Paul L. Caron

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.

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink


I wonder if the White house vetted Al Sharpton before he started counseling Obama on the state of race relations in America?

Posted by: Tim Brown | Dec 2, 2014 1:38:24 PM

Given the WH bias on many topics and shovel-ready transparancy, the 2,500 pages could be anything.

Posted by: Warren | Dec 2, 2014 9:28:55 AM

This is a little disappointing. Mr. Wood generally has been one of the more fair, accurate, and thoughtful commentators on the “IRS scandal.” His statement that “we are told that 2,500 previously undisclosed documents may link to the White House” is a little misleading. The 2,500 possible documents at issue in the Cause of Action v. TIGTA FOIA case are investigatory records generated by TIGTA in response to allegations of possible improper disclosures of tax returns and return information to the WH. Bear in mind that these are NOT tax documents that were disclosed to the WH; they are documents ABOUT possible disclosures of tax documents to the WH. The TIGTA documents may very well relate to investigations of alleged disclosures that were found not to have occurred or were lawful. Moreover, any TIGTA investigation that concluded that an unlawful disclosure had occurred should already be public record in the form of a prosecution in one or more federal district courts.

It is also important to understand that every person hired to work at the WH, and every potential presidential appointee must undergo a “tax check,” and that information is–quite properly and necessarily–reviewed by the WH personnel staff charged with vetting the appointee. “Tax check” information, by its very nature, is tax return information protected by IRC § 6103 and its disclosure to and inspection by the WH is authorized under IRC § 6103(g). Given that there are approximately 7,000 political appointees who must be vetted, one would expect at least that many disclosures of “tax check” documents to the WH.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Dec 2, 2014 7:38:15 AM