections:

Judicial Watch today released internal Department of Justice (DOJ) documents revealing that former IRS official Lois Lerner had been in contact with DOJ officials about the possible criminal prosecution of tax-exempt entities two full years before what the IRS conceded was its “absolutely inappropriate” 2012 targeting of the organizations. According to the newly obtained documents, Lerner met with top Obama DOJ Election Crimes Branch officials as early as October 2010. ...

“These new documents dramatically show how the Justice Department is up to its neck in the IRS scandal and can’t be trusted to investigate crimes associated with the IRS abuses that targeted Obama’s critics.  And it is of particular concern that the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section, which would ordinarily investigate the IRS abuses, is now implicated in the IRS crimes.  No wonder the Department of Justice under Eric Holder has done no serious investigation of the Obama IRS scandal,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “It is shameful how Establishment Washington has let slide by Obama’s abuse of the IRS and the Justice Department.  Only as a result of Judicial Watch’s independent investigations did the American people learn about the IRS-DOJ prosecution discussions of Obama’s political enemies and how the IRS sent, in violation of law, confidential taxpayer information to the FBI and DOJ in 2010.  Richard Nixon was impeached for less.”

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December 10, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 579

Horrible BossesForbes:  Horrible Bosses, IRS Edition, by Robert W. Wood:

People joked about horrible bosses long before Horrible BossesHorrible Bosses 2, and The Office. I’m guessing that at least some employees over at the IRS may not be too impressed with their own leadership. I mean big issues, not relatively harmless but kitschy things like Star Trek, Gilligan’s Island or line dancing videos. Perhaps there may have been some mistakes from regular employees, but the bosses surely have the most explaining to do.

The news that the lost or destroyed Lois Lerner emails were actually not lost or destroyed, for one. Remember, when the IRS brass said they looked really hard, and spent $10 million (of taxpayer money!) trying to find those emails? After a year of investigation, they belatedly said they were lost, hard drives were recycled, etc. Anyhow, now they will be sorted, cataloged and released, which is good.

Some people are upset that money is being spent on a ‘witch hunt’ that reveals not even a smidgen of corruption. Others aren’t so sure. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has confirmed that, on top of the backed-up email horde, there are also nearly 2,500 documents relating to investigations of the improper disclosure of confidential taxpayer information by the IRS to the White House. ...

Lois Lerner–the former IRS official at the heart of Tea Party targeting–supposedly didn’t even direct them, though she remains silent. She was held in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify, but hasn’t been prosecuted. Yet after her long silence, in an exclusive interview with Politico she said did nothing wrong and considers herself the victim.She bristled at any suggestion she had anything to do with destroying emails, switching to texts, or letting her own political views influence her treatment of Tea Party “a__holes.”

In the midst of all this, many Americans could use a little reassurance on key points:

  • We Want To Be Dealt With Fairly ...
  • We Don’t Want Others To Get Away with Anything ...
  • We Want Our Private Information Kept Private ...
  • We Want IRS Employees To Be Policed ...
  • We Don’t Want More Complex Tax Laws ...

Since the IRS is made up of humans, sometimes the IRS is unreasonable or wrong. Richard Nixon supposedly asked the IRS to audit his political enemies. There has been no proof yet that President Obama tried to influence the IRS in the Tea Party targeting scandal. But it’s not unreasonable to want to get to the bottom of it once and for all. ...

The IRS has a very hard job to do, and in general, does it well and fairly. But that is precisely why this is so important. We need fairness and faith in the tax system restored. We shouldn’t need a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to get it.

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December 9, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Monday, December 8, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 578

IRS Logo 2Roll Call:  Fresh Round of Controversies for IRS:

The IRS faces growing pressure from critics on both sides of the aisle to come to grips with the role that tax-exempt “dark money” groups play in elections.

The challenge for the beleaguered IRS, which is bracing for a fresh round of controversies early in 2015, is that Republicans and Democrats regard both the problem and the solution in starkly opposing terms.

To Republicans, the problem is that the IRS has policed tax-exempt groups, particularly those run by conservative activists, too aggressively. Republicans on Capitol Hill are poised to redouble their investigation into the agency’s self-admitted targeting of tea party groups and others seeking tax-exempt status.

The GOP probe has been newly energized by a Treasury inspector general’s recent unearthing of thousands of emails previously declared “lost” from former senior IRS official Lois Lerner’s account. Also fueling the investigation is the GOP’s Senate takeover, and a conservative group’s recent lawsuit alleging the agency improperly shared taxpayer information with the White House.

