Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The IRS Scandal, Day 257

USA TodayUSA Today op-ed:  Government Conspiracy Theories Aren't Crazy, by Glenn Harlan Reynolds (Tennessee):

At a tax symposium at Pepperdine Law School last week, former IRS chief counsel Donald Korb was asked, "On a scale of 1-10 ... how damaging is the current IRS scandal?"

His answer: 9.5. Other tax experts on the panel called it "awful," and said that it has done "tremendous damage."

I think that's right. And I think that the damage extends well beyond the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, I think that the government agency suffering the most damage isn't the IRS, but the National Security Agency. Because the NSA, even more than the IRS, depends on public trust. And now that the IRS has been revealed to be a political weapon, it's much harder for people to have faith in the NSA.

As I warned President Obama back in 2009 after he "joked" about having his enemies audited, the IRS depends on trust. ...

Since then, of course, the new "weaponized IRS" has, in fact, come to be seen as illegitimate by many more Americans. I suspect that, over time, this loss of moral legitimacy will cause many to base their tax strategies on what they think they can get away with, not on what they're entitled to. And when they hear of someone being audited, many Americans will ask not "what did he do wrong?" but "who in government did he offend?"

This is particularly true since the Obama administration is currently changing IRS rules to muzzle Tea Partiers.  As Kimberley Strassel reports in the Wall Street Journal, Obama's negotiating strategy on the omnibus spending bill that just passed revolved around using the IRS to keep Tea Party groups silenced. ...

Meanwhile, the person chosen to "investigate" the IRS's targeting of Tea Party groups in 2010-2012 is Barbara Bosserman, a "long-time Obama campaign donor."  So the IRS's credibility is in no danger of being rebuilt any time soon. ...

The problem with government is that to be trusted, you have to be trustworthy. And the problem with the Obama administration is that, to a greater extent than any since Nixon's, it is not. Do not be surprised if the result is that people mistrust those in authority, and order their lives accordingly. Such an outcome is bad for America, but bad governance has its consequences.

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink


The problem is BO appointed a Commissioner who has no tax experience and is nothing more than a politician. How can you trust an organization when the top of the organization does not have any knowledge, has never worked in the IRS, doesn't know what to ask, etc and is completely incompetent when it comes to tax law and procedures.....When the Indians have more knowledge than the chief it time to get rid of the chief....

Posted by: Sid | Jan 21, 2014 4:35:07 PM

> Such an outcome is bad for America, but bad governance has its consequences.

The problem is that there are no bad consequences for the governors.

Posted by: Andy Freeman | Jan 21, 2014 10:13:36 AM