Posted: July 25, 2018 Filed under: Law & Justice, Think Tank, U.S. News | Tags: Department of Motor Vehicles, IRS, Licensing, Occupational Licensing, Permission
The granting or withholding of that approval is a powerful lever over our lives.
>J.D. Tuccille writes: Increasingly, that’s the theme of modern America. More and more of what we do is dependent on permission from the government. That permission, unsurprisingly, is contingent on keeping government officials happy. Rub those officials the wrong way and they’ll strip you of permission to travel the roads, leave the country, or even make a living.
That’s not a recipe for a free country.
In February of this year, the IRS began sending the U.S. State Department lists of Americans who have a seriously delinquent tax debt, so that these individuals can be denied the right to travel overseas.
“[T]his only applies to a seriously delinquent tax debt,” cautions tax attorney Robert W. Wood, “more than $50,000. Even so, that $50,000 includes penalties and interest. A $20,000 tax debt can grow to $50,000 including penalties and interest.”
Passport revocation isn’t contingent on criminal conviction, or suspicion of flight. Your travel documents can be yanked just for the outstanding debt—even if you’re already outside the country.
“If you’re already overseas, the State Department may, but is not required to, provide a passport permitting your return home,” writes former federal prosecutor Justin Gelfand. “And a 1952 statute makes it a crime for a U.S. citizen to enter or exit the country without a valid passport.”
That law requiring a passport to cross the border in either direction, combined with the threat to strip passports from alleged tax debtors, effectively makes the country one big debtors’ prison.
What connection is there between taxes and the right to travel? None. Members of Congress and other government officials just thought they could coerce more people into meeting IRS demands if they made the right to travel (not so much a “right” any more) dependent on keeping the taxman happy. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: March 14, 2017 Filed under: Breaking News, Entertainment, Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Anderson Cooper, Anderson Cooper 360°, Bernie Sanders, CNN, Donald Trump, IRS, MSNBC, Rachel Maddow, Taxes, United States, Van Jones
On CNN Anderson Cooper 360, Political Analysts and Commentators Van Jones, Ryan Lizza, Matt Lewis, Gloria Borger, Paul Begala and Jason Miller discusses the 2005 President Trump’s Tax returns released by the White House showing that Trump paid $38 millions in taxes, though the legitimacy of the tax return has not been verified.
Posted: November 10, 2016 Filed under: Entertainment, Humor, Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Donald Trump, FBI, IRS, Presidential Election 2016, Transfer of Power, Valerie Jarrett, White House Staff
Posted: September 4, 2016 Filed under: Censorship, Politics, Reading Room, Think Tank, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Claire Fox, Dick Durbin, Hillary Clinton, IRS, Kimberly Strassel, Lois Lerner, Milwaukee County, National Guard of the United States, Police car, Progressivism, Scott Walker, Scott Walker (politician), State of Emergency, The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech, The Left, Tom Barrett (politician)
The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech, by Kimberly Strassel (Twelve Press, 396 pp., $30)
I Find that Offensive!, by Claire Fox (Biteback Publishing, 179 pp., $14.95)
Fred Siegel writes:
…Strassel’s chapters on the politicization of the IRS in Obama’s hands make for a striking summary of Chicago skullduggery. In 2012, an election year, the IRS, led by liberal operative Lois Lerner, systematically sidelined conservative (often Tea Party) organizations. The broadest and deepest scandal in IRS history is more than three years old, but there is little chance that Obama’s Chicago-ized Justice Department will hold anyone accountable. Strassel also discusses the attempts led by Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Dick Durbin of Illinois to criminalize criticism of the standard-issue UN position on climate change. The senators insist that manmade climate change is a matter of “settled science.” But climate is always changing, and science is never settled.
[Order Kimberly Strassel’s book “The Intimidation Game: How the Left is Silencing Free Speech“ from Amazon.com]
In late 2008, after Democrats took control of all three branches of government, the Left realized, writes Strassel, that it could use the federal bureaucracy to deploy campaign finance laws selectively against its opponents. The Left could also call upon “the extraordinary new power of the Internet and social media” to convince “a credulous public” that its assaults on opposition political activity “were aimed at ‘cleaner’ and ‘more open’ elections.” This dynamic constitutes what Strassel calls “the modern intimidation game” that “now defines American politics.”
[Read the full review here, at City Journal]
In Wisconsin, Democrats enraged by Governor Scott Walker’s successful effort to limit the collective bargaining rights of public employees played the intimidation game even while out of power. The state’s Progressive-era laws, designed to ensure fair elections, and its unique Government Accountability Board were turned against conservative activists who supported Walker. Democratic Party county prosecutors pressed an array of lawsuits and used armed sheriffs’ deputies to stage early-morning raids, guns drawn, on the homes of conservative activists suspected of having marginally violated state campaign finance laws—in this case, the heinous crime of having outside committees coordinate campaign expenditures with Governor Walker’s electoral efforts. Further, the accused were forbidden by state law of telling anyone, except their lawyers, about the raids. Most of this, as Strassel accurately notes, was “simple harassment.”
