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Friday, May 10, 2013

IRS Admits to Targeting Conservative Political Groups



"Hey it's not my fault that conservative groups can't take a joke. I mean, it was all the fault of low-level workers in Ohio. I had nothing to do with it. I just benefited from it."

During an election no less.

From the AP:

The Internal Revenue Service inappropriately flagged conservative political groups for additional reviews during the 2012 election to see if they were violating their tax-exempt status, a top IRS official said Friday.
Organizations were singled out because they included the words "tea party" or "patriot" in their applications for tax-exempt status, said Lois Lerner, who heads the IRS division that oversees tax-exempt groups.

In some cases, groups were asked for their list of donors, which violates IRS policy in most cases, she said.

"That was wrong. That was absolutely incorrect, it was insensitive and it was inappropriate. That's not how we go about selecting cases for further review," Lerner said at a conference sponsored by the American Bar Association.

"The IRS would like to apologize for that," she added.

Lerner said the practice was initiated by low-level workers in Cincinnati and was not motivated by political bias. After her talk, she told The AP that no high level IRS officials knew about the practice.

I love the idea that this was all the fault of low-level workers. You know, it was just some office workers in Cincinnati that were being overly officious. No big deal. Uh-huh.

But the biggest laugh is the idea that it wasn't politically motivated. Specifically conservative political groups are target during a contentious election, and we're supposed to believe that it wasn't politically motivated? Are they trying to go for ironic humor here?

Oh yeah, back in 2009 Obama was joking about auditing his enemies. Probably for "punishment" and "revenge," two of this president's favorite concepts when dealing with Americans.

From the 2009 Glenn Reynolds piece in The Wall Street Journal (via Instapundit):
Barack Obama owes his presidency in no small part to the power of rhetoric. It's too bad he doesn't appreciate the damage that loose talk can do to America's tax system, even as exploding federal deficits make revenues more important than ever.

At his Arizona State University commencement speech last Wednesday, Mr. Obama noted that ASU had refused to grant him an honorary degree, citing his lack of experience, and the controversy this had caused. He then demonstrated ASU's point by remarking, "I really thought this was much ado about nothing, but I do think we all learned an important lesson. I learned never again to pick another team over the Sun Devils in my NCAA brackets. . . . President [Michael] Crowe and the Board of Regents will soon learn all about being audited by the IRS."

Just a joke about the power of the presidency. Made by Jay Leno it might have been funny. But as told by Mr. Obama, the actual president of the United States, it's hard to see the humor. Surely he's aware that other presidents, most notably Richard Nixon, have abused the power of the Internal Revenue Service to harass their political opponents. But that abuse generated a powerful backlash and with good reason. Should the IRS come to be seen as just a bunch of enforcers for whoever is in political power, the result would be an enormous loss of legitimacy for the tax system. 
[...]

One reason why Americans don't act like Italians [famous for their tax evasion] is that they see the income-tax system as basically fair in execution. A tax audit or a tax-fraud prosecution is still seen, usually, as evidence that someone has done something wrong. If it comes instead to be seen as "just politics" then the moral component of the system will be gone. For the system to work, people have to believe that it is fundamentally fair.

This is why the IRS is so strict with its own employees. Paul Caron, a professor at the University of Cincinnati who writes the TaxProf blog, noted in response to Mr. Obama's remarks that the law calls for the termination of IRS employees who make audit threats for illegitimate reasons. He suggested that Mr. Obama's "joke" might be grounds for firing if he were an IRS employee. 
[...]  
The notion that people who are audited are probably just "enemies of the regime," coupled with the idea that big shots get a pass -- that, as Leona Helmsley is reputed to have said, "taxes are for the little people" -- is a recipe for widespread tax evasion. That's how things work in Italy, and in many other countries around the world. But do we want things to work that way here?
It wasn't a joke this time. And indeed "enemies of the regime" were targeted and harassed during an election.

This is banana republic crap-- or Chicago political machine crap. Either way, it cannot be tolerated nor ignored.

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