Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1063

IRS Logo 2 Wall Street Journal, What Does the Stonewall Cost Anyone at the IRS?:

Regarding your editorial “Chipping Away at the IRS Stonewall” (March 24): Why wouldn’t the IRS continue to stonewall? What recourse is there for the plaintiffs—or the rest of us? Can anyone at the IRS be held personally liable? If not, how does a citizenry directly punish a misbehaving federal agency? It seems to me that the IRS has nothing to lose by doing nothing, and that’s a profoundly helpless feeling.

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink


Private sector types just don’t understand government. True, the IRS has nothing to lose by doing nothing. But conversely, the IRS has nothing to win by doing nothing. And, though it seems a difficult concept to grasp for the WSJ and Mr. wodun, there is no way to “directly punish a misbehaving federal agency.” The principal reason for the latter should be, but apparently is not obvious to some. A federal agency, indeed any kind of an agency—public or private—cannot be punished because it is inanimate. It has no wants or needs, goals or objectives. If it fails, the people who rely on it or own it or profit from it suffer—not the agency itself and not its employees. And efforts to “punish” agency employees are counterproductive. Simply stated, if agency employees were liable for misfeasance, malfeasance, or nonfeasance in the form of civil damages, there would be no agency employees, because no one would risk their personal estate to work for public sector salaries. The example of former IRC 7217 is instructive. Sec. 7217 made IRS employees personally liable for “wrongful disclosures.” The section was so counterproductive to the functioning of the Service that the Reagan Administration—no friend of tax administration—got rid of it in the Administration’s 1982 Deficit Reduction Act.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Apr 7, 2016 10:12:09 AM

If Cruz wins in November, it won't be Cruz's IRS. It will be an agency acting on its own. People are policy.

Posted by: AMTbuff | Apr 7, 2016 8:09:12 AM

Wait, this isn't the IRS. It's Obama's IRS. He controls the agency. He controls their lawyers. Time to stop with the claims that the IRS is an agency acting on its own, that it's gone rogue.

Posted by: wodun | Apr 7, 2016 1:31:14 AM