[Order Claire Fox’s book “I Find that Offensive!” from Amazon.com]
As for real wrongdoing, the Obama administration, as Strassel explains, has slow-walked documents required for the investigation into the IRS scandals and the Justice Department’s Fast and Furious fiasco, in which the federal government inadvertently armed Mexican drug cartels. Moreover, the House committee examining the Benghazi debacle still doesn’t have tens of thousands of Hillary Clinton emails. But the investigation did inadvertently expose the former secretary of state’s home-brewed email server. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: July 17, 2016 Filed under: Censorship, Mediasphere, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Barack Obama, FCC, First Amendment, Freedom of speech, IRS, Liberals, Michael Barone, Political Speech, Salon.com
Michael Barone writes: The knee jerk response of many liberals to political attacks seems to be to suppress such speech. Examples abound. Michigan Rep. Gary Peters, running for the Senate, threatens the broadcast licenses of stations that run adscriticizing him. Over at salon.com Fred Jerome imagines what it would be like to nationalize — have the government take over — Fox News. And of course evidence continues to accumulate that high Internal Revenue Service officials denied approval to conservative groups in order to suppress political speech.
[Read the full story here, at Washington Examiner]
Then there’s the Federal Communications Commission‘s “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs”–put on hold Friday. The FCC was going to query TV station and newspaper
writers about their “coverage choices.” As my Washington Examiner colleague Byron York explains, this “study” was the project of Democratic FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn, daughter of Rep. James Clyburn, and it was scheduled to be rolled out first in Columbia, S.C. — which just happens to be the Clyburns’ hometown. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 5, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Economics, History, Law & Justice, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Accountants, Bureacracy, Complexity, corruption, Death, Enterprise, Investment, IRS, Legislation, Tax Lawyers, Tax Planning, Taxes
‘None of these people have any incentive to undertake the job of decreasing the complexity of the tax system.’
primatologist writes: If most people in the US knew the truth about the tax system in their country, there would be blood in the streets. Most individuals file a very simple federal income tax return – perhaps they take a few deductions for their mortgage interest, medical costs and the like. But this annual experience for the vast majority of Americans gives them a very skewed view of the great mass of the US tax system – it is the tiniest visible sign of an enormous tumor that grows beneath the surface, invisible to most US citizens and tax payers.
“This is how it works: To escape the high tax rates on business activities in the US, armies of lobbyists work ceaselessly to insert arcane, narrow exceptions and exemptions into federal and state tax laws at the legislative level. The exceptions and exemptions are as narrow as possible and often use very convoluted and technical language. The use of opaque language is intentional: it helps legislators avoid the kind of political trouble that comes from handing out tax exemptions.”
Two facts that are rarely discussed by the US media and which never come to the attention of the majority of US individual taxpayers illustrate this: The US has by far the highest corporate income tax rate of any developed country (and among the highest marginal tax rates for individuals who live in high tax states), and the US has an incredibly large and complex structure of tax laws. While most US taxpayers don’t know about the relatively high rates of US taxation, the crucial reality of the US tax system that is hidden from almost everyone is the insane complexity of the US tax code that applies to investment and business activities.
“Why uncertainty? Because as the tax laws and regulations become more and more complex, and the language in which they are expressed becomes more and more divorced from normal usage, only very intelligent people who spend all their time doing nothing but learning and manipulating tax language can even begin to know what the laws and rules mean.”
This is how it works: To escape the high tax rates on business activities in the US, armies of lobbyists work ceaselessly to insert arcane, narrow exceptions and exemptions into federal and state tax laws at the legislative level. The exceptions and exemptions are as narrow as possible and often use very convoluted and technical language.
[Yes, We Still Have the World’s Highest Corporate-Tax Rate]
The use of opaque language is intentional: it helps legislators avoid the kind of political trouble that comes from handing out tax exemptions. (There is also the factor that legislators all play the game of “I’ll vote for your campaign contributor’s tax exemption if you’ll vote for mine.”) Tax authorities (that’s the IRS for the federal government, but it happens at the state and local level, too, in high-tax states and cities) create voluminous regulations to implement these tax laws. Lobbyists also work to influence that process, as well as returning to the legislature to create exceptions to the exceptions to the exceptions created in the regulations.
“Trying to undo the complexity of the tax code would reveal all this incredible responsive complexity: And it would cause massive economic losses. Trillions and trillions of dollars worth of value is invested in ways that are structured in response to the complexity of our tax laws. Without those giant stacks of tax rules and exceptions and exceptions to exceptions, etc., those investment and business operations structures would not make sense legally or economically.”
Meanwhile, “tax planning” to take advantage of this constantly growing and increasingly complex web of laws and regulations becomes a bigger and bigger part of how businesses structure their enterprises and investments. “Tax planning” is carried out by armies of accountants and lawyers and consultants, all of whom are handsomely paid to do work that contributes nothing to economic growth or prosperity.
[Also see – Nobody Knows How Many Federal Agencies Exist]
The work of the “tax planning” professionals becomes more and more complex and incomprehensible to those outside their fraternity, as it is essentially the incantation of linguistic “magic spells” that have nothing whatsoever to do with the actual business enterprise, and everything to do with fitting into the ever-more-convoluted language of the tax codes. More and more layers of complexity are added, each with additional cost and uncertainty.
