IRS: An Abuse of Power

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IRS: An Abuse of Power

What the IRS scandal reveals about the state of the U.S. administration

Investigations into the dealings of the Internal Revenue Service have begun after irs officials confirmed on May 10 that they had targeted groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names. From 2010 to 2012, at least three officials, one in Washington and two in California, directly targeted these groups, which were seeking tax-exemption status. The actions of the irs run diametrically opposite to what is expected of the agency. It is supposed to remain free of bias.

There were at least 75 such groups that were targeted merely because of their names. They make up almost one quarter of all groups that were singled out for further analysis by the irs in Washington in that time period. Some of the targeted organizations were burdened with questionnaires that were designed to determine, among other things, the extent of their voter outreach. Not only were these questionnaires time consuming, they forced the conservative groups to give up valuable, confidential information.

In a Jan. 9, 2012, letter to the Richmond Tea Party, for example, irs officials asked questions about “the names of donors, contributors and grantors,” as well as how much money they gave, and when they gave it. According to Richmond Tea Party officials, the harassment led to a drop in donors, because the donors were concerned about remaining anonymous.

Other groups were frustrated by the irs after being blocked and delayed for two years. The Wetumpka Tea Party of Alabama was delayed in its acquisition of tax-free exemption before being hounded with more questionnaires that asked for the names of all its volunteers and contributor amounts, as well as the names of legislators it had been in communication with. This questionnaire came in 2012, in the lead-up to the presidential elections. Political conservatives are calling it an intimidation tactic.

The organizations with “tea party” or “patriot” in their name were not the only ones singled out. There were groups that opposed the Affordable Care Act—Obamacare—that also came under heightened scrutiny. This raises concerns that the scandal goes beyond the irs, to the White House. Recent U.S. history proves that the irs isn’t immune to manipulation by the government.

Presidents have used the irs to harass political opponents in the past. In 1969, President Nixon agreed to use the irs to examine left-wing tax-exempt organizations. In the ’90s, conservative non-profit organizations accused the Clinton administration of targeting them through the irs.

The irs is not only selective with individuals and organizations, but also with states. A study published in the Economics and Politics journal in 2001 stated that “the percentage of tax returns audited by the irs is markedly lower in states that are important to the sitting president’s reelection aspirations. We also find that the irs is responsive to it oversight committees.” The pattern was noticed between 1992 and 1997. It shows that the irs is willing to be less troublesome to states that the president wants in his electoral camp.

As soon as the latest irs scandal started making headlines, Republicans across the board began calling for heads to roll. However, there are few in the irs that can take the blame. The commissioner at the time, Douglas Shulman, stepped down in November 2012. He could hold partial responsibility after receiving a briefing from the treasury inspector general for tax administration that gave a rundown of how the irs was targeting specific groups. He received the briefing in May 2012. His assistant, Steven Miller, was also made aware of the situation at that time. As the White House began to respond to the scandal, one of the first steps was for the Secretary of the Treasury, Jack Lew, to request and accept the resignation of Mr. Miller. Since Mr. Shulman stepped down, Mr. Miller fulfilled the role of acting-commissioner.

Both men were supposedly informed numerous times about the problem within the irs. “I wrote to the irs three times last year after hearing concerns that conservative groups were being targeted,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, a Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.

Now it is time to ask, Did the White House know? With the White House condemning the irs scandal and distancing itself from it, it is not yet clear what role it had in the irs’s targeted investigations. The president claimed he first heard of the story on May 10. It was on the same day the irs acknowledged it was targeting specific groups.

Lois Lerner, the irs official overseeing tax-exempt groups, said the targeting was “a misguided effort to come up with an efficient means of dealing with a flood of applicants from organizations seeking tax-exempt status between 2010 and 2012.” Another way of saying that would be to give pro-liberal organizations a free pass, and burden the opposition with as many questionnaires and delays as possible.

Lerner may try to hide behind “misguided” efforts, but her actions speak louder than her words. When President Obama’s half-brother applied for tax-exempt status for his organization, Mrs. Lerner approved the application within a month. This is despite the fact that it operated illegally for years prior to that time. The application was submitted on May 23, 2011, and Lerner signed off on it on June 26. That is a stark contrast to the three years that other non-profit organizations had to wait. The situation has continued to stir controversy between Washington’s chief political parties.

Republican and Democratic political parties view each other as wrong, if not evil. When a political party holds such a mindset, then it is likely to do whatever it can to stop its opposition. Obviously such a mindset should be intolerable at the governing level, particularly for the president. Yet, as Peter Morici from Fox News said, “President Obama cultivates a culture of anything goes to defeat opponents and advance his liberal agenda.” This is evident in the way his subordinates within the irs have singled out certain groups for questioning.

At the outbreak of the scandal, President Obama responded by saying, “If you have the irs operating in anything less than a neutral and nonpartisan way, then that is outrageous, it is contrary to our traditions.”

The traditions that the president is referring to are the national laws which state that the federal government is not allowed to target specific people for tax purposes without a valid cause.

Here’s more on the response of the president and other policymakers:

The irs is a bureau within the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The commissioner is elected by the president of the United States for a five-year term. He reports to the secretary of the treasury. When the highest official in the irs is directly involved in the cover-up of the scandal (the acting commissioner responded to concerns from Congress last year by assuring it no such groups were being targeted), it shows a level of corruption that has permeated the government of the nation.

This latest scandal—the latest of many—has come just after the Philadelphia Church of God released a booklet titled America Under Attack, which highlights the corruption within the U.S. government, the judicial system and the attack on the law of the land. If the administration used the irs to attack its political opponents, that is an outright violation of constitutional law. In the booklet America Under Attack, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes, “This type of anti-Constitution reasoning is suddenly becoming quite popular. Do you know why? It is because the Obama administration is taking actions just about every week that raise constitutional questions and that threaten to undermine America’s foundational document.”

If you haven’t already, order a free copy of the booklet. It will show you how the administration has been systematically undermining to the point where it is working to bring down the very nation that it governs! The booklet will show you the reason behind society’s deadly decline, as well as where the attack is coming from, and how it is undermining the Constitution.

The irs investigation is the latest in a slew of scandals that lead right up the steps of the White House. Watch as this pattern of corruption continues as the Obama administration disregards the laws that were set in place to provide safety, and instead chooses to continue down its destructive path.