TaxProf Blog

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 798

IRS Logo 2Washington Examiner, With New Documents, Stench of IRS Scandal Reaches Into its Third Year:

In 2013, Lois Lerner, former head of the IRS non-profit section, pleaded the Fifth Amendment before the House Oversight Committee. She had been called to testify about her division's unjustifiable harassment of conservative applicants for nonprofit status.

Just over a year later, it was reported that a number of Lerner's work emails had gone missing due to a supposed problem with her hard drive. Then last month, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration testified that IRS employees — despite being under explicit orders not to destroy records — had "magnetically erased" as many as 24,000 of Lerner's missing emails from hundreds of data tapes where they were being stored.

Whether the emails' disappearance was innocent or not, the public is only now beginning to get more information about just what it concealed, thanks to an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the IRS by the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch. Documents unearthed this week show that in Fall 2010, Lerner was working to get the Justice Department to prosecute nonprofits that engaged in political activity. This despite the fact that 501(c)4 groups, which cannot take tax-deductible donations, are permitted to engage in some political advocacy by law and by Civil Rights-era court precedents. ...

The original IRS scandal hinted at an intensive but narrow effort within one division to punish or at least make life difficult for the Obama administration's political opponents — the sort of thing that could perhaps be chalked up to a few bad actors. But the new documents suggest there were at least attempts to bring other agencies in on the wrongdoing. ...

This scandal continues to stink at least as badly as it did when IRS targeting of conservative non-profits was first acknowledged. This isn't a partisan political issue — unfair tax enforcement is unfair to everyone, and anyone can become a victim. Moreover, federal tax privacy laws exist because tax information is so sensitive and susceptible to abuse by politicians and ideologically interested parties.

Congress is right not to let go of this bureaucratic malfeasance, and to continue investigating what could prove to be a with a broader scope than anyone anticipated.

Daily Caller, Bozell On IRS Scandal: ‘A Tyrannical Administration Using Stalinist Tactics Against Its Political Opponents’:

The president of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell, came out swinging Thursday in response to the revelations — uncovered by the watchdog Judicial Watch — that Lois Lerner, other officials from the IRS, the Department of Justice, and the FBI met in 2010 to discuss criminally prosecuting non-profit organizations targeted for illegal political activities.

Bozell was incensed that few media outlets bothered to cover the news. “The networks’ refusal to cover these devastating revelations borders on being complicit in a cover-up of criminal misconduct by a tyrannical administration using Stalinist tactics against its political opponents,” the conservative figure declared in a statement.

In Bozell’s opinion, the meeting revealed “criminal coordination between the IRS, FBI and the Department of Justice in an effort to politically persecute innocent, law-abiding Americans and independent organizations.”

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/07/the-irs-scandal-day-798.html

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Comments

The JW "revelations" of last week are well over a year old. Do these right-wing publications live under rocks all the time?

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jul 16, 2015 6:53:31 AM

And right on cue, "Publius Novus" shows up to defend criminal scum like Lois Lerner and John Koskinen. Why is it, "Publius" you believe America should be a fascist dictatorship where the most core principle of democracy - the Rule of Law - does not exist? (I'm not holding my breath for an honest answer from a hate-filled partisan of the Democratic Party...)

Posted by: Andrew Russell | Jul 16, 2015 8:34:20 AM

"This despite the fact that 501(c)4 groups, which cannot take tax-deductible donations, are permitted to engage in some political advocacy by law and by Civil Rights-era court precedents. ..."

This bears repeating because Democrats, like Publius, repeatedly say their victims were law breakers when in fact they were not.

Democrat nonprofits have engaged in politics for generations. There are hundred or thousands of these Democrat activist groups in every city in the country. It was only when non-Democrats tried to use the same rights and privileges that Democrats enjoy when this type of activity was deemed worthy of persecution by the federal government. But the targets are one sided. No Democrat activist groups have been treated this way even as they riot in the street in the name of politics.

Posted by: wodun | Jul 16, 2015 11:05:36 AM

Publius is right though, it has been known for while now that the IRS was colluding with the DOJ and FBI to round up dissidents and throw them in jail.

But considering the persecution program is ongoing and the administration is obstructing justice and lying to congress, the facts of this case bear repeating.

Posted by: wodun | Jul 16, 2015 11:07:49 AM

If all of these organizations are acting within the law (which I personally doubt), why are they so concerned about criminal prosecution? They would have much more ammunition if they were prosecuted and found "not guilty". The true answer is that they want to be able to violate the law.

Posted by: gator | Jul 17, 2015 5:42:43 AM

Mr. Russell: Here's your honest answer. I do not believe "America should be a fascist dictatorship where the most core principle of democracy - the Rule of Law - does not exist." Nor am I hate-filled. Nor do I hate anyone God has made. Including, without exception, Republicans, right-wingers, libertarians, neo-cons, communists, etc. Actually, I believe such individuals are more to be pitied.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jul 17, 2015 6:58:22 AM