“The same process applies to entirely domestic business. Entrepreneurs and investors spend huge amounts of money on lawyers, accountants and consultants to create complex – and completely unnecessary – corporate and operational structures aimed solely at taking advantages of complex tax benefits.”
Why uncertainty? Because as the tax laws and regulations become more and more complex, and the language in which they are expressed becomes more and more divorced from normal usage, only very intelligent people who spend all their time doing nothing but learning and manipulating tax language can even begin to know what the laws and rules mean.
“One consequence of this process that everyone who is involved in international business knows very well is that no one wants to do business in the United States if they can help it.“
And they won’t all agree – until a very clear case is litigated to conclusion in a court or the IRS issues a “clarification,” it’s all just educated guesses. By the time a term comes to have well-understood meaning, the exceptions to the rules that use that term – using new words that were intentionally difficult to understand in the first place – have to be interpreted and clarified.
“And here’s the real horror: No one outside the fraternity of tax regulators, lobbyists, tax lawyers, accountants and consultants really perceives how enormous the structure of tax complexity is. Investors and entrepreneurs learn no more than they have to – just what they have to know to do the specific deal they’re working on or carry out their own narrow business operations.”
This process has been going on for well over a hundred years with no let up. In fact, the scale and complexity of the tax codes continues to grow exponentially, as the feedback process of high tax rates leading to exceptions leading to exceptions to exceptions continues ad infinitum.
“Unwinding all that complexity would wipe out huge swathes of the US economy – and create a whole new set of winners and losers that has nothing to do with the underlying matter of actually creating real value in the real world.”
One consequence of this process that everyone who is involved in international business knows very well is that NO ONE WANTS TO DO BUSINESS IN THE UNITED STATES IF THEY CAN HELP IT. This is the world I work in. In my professional world it is simply taken for granted that people with money to invest will do anything in their power to structure their business so that no possible argument can be made that they did business or invested in the US. Companies and wealthy individuals go to extreme lengths to avoid putting any kind of investment into the US if it is at all possible.
[More – Reminder: The Federal Tax Code & Regulations are Now Over 10 Million Words in Length]
Does this mean that no one invests in US businesses? No. The US consumer market is too big, and innovation in the US is too valuable for that to be true. What it does mean, though is that below a certain very large scale, it just doesn’t pay. Even more important, it also means that every investment in the US is “taxed” in a way that does no one (outside of the business of avoiding tax) any good: Huge amounts of money are spent creating unnecessary complexity to minimize US taxation as much as possible: Extra layers of incorporation and complex accounting structures are created to do everything possible to minimize the amount of income earned in the US. All that time, effort and money spent avoiding US taxation adds to the cost of investment without creating one dime of revenue for the US government. Finally, foreign investors in the US do everything they can to get their money out of the US as quickly as possible: The more time an investment is exposed to US tax law, the larger the chance that some tax law magic spell will be countered by some other tax law magic spell and – BANG! – there go all the profits. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 30, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Economics, Law & Justice, Politics, Think Tank | Tags: Congress, Federal Government, IRS, Regulations, tax code, The U.S. Senate, White House
Posted: October 27, 2015 Filed under: Breaking News, Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: Commissioner Koskinen, Democratic Party (United States), Elijah Cummings, Internal Revenue Service, Intimidation, IRS, Jason Chaffetz, Perjury, Republican Party (United States), United States Congress, United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
“Commissioner violated the public trust. He failed to comply with a congressionally issued subpoena, documents were destroyed on his watch, and the public was consistently misled.”
“Impeachment is the appropriate tool to restore public confidence in the IRS and to protect the institutional interests of Congress. This action will demonstrate to the American people that the IRS is under repair, and signal that Executive Branch officials who violate the public trust will be held accountable.”
— Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz in a news release
Source: Katy O’Donnell, Politico.com
Posted: October 5, 2015 Filed under: Censorship, Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: Democracy, FBI, FOIA, Freedom of Information Act (United States), Freedom of information laws by country, Hillary Clinton, IRS, journalism, media, news, Transparency, United States Department of State
Though it has been in place since 1967, some of us don’t fully understand—or take advantage of—the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The act, often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government, requires federal agencies to disclose requested information. While there are nine specific exemptions, the FOIA grants citizens a wide range of information controlled by the U.S. government.
As election season nears, and in light of an outbreak of high profile investigations into government dealings, FOIA requests have gained currency as an indispensable tool to shed light on the inner workings of public affairs.
Especially in the internet age, citizens should have free and unrestricted access to government information. As an essential tool to gain access to the troves of electronic information at the heart of the biggest, most important government disputes, FOIA requests are crucial for a transparent democracy. But to tap into the heaps of information, electronic and otherwise, you need to know how to file a request and identify the nine exemptions. This infographic clearly details the process of filing a request under the act as well as what happens once a request is made.
