Paul L. Caron

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1074

IRS Logo 2Investor's Business Daily editorial, Storming The IRS Gates: An Occupy Movement Worth Supporting:

A federal judge says the IRS can’t be trusted. Well, he’s right. So when will people in this country finally rise up and force Washington to get rid of this awful agency?

Because a holiday called Emancipation Day was celebrated Friday in the capital district, Americans have a few extra days to file their taxes this year. But the IRS remains, as does its institutionalized abuse of taxpayers. There is no emancipation from the torment of taxation, nor the agents of its collection, on the horizon.

Americans need relief, however. Taxes eat away at our substance, and the IRS makes this all the more intolerable because it decided long ago to be a wedge of enmity between a growing federal government and an ostensibly free people. This strained relationship has deteriorated to the point that the IRS targeted for persecution groups and individuals that it doesn’t like. Organizations that identified as Tea Party and conservative were harassed to the point that some of the victims decided to sue.

It’s hard to be upbeat on April 15, even when tax filing day is delayed. Yet there is a scintilla of hope to be found when a federal official rightly characterizes the IRS as an institution whose word is of little value.

“It’s hard to find the IRS to be an agency we can trust,” Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, said Thursday during oral arguments in one of the lawsuits filed against the tax collector in the targeting scandal.

The Washington Times reported that during the hearing Sentelle “said there is strong evidence that the IRS violated the constitutional rights of the groups when it delayed their nonprofit status applications and asked inappropriate questions about their political beliefs.”

What’s more, there’s good reason to think that the mistreatment of Tea Party and right-of-center groups has never stopped.

This should deeply concern us all, even those who aren’t Tea Party supporters. The IRS is not a political arm of the government that’s free to be used to suppress to dissenters. It is merely a tax collector.

IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink


Mr. Lopler: I'll bet your favorite economics text was written by a moral philosopher 240 years ago. Or maybe by a novelist-cum-social security recipient.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Apr 19, 2016 8:58:57 AM

Publius Novus: Optimal in your sense is just how much can the government take without people working so much less the government actually takes in less. Maximizing revenue seems like a pretty bad goal for a government.
Wodun mentioned "economics texts", not hyper partisan law professor texts. There is a big difference.

Posted by: J Lopler | Apr 18, 2016 8:04:43 AM

Actually, Mr. wodun, you are correct that there are lots of economics texts that argue “[t]here is some level of taxation which is neither punitive nor harmful.” (But then, a stopped clock is right twice each day.) In fact, most mainstream economics texts do conclude that there is an optimal level of taxation. One of the best expositions of the optimal levels of taxation in a modern more-or-less free-market democracy is Edward Kleinbard’s “We Are Better Than This.” If you were to read this highly-readable book, I am sure you would be surprised at how high the optimal level is, as well as the fact that current levels of U.S. taxation are well below the optimal levels for a well-functioning capitalist-mixed economy. Yes indeed, taxes might eat out the substance of the people at some level. But the tax rates that actually do that are very much higher that what prevail now, or have ever prevailed, in this country.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Apr 18, 2016 6:49:33 AM

Enough is enough, it is far past time we call out Democrats for weaponizing government agencies to attack their political opponents. Its bad enough they celebrate people like Che, Castro, Maduro, Stalin, Lenin, and Mao. We don't need them implementing their strategies and tactics to attack their fellow Americans.

Anyone who thinks that calling for Democrats to stop using government as a weapon isn't a serious discussion of how to improve government, has no intention of improving government and just wants tyranny.

Posted by: wodun | Apr 17, 2016 3:43:42 PM

"Taxes do not eat out the substance of the people in democracies. Taxes are what we pay for civilization."

Every dollar taken from a citizen is one that they can't spend how they want. There is some level of taxation which is neither punitive nor harmful but the more the government takes, the less people have to pursue their own interests.

Punitive taxation is harmful for a number of reasons but over taxation has drastic effects on our economy and on the populace. This is all pretty simple, there is a lot of economics texts about these trade offs.

What Democrats always fail to recognize, is that the ability for the government to collect taxes and to always increase spending, relies on the strength of the economy and the people who participate in it. Killing the golden goose doesn't mean golden eggs for everyone, it means no more golden eggs. With Sander, Democrats want to kill the goose. Under normal Democrat policies, they just want to slowly starve it until it dies.

Posted by: wodun | Apr 17, 2016 3:40:12 PM

The customary overheated verbiage we have come to expect from IBD, exceeding even that of WSJ. Taxes do not eat out the substance of the people in democracies. Taxes are what we pay for civilization. The IRS, though far from perfect, remains the one of the best tax administration agencies in the world, despite all efforts of conservatives to starve it into third-world status. Enough is enough; it is time to consign right-wing hyperbole to its proper place and return to serious discussions of how to improve our government.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Apr 17, 2016 8:11:23 AM