TaxProf Blog

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

Thursday, September 1, 2016

The IRS Scandal, Day 1211

IRS Logo 2Forbes: More Than 100 Law Professors To Congress: Impeaching The IRS Commissioner Is A Bad Idea, by Kelly Phillips Erb:

More than 100 tax law professors have sent a letter to House leaders in opposition to a resolution to impeach or censure Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner John Koskinen.

The letter was addressed to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI); House Ways and Means Committee Chair Kevin Brady (R-TX); Minority Leader of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); and House Ways and Means Committee Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI). The letter urged those Congressional leaders to “oppose any resolution to impeach or censure John Koskinen, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.” ...

Censure is, of course, not as drastic as impeachment: it’s a public condemnation and requires a simple majority vote in the House and no action in the Senate. Impeaching an official requires a vote in the full House and, after a formal trial, a 2/3 vote of the Senate to remove the official from office. If that sounds like a high bar, it is: no agency official has been impeached in more than 140 years.

Tax Update Blog:  Profs For Koskinen, by Joe Kristan:

I favor censure because it’s clear that Koskinen has been, if you want to be charitable, tone-deaf to the implications of the IRS targeting of political opposition. He repeatedly has made statements on the investigation that have proven untrue, meaning he is either inept or a liar.

I oppose impeachment because it is a waste of time. The Senate would never convict.

I don’t like the letter because it completely ignores how Koskinen has completely lost the confidence of GOP Congressional appropriators. Nothing he has done provides them any reassurance that funding the IRS doesn’t mean funding their own opposition. If they really are concerned about the institutional integrity of the IRS, the professors should also call on Koskinen to resign in favor of somebody who can merit the respect of both parties.

https://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2016/09/the-irs-scandal-day-1211.html

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Comments

Kristan's 100% correct. But Koskinen will never resign, and the President will never fire him. The precedent's been set by the administration, time and again. Executive branch officials are only canned if they run afoul of the President, like the late Gerald Walpin, not if they're publically dishonest or violate federal law, like Mr. Holder, Mr. Castro, Mr. Rhodes, etc.

Posted by: MM | Sep 1, 2016 7:04:18 AM

Mr. Kristan writes that if the 123 tax profs were really “concerned about the institutional integrity of the IRS, the professors should also call on Koskinen to resign in favor of somebody who can merit the respect of both parties.” And exactly who would satisfy both parties? The current Republican Platform calls for the abolition of the IRS (p. 27). Why would any establishment Republican senator, or non-establishment types such as Sens. Cruz or Lee, confirm any commissioner who does not intend to abolish the agency? With a platform position calling for the abolition of the revenue agency, there is no room at all for bi-partisan agreement on a new commissioner.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Sep 1, 2016 1:02:18 PM

Update: Today's (9.3.16) TaxProf Blog digest on the "scandal" includes Commissioner's Koskinen's letter to Sens. Hatch and Wyden clarifying the IRS's "suspension" of the use of BOLO lists, etc. as case selection tools. According to the letter, the suspension is permanent, has been incorporated into the IRM, and has been published to IRS personnel through training. In addition, the letter also explains that the three remaining 501(c)(4) cases are not being processed because of a longstanding policy of not processing cases in which the parties are engaged in litigation. Koskinen's letter states that the IRS is consulting with DOJ--under whose jurisdiction such cases fall--to resolve the cases administratively as an exception to the general policy. Now of course none of the right-wingers will accept the Commissioner's written assurances; they want his head on a silver platter (bring me the [Commissioner's] head on a silver platter, said Salome).

Posted by: Publius Novus | Sep 3, 2016 8:01:52 AM

If he's made false statements before, why should anyone take Koskinen's assurances at face value?

Shouldn't TIGTA pay the IRS a visit every year while he's still head of the agency?

Or better yet, shouldn't a Special Prosecutor be apppointed to turn the agency upside down and check every action taken and statement made on the matter?

Dishonest people who've never been elected yet wield immense power shouldn't be implicitly deferred to or trusted. Nor should an agency with a long pattern of behavior of malfeasance. And if that makes me a right-winger, so be it...

Posted by: MM | Sep 3, 2016 9:28:18 AM