Posted: July 29, 2015 Filed under: Censorship, Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Politics | Tags: Barack Obama, Congress, corruption, fraud, Freedom of Assembly, Freedom of speech, Impeachment, IRS, Jim Jordan, John Koskinen, Lois Lerner, Obama administration, Richard Nixon, Ron DeSantis, Taxpayer, The Smidgen Report, The White House
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen Has Got to Go
Posted: May 11, 2015 Filed under: Censorship, Think Tank, War Room, White House | Tags: 9/11, Al Gore, Berkeley, Bush Administration, Conspiracy, Coup, Dissent, George W. Bush, Global warming, Hillary Clinton, IRS, Mark Halperin, Misconduct, Paranoia, Pope, Sedevacantism, University of California
No, the Obama administration isn’t going to invade Texas
David French writes:
…Let’s not forget that more than half of Democrat voters thought it was “very” or “somewhat” likely that the Bush administration either “assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East.” Let that sink in: For all the elite’s disdain of allegedly gullible conservatives, a majority of the Left believed that an American president was complicit in mass murder.
[Disagreement as Mental Illness]
[Cultural Conservatives Have Barely Begun to Fight]
[The P.C. Thought Police Aren’t Fragile; They’re Vengeful and Malicious]
But extreme paranoia wasn’t limited to the Democratic rank and file. As National Review’s own Rich Lowry pointed out, Naomi Wolf (former campaign consultant to Bill Clinton and Al Gore) actually wrote a book explaining how the Bush administration was mirroring the early actions of dictatorships like those in Germany, Russia, and China. Harper’s Magazine published breathless stories about a barely averted Bush administration “coup” or “military dictatorship.” Even as recently as 2013, the National Journal published an article claiming that military officers were considering “staging a coup” against President Obama — the basis for the claim was a series of statements by a retired general who specifically declared that no coup was being contemplated.
[Democrats Push to Criminalize Dissent]
[The War on the Private Mind]
[The Burdens of Thought Policing]
In this atmosphere of earned distrust, it is appropriate for elected officials to ask questions about even benign and well-meaning military exercises. No, the Obama administration isn’t going to invade Texas or Utah. Yes, there are some bottom-dwelling, opportunistic conspiracy-mongers who’ve done their best to whip up public concern. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 20, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Economics, Entertainment, Humor, Mediasphere, White House | Tags: Bus Stop, corruption, IRS, Posters, satire, Street art, Tax Day, The Smidgen Report
Arty Absatz – Twitter
Posted: April 15, 2015 Filed under: Art & Culture, Crime & Corruption, Entertainment, Humor, Reading Room | Tags: Book Cover, Crime fiction, Death and Taxes, design, graphics, Illustration, IRS, Paperback, pulp fiction, Thriller, typography, vintage
‘Death and Taxes’ by David Dodge, Cover Art by Rudolph Belarski
Posted: April 11, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Politics, Reading Room, Think Tank | Tags: Barack Obama, Columbia Journalism Review, corruption, End the IRS Before It Ends Us, Gross domestic product, Grover Norquist, IRS, Lois Lerner, Los Angeles, Los Angeles Times, Robert W. Merry, Tea Party, The New York Times
Robert W. Merry reviews Grover Norquist’s new book
Robert W. Merry
writes: Among the more enjoyable spectacles of Washington in recent years has been watching Grover Norquist eluding once again a contingent of media foxhounds in full bray, yelping and jumping at the bottom of a tree in which, they are convinced, they have finally trapped the prominent anti-tax guru. One such episode took place in November 2012, shortly after President Obama’s reelection—and at a time when official Washington faced a choice between a grand fiscal compromise and the austere budget cuts that would kick in automatically under what was known as “sequestration.”
Congress would never allow sequestration to take effect, according to the media wisdom of the day, and hence Republicans would have to accept tax increases as part of the alternative fiscal bargain. That would mean the GOP would have to repudiate the famous Tax Pledge devised by Norquist and signed by nearly every congressional Republican. That, in turn, would destroy the force and power of that nettlesome Tax Pledge—and dislodge Norquist from his prominent place as Horatio at the bridge of tax policy.
[Order Grover Norquist’s book “End the IRS Before It Ends Us: How to Restore a Low Tax, High Growth, Wealthy America“, Center Street, 352 pp., $20.25 at Amazon.com]
This particular episode took place around the luncheon table of the Center for the National Interest (publisher of this website and its allied magazine), and the media hounds went after Norquist with the glee of those who know they are about to witness a political comeuppance of serious magnitude. Through it all, the imperturbable Norquist confidently and quietly held his ground—never ruffled, never riled, never lacking in magnanimity, seemingly sure of his aces. “This isn’t my first rodeo,” he said, and laid out a lucid political explanation for why his Pledge would hold, even in the face of such tectonic pressures.
[Read the full text of Robert W. Merry‘s review here at The National Interest]
The next day, the Los Angeles Times offered an analysis entitled, “Grover Norquist the has-been.” It proclaimed that “even he can’t ignore the signs that his hold is slipping.” The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank, after quoting Norquist’s insistence that congressional Republicans would adhere to their anti-tax heritage, even in the face of the looming sequestration decision, wrote with a smirk, “Also, the dog ate Norquist’s homework.” He added that Norquist’s confidence on the matter suggested he “had been on a long trip in a remote location.” The New York Times, in a front-page feature, suggested Norquist “finds himself in a tricky spot.”
