Paul L. Caron

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 992

IRS Logo 2Forbes:  IRS Lax Controls Enable Targeting Based On Religion + Politics, Claims Report, by Robert W. Wood:

Everyone seems to agree that you should not be audited based on your religion or political beliefs, nor based on which charities you support. Yet there are still questions about how our tax system measures up. Despite all the protestations that there was never any IRS targeting (even some that Republicans made it up), the weak response to the last two years remains disquieting. There seemed to be bonuses and rewards, not discipline or prosecution.

Now, a new government report says lax IRS controls of audit criteria mean the agency is still able to target based on religious and political views. This time, it is a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, stating that: “The control deficiencies increase the risk of selecting organizations for audit in an unfair manner — for example, based on an organization’s religious, educational, political, or other views.” Precisely how much such inappropriate criteria are being used is being debated, as the IRS scandal reaches day 982Some Republicans have assumed the worst, while naysayers claim there is still no scandal and still no targeting. ...

The GAO identified what it calls control deficiencies within the IRS system. These flaws open the system to risk that the IRS uses political and religious beliefs as selection criteria for audit. There was already concern about tax exempt organizations, and it could extend to who gets audited too. The GAO concluded that the lack of strong control procedures increases the risk of targeting. The IRS, however, responded in a statement that ... The IRS stresses that audits of tax returns are based on the information contained on the taxpayer’s return and the underlying tax law – nothing else. Politics play no factor in audit selection. ...

This seems to echo The Daily Show appearance by President Obama when he denied any targeting. At the very least, some of the denials have been dissembling. If there was any targeting, we heard, it was rogue IRS employees in Cincinnati. Besides, emails showed there was no directive about targeting. The emails are missing? Hard drives crash and must be quickly recycled. There’s no smidgen of corruption. Cash bonuses? Unrelated.

And the top of the IRS has remained elusive, despite calls to impeach the IRS Chief from Republicans. ...

The IRS is one of most important agencies there is. Our tax system still runs primarily by self-assessment, and taxpayer faith in the system is key. The vast majority of its employees are fair and doing their best. But the agency needs real accountable leadership to get the government’s work done.

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink


This may be true. IRS' systems, from its computers to its file cabinets, are sadly out of date and have been for more than 35 years. But as I remarked earlier, cutting the IRS budget will not help. At all.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jan 26, 2016 5:49:05 PM

Publius, the article doesn't speak of equipment but rather procedures which can be abused by humans. Much like the tax system relies on the good faith of the taxpayers, it also runs on the good faith of IRS employees, who are just humans and prone to all the failing as other humans. Power without accountability is a siren's call for abuse of power, especially when you throw in malicious political intent.

Posted by: wodun | Jan 26, 2016 10:10:10 PM

Mr. wodun: Cutting the IRS budget will not help. At all.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jan 27, 2016 11:21:00 AM

Publius Nauseous: leaving the IRS alone will not help at all.

Posted by: teapartydoc | Jan 28, 2016 3:41:24 AM

Mr. teapartydoc: I did not suggest that the IRS should be left alone. It needs some serious work and has needed it for several decades. But cutting the IRS budget–the conservative panacea–will not help. As for your stomach ailment, your handle suggests an affinity for medicine. Accordingly, “cura te ipsum!” Luke 4:23.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Jan 28, 2016 9:13:53 AM