To Democrats, the problem is that undisclosed political spending, popularly dubbed “dark money,” continues to soar. According to the latest estimate from the Center for Responsive Politics, political spending by outside groups that fail to publicly disclose some or all of their donors jumped to at least $219 million in this election cycle, up from $160.8 million in the 2010 midterms.

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December 8, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 577

IRS Logo 2Town Hall:  IRS Scandals Update:, by Daniel J. Mitchell (Cato Institute):

I generally don’t feel a special degree of animosity for the internal revenue service. After all, it’s the politicians who have created the 74,000-plus page monstrosity of a tax code. Blaming the IRS for enforcing that system is like blaming the police for the drug war.

This isn’t to say the IRS is blameless. Just as cops sometimes take misguided laws and enforce them is bad ways, the IRS periodically will go beyond its legal mandate because of an enforcement-über-alles mentality.

But what gets me most upset is when the IRS allows itself – either with glee or reluctance – to become politicized. ...

For instance, the Washington Times reveals that the IRS may have violated taxpayer privacy by giving confidential taxpayer data to the political operatives in the White House. ...

One possible example deals with the Obama Administration’s attack on the Koch brothers. As the Washington Examiner reported, Obama’s top economist at the time was the subject of an investigation. ...

It’s worth noting, by the way, that this isn’t the first White House to get in trouble for using the IRS as a political weapon.

Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Commission’s criminal code, which Congress enacted following revelations of President Nixon’s abuse of private tax information during the Watergate scandal. The second article of impeachment against Nixon in the House Judiciary Committee was based on those abuses.

So the ghost of Richard Nixon may approve of Obama, as suggested by this cartoon.

But this isn’t the only IRS scandal we need to monitor. Remember Lois Lerner, who became infamous for targeting the President’s opponents and then apparently losing her emails? Well, we have an update. The Wall Street Journal opines on the latest development in the IRS targeting scandal. ... One can’t help but wonder whether the delay in finding the emails and now the delay in turning them over to investigators is simply to allow time for smoking guns to be hidden. ...

Let’s close with a good cartoon about the IRS. By the way, if you enjoy anti-IRS cartoons, click here, here, and here for more examples. ...

P.P.S. I don’t want to end on a sour note, so here’s more examples of IRS humor from my archives, including a new Obama 1040 form, a death tax cartoon, a list of tax day tips from David Letterman, a cartoon of how GPS would work if operated by the IRS, an IRS-designed pencil sharpener, two Obamacare/IRS cartoons (here and here), a sale on 1040-form toilet paper (a real product), a song about the tax agency, the IRS’s version of the quadratic formula, and (my favorite) a joke about a Rabbi and an IRS agent.

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December 7, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 576

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Recovered IRS Emails Can't Be Revealed Because Of Privacy...That Was Already Breached, by Robert W. Wood:

For over 18 months, we’ve been wondering about those ‘lost’ IRS emails. Would they surface and if so, what they would show? Targeting? Profanity? Nothing? It was a whole year into the Congressional investigation before the IRS first said they were ‘lost,’ a bizarrely belated “oh by the way….”

Think you could file your tax return a year late next year? Would the IRS show some compassion? Unlikely. Yet it turns out those lost, destroyed, found, and now warehoused emails still can’t be reviewed by the media or anyone else. Why? Because they contain confidential taxpayer information, that’s why.

So says the IRS watchdog known as TIGTA, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. The Inspector General has done great works this year and often pokes at the IRS behemoth to improve it. But the Inspector General is in a tough spot over this privacy issue.

We thought the news that the lost or destroyed Lois Lerner emails were actually not lost or destroyed meant we would get to the bottom of this once and for all. How else could we see if the President’s supporters are right? They say this is a ‘witch hunt’ that reveals not even a smidgen of corruption, a phrase Mr. Obama himself repeated to Fox News in February. But once again, we’re in the dark. Talk about a Catch-22. ...

A judge finally ruled that the IRS must turn over any relevant documents to Cause of Action. But that puts in Inspector General back in the hot seat. TIGTA admits it has thousands of pages of responsive documents. However, TIGTA says it can’t release them because they contain confidential taxpayer information. That sure sounds telling already, even if we can’t see them!

After all, why would communications between the IRS and the White House contain taxpayer information? A key question is whether any officials at the White House ever asked anyone at the IRS to transmit private taxpayer information to the White House in violation of law. Moreover, regardless of whether the White House asked for any taxpayer information, did the IRS ever transmit any?

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December 6, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Friday, December 5, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 575

The Hill, Watchdog: IRS Withholding Documents on Taxpayer Data Requests:

A watchdog group says the IRS is withholding documents between the agency and the White House that show inappropriate requests for taxpayer data, according to multiple reports.