What happened next? The sequestration deadline came and went, no grand fiscal compromise emerged, the austere spending cuts went into effect, and Norquist’s famous Pledge remained intact, as did the political standing and influence of Norquist himself. Dana Milbank never got around to revealing to his readers his own remote location whenthe dog was eating his prediction of Norquist’s political demise. Truly, Norquist is a Washington figure to be reckoned with.
Now he bundles up his anti-tax sentiments and political assessments into a sprightly volume entitled: End the IRS Before It Ends Us: How to Restore a Low Tax, High Growth, Wealthy America. It’s a book of many parts: primer on America’s tax history and growth in government; polemical expose of liberal legerdemain on the issue; policy recommendations for smaller government, strong economic growth and a streamlined tax system; and paean to the energy and efficiency of unfettered capitalism. He even provides an amusing narrative of the earnest efforts of his adversaries to obliterate his famous Pledge, all to no avail.
The reason they can’t obliterate it, writes Norquist, is that the American people are on to the ominous consequences of inexorable governmental expansion and fiscal incontinence. Currently, U.S. governmental spending—federal, state and local—amounts to 34 percent of the national economy, while taxes consume about 30 percent of annual GDP. And what’s going to happen to tax rates and the governmental share of GDP, he asks, when it comes time to pay down the $17 trillion in federal debt (nearly $8 trillion of it added on Obama’s watch) or the $123 trillion in “unfunded liabilities” accumulated through years of irresponsible government spending?
All this has generated civic angers that in turn spawned the Tea Party phenomenon of the early Obama years—the country’s first mass movement focused primarily on governmental spending. During the week of April 15, 2009, Americans gathered across the country in more than 600—perhaps as many as a thousand—anti-spending rallies with up to a million participants. As Norquist puts it, “A wall of opposition to government spending rose up.” At the next election, Republicans campaigning against government spending and Obama’s stimulus legislation captured the House by gaining sixty-three seats in that chamber; they also picked up a net gain of six Senate seats.
Two years later, though, the Tea Party movement seemed to have petered out. Republicans failed to oust Obama from the White House or to capture the four Senate seats needed for control of that chamber. What happened?
According to Norquist, the answer is simple. “The Tea Party didn’t fall down the stairs. It was pushed.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: April 1, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Politics | Tags: Attorney general, Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Lois Lerner, Police officer
The masks are all off now.
The DoJ won’t press contempt charges against her for her busted attempt to plead the fifth (Here Is a Statement of Alleged Facts I Want to Introduce Into the Record/Having Done That, I Now Say I Don’t Want to Speak for the Record).
Supposedly the DoJ is still considering bringing some sort of charges against her over the Tea Party Targeting.
Sure. I’m sure Eric Holder and Barack Obama want to get right to the bottom of the conspiracy they were participants in.
Posted: March 24, 2015 Filed under: Breaking News, Entertainment, Humor, Mediasphere, Politics, The Butcher's Notebook | Tags: Associated Press, D.C., Democratic Party (United States), Houston Chronicle, Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Parody, Republican Party (United States), satire, Senate, Ted Cruz, Texas, Washington, White House
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Ted Cruz, having revealed that he files a tax return, and pays federal income tax to the IRS, even though in his newly-announced bid for the White house, he is actively campaigning against the IRS, finds himself in the midst of a firestorm of criticism and mockery. “Ted Cruz is a hypocrite. How can he attack the IRS, and at the same time, admit that he pays taxes?”, said a spokesman for ThinkProgress. “Any candidate that pays taxes with one hand, and attacks the agency that collects taxes and investigates citizens with the other hand, is not qualified to be president.”
Posted: February 23, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, U.S. News, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Bill Pascrell, corruption, Democratic Party (United States), IRS, Rep. Paul Ryan, Transparency, United States Congress Joint Committee on Taxation, United States House Committee on Ways and Means, Veto, White House
Stephen Dinan reports: The White House told Congress last week it refused to dig into its computers for emails that could shed light on what kinds of private taxpayer information the IRS shares with President Obama’s top aides, assuring Congress that the IRS will address the issue — eventually.
The tax agency has already said it doesn’t have the capability to dig out the emails in question, but the White House’s chief counsel, W. Neil Eggleston, insisted in a letter last week to House Committee on Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan that the IRS would try again once it finishes with the tea party-targeting scandal.
“It is my understanding that in May 2014, Commissioner Koskinen responded to this request by indicating that the IRS would be able to address new topics such as these following its completion of document productions already in progress,” Mr. Eggleston wrote in a Feb. 17 letter. “To the extent that the committee continues to have an oversight interest in this matter, I encourage you to continue working with the IRS to address those questions.”
“The IRS has been under fire for years over several scandals, including its targeting of tea party groups for politically motivated scrutiny and its illegal release of private taxpayer information…”
But IRS Commissioner John Koskinen’s letter last year didn’t say that. Instead Mr. Koskinen said the IRS was logistically incapable of performing the search because it would have required combing through 90,000 email accounts.
