Paul L. Caron
Dean


Friday, September 25, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 869

IRS Logo 2The Hill:  The IRS's Abuse of Power, by Tom Schatz (President, Citizens Against Government Waste):

During the reign of King George III, Britain's American colonists felt the heavy burden of a monarch imposing his will to levy heavy taxes without representation, overregulate businesses and trample upon basic freedoms. In order to overcome these oppressive bonds, the 13 Colonies banded together to declare their independence from tyranny.

President Obama does not have the same level of power as King George, but he is using every tool at his disposal to emulate the king and restrict the freedom of Americans as they pursue their daily lives and conduct their business. In other words, when Obama famously said in January 2014 that he had a pen and a phone to get things done with or without Congress, he was not joking. His administration has taken unprecedented steps to issue regulations and rulings without going through normal administrative procedures, such as issuing "sub-regulatory guidance" and circumventing Congress whenever possible.

A prime example of this kind of abuse of power was the hiring of outside counsel by the Internal Revenue Service to conduct interviews and assist in an audit of Microsoft on May 19, 2014. In a May 13, 2015 press release regarding his letter to the IRS about this matter, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), questioned the legality of such an action because it "1) appears to violate federal law and the express will of the Congress; 2) removes taxpayer protections by allowing the performance of inherently governmental functions by private contractors; and 3) calls into question the IRS's use of its limited resources."

This extraordinary episode should be troubling for all taxpayers. On top of the waste of tax dollars, the hiring of outside litigators at Obama's IRS is the latest overreach by the administration and the same agency that spawned Lois Lerner, the former director of the Exempt Organizations unit.

While there is no excuse or justification for this action by the IRS and no one should be subject to such an misuse of the taxpayers' money, a large company can battle to maintain its rights under the law (albeit at the expense of conducting its ordinary business). It is bad enough when IRS auditors and bean counters come knocking at someone's door, but there is no way that a small business or individual taxpayer could withstand a grilling by high-powered and highly paid litigators. Congress was not around to stop King George, but it can and should stop the Obama administration's ongoing abuses of power.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2015/09/the-irs-scandal-day-869.html

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