The Treasury inspector general for tax administration has told the group that there are more than 2,000 documents potentially related to the request.

A court has said the agency must hand over the documents. But IRS officials have said that they will not release the documents, citing a part of the tax code that protects the confidentiality of individual tax returns.

It is not clear what is contained in the documents, but Cause of Action said they might be evidence of White House misdeeds.

“That indicates scandal,” said Daniel Epstein, a spokesman for the group. "Now, potentially, there's confidential tax information going from the IRS to the White House. Potentially — we don't know, we'd like to see," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who has been a critic of the IRS under the Obama administration, said late Wednesday on Fox News.

The White House denied any wrongdoing to Fox News. “I can tell you that, as a rule, that the Obama administration has been very rigorous in following all of the rules and regulations that govern proper communication between Treasury officials and White House officials and the Internal Revenue Service,” press secretary Josh Earnest told the outlet.

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December 5, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 574

IRS Logo 2Washington Free Beacon:  Treasury IG Blocking Release of Records on Leaks of Taxpayer Info to White House:

An IRS watchdog is refusing to release thousands of documents related to unauthorized leaks of confidential taxpayer information to the White House, citing privacy concerns.

In a letter to watchdog group Cause of Action on Tuesday, an attorney with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) said the office had located “2,509 pages of documents potentially responsive to your request.” However, TIGTA said it barred by law from releasing them.

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December 4, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (6)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 573

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 572

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  Are Criminals Outsmarting The IRS?, by Robert W. Wood:

With the IRS scandals of the last 18 months, it might seem that we have lost control of our tax system. The IRS is an essential part of our government, which can’t run without taxes. So having it fairly and efficiently run is pretty important. More than 18 months ago, an angry President Obama sacked the IRS Chief, Steven Miller. That was inevitable after the story broke that Tea Party and other conservative groups were targeted for extra scrutiny. The cover-up was worse than the crime, especially for an agency that must rely on taxpayers self-assessing their taxes.

More than 18 months ago, Mr. Obama said (in this transcript) that the IRS needed new leadership while it faced a broad probe of its conduct. The President promised full cooperation with congressional investigations. For new leadership “that can help restore confidence,” President Obama picked John Koskinen as next Commissioner. He came to office having no tax knowledge and no tax experience, but was an avowed turnaround specialist.

Whatever Mr. Koskinen’s skills, the agency hasn’t yet come back to smooth sailing. With alleged targeting, bonus controversies, systemic lien and collection errors and more, the agency looks incompetent to many outsiders. Whatever one’s political views, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. The different stories surrounding the lost or destroyed Lois Lerner emails alone do not leave everyone as certain as the President that there is not a smidgen of corruption.Perhaps the President will be proven right–I hope so.

But it still is no way to run a railroad. Taxpayers deserve better, and so do the thousands of IRS honest and hard working IRS employees. The 18 months of dissembling started when a comparatively unknown Lois Lerner was speaking at a bar association meeting May 10, 2013. She planted a question in the audience so she could get out ahead of the TIGTA report documenting IRS targeting. It may have been well-intentioned but came off as duplicitous. 18 months later, we’re still waiting for the final word, though now we are told that 2,500 previously undisclosed documents may link to the White House.

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December 2, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, December 1, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 571

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December 1, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 570

IRS Logo 2Breitbart:  Obama: Not Legitimate for Future Presidents to Lower Taxes via Executive Action:

After unilaterally granting temporary amnesty and work permits to millions of illegal immigrants last week, President Barack Obama said it would not be legitimate for a future president to unilaterally lower tax rates. 

When asked on ABC's This Week if his successor could unilaterally act to lower taxes if Congress does not, Obama replied, "absolutely not."

Obama, despite the IRS's targeting of conservative and Tea Party organizations, also said that his administration only audits "folks who are most likely to be cheating" and said that even though the IRS does not "audit every single person... we still expect that people are going to go ahead and follow the law."

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November 30, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Saturday, November 29, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 569

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  In 'Lost' Trove Of IRS Emails, 2,500 May Link White House To Confidential Taxpayer Data, by Robert W. Wood:

The recent news that the lost or destroyed Lois Lerner emails were actually not lost or destroyed surprised some people. That they will now be sorted, cataloged and released provokes mixed reactions. It has some Republicans upset that more wasn’t done and more transparently. It has some Democrats upset that more money is being spent on what some see as a witch hunt that reveals not even a smidgen of corruption. Despite the 18 months of dissembling about who did what and when, the latter reaction may be premature.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has confirmed that, on top of the backed-up email horde, there are also nearly 2,500 documents relating to investigations of the improper disclosure of confidential taxpayer information by the IRS to the White House. Yes, the White House.