The White House’s stiff-arm comes even though it performed a similar kind of email search in the past after the IRS lost thousands of emails of former division chief Lois G. Lerner, a key figure in the tea party targeting.
Mr. Ryan is trying to figure out whether the laws that govern taxpayer information security are working, which is part of his committee’s jurisdiction.
“The White House’s stiff-arm comes even though it performed a similar kind of email search in the past after the IRS lost thousands of emails of former division chief Lois G. Lerner, a key figure in the tea party targeting.”
The IRS has been under fire for years over several scandals, including its targeting of tea party groups for politically motivated scrutiny and its illegal release of private taxpayer information concerning the National Organization for Marriage. The IRS insisted the disclosure was accidental and not politically motivated, but it did pay a settlement to the organization.
Some outside pressure groups argue the IRS’s improper behavior goes further, and includes disclosing private taxpayer information to the White House. The groups point to comments by a top White House economic adviser who in 2010 said Koch Industries, the company run by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, paid no corporate income taxes. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: January 17, 2015 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Economics, Entertainment, Humor | Tags: Barack Obama, corruption, Democratic Party, Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Lois Lerner, Mafia, Organized crime, satire, Seinfeld, Tea Party, Tyranny
Posted: January 15, 2015 Filed under: Entertainment, Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News | Tags: Academy Awards, Al Sharpton, corruption, IRS, media, Michelle Malkin, New York City, New York Post, news, Oscars, Race Hustling, Twitter
Posted: January 14, 2015 Filed under: Humor, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, corruption, Drudge Report, Federal Government, Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Matt Drudge, Obamacare, Obamaphone, United States
Posted: December 3, 2014 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Politics, U.S. News, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Cause of Action, corruption, Douglas Ernst, FOI, Freedom of Information, Freedom of Information Act (United States), Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Smidgen Report, Taxpayer, Washington Times, Watchdog
Douglas Ernst reports: The federal government will not disclose thousands of documents sought by an IRS watchdog that may prove that taxpayer data was improperly shared with the White House.
[Also see “Improper Disclosure” – The Daily Caller]
The nonprofit Cause of Action filed a lawsuit against the federal government when its Freedom of Information Act requests were stonewalled roughly two years ago. A judge agreed with the organization and ordered the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to honor the request for transparency.
An attorney with TIGTA wrote Cause of Action on Tuesday and informed the organization of “2,509 pages of documents potentially responsive to your request,” Fox News reported Wednesday. Of those documents, 2,043 were in fact responsive to the organization’s request. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: November 4, 2014 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Politics | Tags: 501(c)(4), Al Franken, corruption, Daily Caller, Intimidation, IRS, Jeanne Shaheen, Smidgen Report, William J. Wilkins
The memo, obtained by The DC, briefed Jeanne Shaheen about a coordinated IRS-Treasury Department plot to target political activity by nonprofit 501(c)(4) groups. The plot was operating out of Lois Lerner’s Tax Exempt Government Entities Division.
Patrick Howley reports: Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen was principally involved in a plot with Lois Lerner and President Barack Obama’s political appointee at the IRS to lead a program of harassment against conservative nonprofit groups during the 2012 election, according to letters exclusively obtained by The Daily Caller.
“Shaheen got the inside info from the IRS, making it clear she was the point person in a group composed of six close Democratic colleagues…who joined with Shaheen in quietly writing a letter to then-IRS commissioner Doug Shulman expressing their concern about new nonprofit groups engaging in political activity…”
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did not want to publicly release 2012 correspondences exchanged between the IRS and Jeanne Shaheen at her personal Washington office: the agency delayed releasing the information to a major conservative super PAC multiple times, even threatening to see the super PAC in court, according to emails.
“I hope this information is helpful. I am sending a similar response to your colleagues. If you have questions, please contact me or have your staff contact Cathy Barre…”
“The IRS is aware of the current public interest in this issue,” IRS chief counsel William J. Wilkins, a White House visitor described by insiders as “The President’s Man at the IRS,” personally wrote in a hand-stamped memo to “Senator Shaheen” on official Department of the Treasury letterhead on April 25, 2012.
The memo, obtained by The DC, briefed the Democratic senator about a coordinated IRS-Treasury Department plot to target political activity by nonprofit 501(c)(4) groups. The plot was operating out of Lois Lerner’s Tax Exempt Government Entities Division.
“These regulations have been in place since 1959,” Wilkins wrote. “We will consider proposed changes in this area as we work with Tax-Exempt and Government Entities and the Treasury Department’s Office of Tax Policy to identify tax issues that should be addressed” in designing new regulations and “guidance.” Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 23, 2014 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Politics, White House | Tags: Barack Obama, Civil Rights, corruption, Federal Judge, First Amendment, Global Panic, Hard Drive Crash, Internal Revenue Service, Intimidation, IRS, Lois Lerner, Reggie Walton, Smidgen Report, Tax exemption, True the Vote, United States presidential election 2012
IRS’s Harassment of Citizen Groups to Chill Opposition, Protect Incumbent Party, and Influence Presidential Election Outcome Approved by Federal Judge
The IRS notched a major legal victory Thursday after a federal judge dismissed lawsuits brought by more than 40 conservative groups seeking remedies for being singled out in the tea party targeting scandal.
