Paul L. Caron

Monday, August 28, 2017

The IRS Scandal, Day 1572: Why Did It Go Away?

IRS Logo 2Nonprofit Quarterly, Whatever Happened to the IRS Tax Exemption Scandal?:

On Friday, May 10, 2013, IRS Exempt Organizations Director Lois Lerner told a stunned audience of tax attorneys in Washington that the IRS had delayed and obstructed the tax exemption applications from conservative-sounding organizations. Later that month, the U.S. Treasury Inspector General made public a report confirming and detailing the nature of the targeting. What began as a governmental investigation had become a legal battle between nonprofits seeking what they believed to be information and resolution on the one hand and the federal government asserting claims of protecting taxpayer and employee confidentiality on the other.

As NPQ has chronicled in dozens of articles, the ensuing four years and counting since May 2013 have included several Congressional and other investigations but no criminal indictments or known personnel actions against anyone involved in the targeting. ... The U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation, but in the midst of that investigation, they announced there would be no indictments. Various Congressional committees attempted to ferret out what happened and who did it but were stymied by the IRS’s slow responses to records requests and, in some cases, destruction of computer media which might have contained important information.

The Congressional investigations rapidly became partisan, with Republicans insistent that crimes had been committed and that senior officials had to be held accountable for actions which affected hundreds of organizations and may have even affected the conduct of the 2012 elections. Democrats saw the GOP-led investigations as a partisan witch hunt targeting career IRS employees and used as a political talking point to harass President Obama specifically. Democrats also objected to the continued use of the IRS budget as a coercive tool to force IRS officials to cooperate in the investigations, and justifying decreasing funding for IRS operations by pointing to what Republicans said was obstruction. The investigations didn’t so much end as they petered out as politicians moved on to other topics. ...

Meanwhile, nonprofit organizations like Judicial Watch, Cause for Action, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), and others have used Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests and legal challenges to aggressively pursue the facts and circumstances surrounding the actions of IRS personnel. In addition, many of the targeted nonprofit organizations (most were eventually approved for tax exemption after awaiting a decision for up to seven years) have pursued their own legal cases in federal court.

Bloomberg BNA recently published a status report on the litigation. The text of the article has since been removed in favor of an audio report, but Paul Caron’s TaxProf Blog includes snapshots of the key cases: ...

Détente in this intergovernmental cold war will likely come only when change and accommodation comes from the IRS or when Congressional control switches parties. In the meantime, the continuing lawsuits and the long memories (not to mention political interests) of some elected officials portend more budgetary and regulatory stress at the IRS for the indefinite future.

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"It is astounding that there hasn't been a special prosecutor appointed to look into this."

Special prosecutors are only appointed to investigate Republican administrations, don't forget. Lying to Congress, spying on American citizens, spying on and attempting to prosecutie reporters, blowing up hospitals run by Doctor's Without Borders, viewpoint discrimination, gun-running, influence peddling, etc. that's par for the course for Democratic administrations. But nothing worthy of special independent investigations...

Posted by: MM | Aug 31, 2017 7:40:14 PM

So the partisan abuse carried out by a government agency staffed with partisan career workers at the direction of the White House was made a partisan issue by their victims speaking out?

When jounolists are trying to figure out the story behind this, they need to remember their complicity. Obama and the Democrats could never have gotten away without the media controlled by the DNC. One only has to analyze the writing structure to see how the journolists continue to play a big role in sweeping one of the largest abuses against Americans since Watergate under the rug.

Posted by: wodun | Aug 28, 2017 10:35:50 PM

It is astounding that there hasn't been a special prosecutor appointed to look into this. You can bet your life that if it were the Republicans using the IRS to shut down Democrats during an election cycle the media would have screamed until someone got to the bottom of this huge scandal. As many have said...think of the media as Democrats with a byline.

Posted by: VoteOutIncumbents | Aug 28, 2017 11:56:20 AM