Why should the White House be getting confidential taxpayer information? That is a good question. If the facts show such data was transmitted, even under the most charitable interpretation, you would think every American would want to know what happened.

The Inspector General for Tax Administration has seemed to be a white knight in the sometimes tawdry (and often inflammatory) email and targeting scandal that has roiled the IRS over 18 months. Yet on this particular issue, the Inspector General is being questioned too. An advocacy group called Cause of Action sued the Inspector General under the Freedom of Information Act for information about communications between the White House and the IRS.

Eventually, the court ordered that office to reveal whether the documents existed. Finally, the Obama administration has agreed to release the documents. A key question is whether any officials at the White House have ever asked anyone over at the IRS to transmit private taxpayer information to the White House in violation of law. Another question, regardless of whether the White House asked for any taxpayer information, is whether the IRS ever transmitted any.

With talk of targeting for more than 18 months, those of fair questions. The Obama administration consistently resisted responding, but has finally had to relent. In an email to Cause of Action, the Department of Justice has proposed deadlines for turning over documents next month. The DOJ states that it anticipates delivering some of the documents December 1st, and the remainder by December 15th.

The data may seem unimportant, and hopefully it will turn out to be. Still, the privacy protections for taxpayer data held by the IRS are among the most sensitive parts of the tax law. That makes any alleged transgressions of these rules serious. It makes this topic arguably the worst part of the IRS scandal so far.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court in a decision reaching back to 1819, the power to tax includes the power to destroy. The current administration’s pooh-poohing, including its ‘no smidgen of corruption’ remark to Fox News in February, does little to help. We have been feted to multiple mixed explanations of what happened, to multiple participants who may or may not have said or done something, to multiple refusals by one of the key players to testify. Such shifting sands leave us wondering.

The defiance and hubris from at least some at the IRS itself has been as disturbing. It has hardly seemed to be the kind of “we’re here to serve” attitude one might reasonably have expected. Some are even wondering about that whole separation of powers thing we learned about in civics or history class. American taxpayers should want to know what happened.

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November 29, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, November 28, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 568

IRS Logo 2Wall Street Journal:  ‘Lost’ IRS Emails Found: An Investigator Locates What the Tax Agency Claimed Had Vanished:

The Democrats’ midterm shellacking was in part a referendum on competence, which leads, naturally, to the all but unreported news that the IRS never “lost” emails after all. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is pulling off the impossible task of destroying what little credibility that bureaucracy has left.

Treasury Department Inspector General Russell George recently informed Congress that his forensic investigation has turned up as many as 30,000 emails from the account of former IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner—emails the IRS has insisted were destroyed. The emails cover the crucial period from January 2009 through June 2011 when the IRS was ramping up its targeting of conservative nonprofits.

Mr. Koskinen—hired nearly a year ago to clean up the IRS—has been at the center of that delay. In June the IRS buried in a letter to the Senate Finance Committee the bombshell news that nearly two years of Lerner emails were missing because her hard drive had crashed. This malfunction conveniently happened about 10 days after Congress alerted the IRS that it was looking into claims the agency was harassing conservative groups.

It later emerged that Mr. Koskinen had known about these missing emails in April—but hadn’t told Congress. He informed Congress only after a court case revealed the Lerner email record was incomplete.

Mr. Koskinen claimed in June that his agency had done everything humanly possible to recover the pesky documents. ... We can only imagine Mr. Koskinen’s shock in September when the Treasury IG said it had found 760 tapes that might hold Lerner emails. Or his further surprise when it took only a few weeks to identify and extract the specific Lerner documents—out of 250 million backup emails.

And we can only imagine Mr. Koskinen’s apology for his agency’s email failure—since he hasn’t given one. In response to the emails’ miraculous reappearance, the IRS explained: “The IRS welcomes TIGTA’s independent review and expert forensic analysis. Commissioner Koskinen has said for some time he would be pleased if additional Lois Lerner emails from this time frame could be found.”

This is an extraordinary statement, in that it suggests the only way an agency can be held accountable for producing subpoenaed documents is if an outsider tosses the joint. Either the IRS didn’t bother to investigate these tapes or, more alarming, it did and chose not to produce the results.

The IG is turning over the emails to the IRS, which is supposed to redact sensitive tax information before sending them to Congress. Mr. Koskinen needs to end the IRS stonewalling and turn the records over with dispatch without covering up incriminating evidence.

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November 28, 2014 in IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)