“[T]he Court is satisfied that there is no reasonable expectation that the alleged conduct will recur, as the defendants have not only suspended the conduct, but have also taken remedial measures to ensure that the conduct is not repeated.”
Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia threw out almost all counts brought against the tax-collecting agency in two cases, ruling that both were essentially moot now that the IRS granted the groups their tax-exempt status that had been held up for years
Translation: “They promised not to do it anymore, so it’s okay”
The decisions have major implications for tea party groups suing the IRS over the issue. It appears they have a tough case to make because the IRS, since the controversy broke in 2013, has approved most tea party groups’ applications, which, according to Walton, keeps the court from hearing their cases.
“After the plaintiff initiated this case, its application to the IRS for tax-exempt status was approved by the IRS. The allegedly unconstitutional governmental conduct, which delayed the processing of the plaintiff’s tax exempt application and brought about this litigation, is no longer impacting the plaintiff,” Walton said in his decision to throw out True the Vote’s lawsuit against the IRS.
“The judge, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, also said the groups couldn’t receive monetary relief from individual IRS officials, such as ex-IRS official Lois Lerner, because of the ‘chilling effect’ it would have on tax administration.”
(Chilling political speech of opposition groups is okay, but risking a potential chilling effect on the IRS? No! We can’t have that!)
His reasoning was similar in the second case, where 41 conservative groups banded together to sue the IRS for similar misconduct: “[T]he allegedly unconstitutional governmental conduct … is no longer impacting the plaintiffs. … Counts … are therefore moot.”
The judge, appointed by Republican President George W. Bush, also said the groups couldn’t receive monetary relief from individual IRS officials, such as ex-IRS official Lois Lerner, because of the chilling effect it would have on tax administration.
The same judge in August rejected True the Vote’s bid for a court-appointed forensics expert to hunt Lerner’s lost emails, another blow to conservatives seeking outside experts to take the lead on the IRS investigation. Two years’ worth of the former head of the tax-exempt division’s emails were erased in a hard drive crash in 2011, the IRS says. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: October 16, 2014 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: Barack Obama, Conservatism, Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Jeff Duncan, Lois Lerner, Republican Party (United States), Tax exemption
Even if we didn’t have proof that Lois Lerner and the IRS had deliberately targeted conservative non-profit groups whose names included words like “Tea Party” and “patriots,” this could just been seen as another example of big government inefficiency and incompetence. Thing is, we know that conservative groups’ applications were held up through several election cycles to keep them from influencing the vote.
American Center for Law and Justice attorney Miles Terry writes today that two more conservative groups have had their tax-exempt applications approved — after a more than four-year delay.
Laurens County Tea Party and Allen Area Patriots both applied for tax-exemption in July of 2010. It took the IRS more than four years to review their applications and approve these groups.
Of our 41 clients, 28 have now been approved, and seven groups are still awaiting approval. One of these seven groups, Albuquerque Tea Party is less than two months away from “celebrating” five years since they originally applied for tax-exemption. To date, they have still not been approved.
C’mon, IRS. Get it together…(read more)
Posted: September 23, 2014 Filed under: Politics, U.S. News, White House | Tags: Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Lerner, Politico, Smidgen Report, Tea Party, United States Congress, Washington
Everyone in Washington has a P.R. machine, or at minimum, an agenda. That’s certainly the case with Lois Lerner, the former IRS executive whose division targeted conservative nonprofit applicants with delays and harassment.
“Lerner is willing to testify only in the news media, where the whole truth is not required and irrelevant information can be shared to make her seem less unsympathetic.”
Lerner’s division of the IRS systematically obstructed and denied status to Tea Party groups while subjecting many of the smallest ones — those most vulnerable and least likely to be lawyered up — to inappropriate demands for information that was not legally required. In one case, this included the content of the opening prayer recited in meetings, and in others, this IRS Inquisition demanded that leaders of certain groups pledge never to run for office.
Lerner is out of that business now, and on to a new campaign. This campaign, in which she has enlisted friends and former colleagues, aims to tell the side of the story that she has refused to give Congress under oath.
The resulting Politico piece includes — this is no joke — the revelations that she once baked brownies for colleagues and that she loves dogs. How delightful for her and the dogs! But so what? Lerner cited the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions about her involvement in this scandal. The reason for doing that is that she believes her answers could facilitate a criminal prosecution against her. The mysterious destruction of evidence in this case strongly suggests she is right to worry about that. So does her concerned email inquiry to government IT workers as to whether her instant messages with colleagues could ever be obtained by congressional investigators. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 8, 2014 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Politics, U.S. News | Tags: Canada, Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Lerner, Lois Lerner, Tax exemption, Tea Party, Treasury, Twitter
The documents show Lerner’s efforts to persuade Treasury auditors that there was no institutional bias at the IRS, the agency’s attempts to head off a damaging investigation with a pre-emptive apology, and Lerner’s pep talk to her staff after the apology.
