I see the NY Times is setting the stage for a Sympathy Fest for the beleaguered IRS. The warm-up band plays a mournful tune of the department overseeing non-profit groups as being all alone, with no direction. Not only are they stumbling along with unclear guidance, but they are buried under mountains of new 501c(4) applications. And do you know whose fault that is? The Tea Party! This new beast roared onto the scene and the IRS had to slow them down, check them out, get to the bottom of their suspect motives. Everyone knows the Tea Party formed to circumvent the law and raise tax exempt money to get their candidates elected. If they couldn’t do it by having dead people vote or enfranchising millions of illegal aliens, then they would pull the wool over the eyes of the poor, demoralized and intimidated IRS. That is of course just my spin on what the IRS claims to have happened. The NY Times tells us, “Over three years, as the office struggled with a growing caseload of advocacy groups seeking tax exemptions, responsibility for the cases moved from one group of specialists to another, and the Determinations Unit, which handles all nonprofit applications, was reorganized. One batch of cases sat ignored for months. Few if any of the employees were experts on tax law, contributing to waves of questionnaires about groups’ political activity and donors that top officials acknowledge were improper.”
Just a thought: shouldn’t the employees in charge of determining if groups are abiding by the tax law be themselves experts in tax law?
The NY Times is quick to imply that the clarity of the IRS alleged violations is actually more “muddled” than earlier reports might suggest. The IRS did not play political favorites. At least 2 DOZEN liberal groups were tagged for scrutiny out of the 400 groups audited. Imagine that! 24 out of 400! Proof positive that there was no political bias! And any group proposing to be involved in “instruction in the constitution” was red-flagged for scrutiny NOT from any desire to intimidate groups that might be educating citizens about their rights and the proper role of the constitution in limiting government, as the cynics propose. The IRS just needed to make sure that those sneaky new 501c(4) groups were really educating, not campaigning. “Instruction in the Constitution” has all the earmarks of a cheat.
What about countless follow-up questionnaires that stymied the approval of countless conservative groups right around the time of the presidential election? Pure coincidence! They were just hoping to form a standardized questionnaire for future use from a variety of tested questions that would help streamline the process of finding those groups who were abusing their tax exempt status. So why were there questions about the content of prayers in certain group members, as noted by one Right To Life group ? This is not as intrusive as you might think. Clearly, it is an unfair political advantage to have God on your side, and grounds for revocation of any 501 C .(Again, just my spin on the matter in trying to understand the mindset of the overworked and overwrought IRS). It could also be that in those thousands of pages of tax code, prayers are not exempt from taxation.
Besides, how could the IRS be expected to handle the complex task before them? As noted by the Times, “Administering the nearly four-million-word federal tax code involves so many arcane legalities, and is so fraught with potential to ignite Washington’s partisan skirmishes or infuriate taxpayers, that much of the I.R.S. is run by lawyers.” I don’t mean to quibble, but it seems ever so slightly ironic that the average citizen is expected to understand the four-million-word federal tax code, or face the consequences, while the IRS needs a warehouse full of lawyers to do so.
Then the Times finally gets to the real problem: “Outside the (IRS) Cincinnati office on Thursday, employees on smoking breaks voiced many complaints. Pay freezes, mandatory furloughs and the effects of sequestration were all testing their already low morale.” The Sequester, and ensuing furloughs! I knew the Times would manage to interject the Sequester into the problem! The targeted audits began three years ago, fully 2 1/2 years before the Sequester, but nonetheless, one cannot underestimate the effects of the Sequester on the IRS workers. ( And FYI, the Sequester is the Conservatives fault, too.)
By the end of the article, if you are not weeping tears of outrage over what the Tea Party forced this hard-working, and critical department of the IRS to do, then you have no heart. The one glaring note missing from the Sympathy Symphony is scant mention of any one in charge who should have been managing this little rogue bunch in the IRS Determination unit. Those employees seem to have devised the intrusive questionnaires, the red-flag phrases, and the list of groups to target all on their own, with no input from higher ups, who presumably were well versed in tax law. President Obama’s culpability as Chief Executive who swore to uphold the Constitution is not mentioned either. Of course, who could expect our busy Executive to keep tabs on every aspect of Government, especially when he is so hard at work expanding it?
“The IRS! They’re like the Mafia, they can take anything they want!”
― Jerry Seinfeld
By: Vicky Kaseorg
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