WASHINGTON — Gregory Korte reports: The day that former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner publicly apologized for using “inappropriate criteria” to delay tax exemptions for Tea Party groups, she told her colleagues that they were being “beaten up by the press for all the wrong reasons.”
It was only going to get worse, she told them in an e-mail, and there was no way around it other than to “ride it through.”
Then she left for a week’s vacation in Canada.
That e-mail comes in 1,706 pages of newly released documents that shed light on the damage control happening at the IRS — and at the watchdog agency investigating it — as the scandal blew up last year. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 5, 2014 Filed under: Breaking News, Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics, White House | Tags: Arizona, Associated Press, Carl Levin, Internal Revenue Service, IRS, John McCain, Tax exemption, Tea Party
IRS says it has lost emails from FIVE MORE employees associated with Tea Party targeting scheme
Associated Press reports: The Internal Revenue Service has lost emails from five more employees who are part of congressional probes into the treatment of conservative groups that applied for tax-exempt status, the tax service disclosed on Friday.
The IRS said in June that it could not locate an untold number of emails to and from Lois Lerner, who headed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status during the time that the targeting of Tea Party groups occurred.
That revelation set off a new round of investigations and congressional hearings.
On Friday, the IRS issued a report to Congress saying the agency also lost emails from five other employees related to the probe, including two agents who worked in a Cincinnati office processing applications for tax-exempt status.
Not only did the IRS lose former former tax-exempt director Lois Lerner’s emails, it said today it lost the emails of five other employees associated with a Tea Party targeting scheme.
Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, left, talks with Republican Sen. John McCain, on Capitol Hill in Washington. After investigating the IRS for more than a year, the two senators said today that they disagree on whether the tax agency treated conservative groups worse than their liberal counterparts when they applied for tax-exempt status.
The disclosure came on the same day the Senate’s subcommittee on investigations released competing reports on how the IRS handled applications from political groups during the 2010 and 2012 elections.
The Democratic report, released by Sen. Carl Levin of Michigan, said both liberal and conservative groups were mistreated, revealing no political bias by the IRS. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: September 1, 2014 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News | Tags: Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Judicial Watch, Lerner, Lois Lerner, Office of Labor-Management Standards, OLMS, Trade union, Twitter
Connor D. Wolf reports: The official at the center of the Internal Revenue Service tea party scandal once dismissed complaints that labor unions were not reporting millions of dollars in political activities on their tax forms, according to an email obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
“We believe this difference in reporting does not necessarily indicate that the organization has incorrectly reported to either the DOL or the IRS.”
In 2007, Lerner responded directly to a complaint that some major labor unions reported completely different amounts of political expenditures when filing with the IRS and the Department of Labor.
At the time of the email, Lerner was the Director of Exempt Organizations at the IRS. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 28, 2014 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, U.S. News | Tags: Disbarment, District of Columbia Court of Appeals, Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Office of Professional Responsibility, Takisha McGee, The Florida Bar, Washington Times
When News Becomes Parody: The IRS Supervisor of Promoting Moral Values is Accused of Swindling
For Washington Times, August 26th, Jim McElhatton:
A lawyer in the IRS ethics office is facing the possibility of being disbarred, according to records that accuse her of lying to a court-appointed board and hiding what she’d done with money from a settlement that was supposed to go to two medical providers who had treated her client.
The disciplinary arm of the D.C. Court of Appeals has recommended that Takisha McGee, a section manager in the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility, lose her law license over the charge, which stems from a personal injury case she worked about a year before she joined the tax agency.
Ms. McGee, who recently gave a speech to the Florida bar titled “When your license to practice before the IRS is on the line,” acknowledged in a phone interview Tuesday that her own job is on the line as she fights disbarment proceedings…. (read more) Washington Times
And in an editorial on August 27th, the Washington Times continues:
Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen testifies under subpoena before the House Oversight Committee as lawmakers continue their probe of whether tea party groups were improperly targeted for increased scrutiny by the IRS, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Monday, June 23, 2014. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
The Tax Man’s Ethics
Posted: August 26, 2014 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics | Tags: Charles Krauthammer, George Will, Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Judicial Watch, Lois Lerner, National Review, Obama administration, Richard Nixon, United States Department of Justice
Okay, George didn’t say Cuckoo Bananas Off the Rails Criminally Insane, he just said off the rails and it is thoroughly corrupted. But, you get the idea…
“The IRS is the most intrusive and potentially punitive institution of the federal government and it is a law-enforcement institution and it is off the rails and it is now thoroughly corrupted.”
— George Will
From The Corner:
On Tuesday’s Special Report, George Will reacted to the revelation that the IRS destroyed Lois Lerner’s BlackBerry without searching it, after a congressional investigation into her conduct had begun.
[SMIDGEN REPORT: Federal Attorney Says Backup of Lois Lerner Emails Exist]
[SMIDGEN BOMB: There Are No Missing Lois Lerner E-mails, Justice Department Concedes ]
Will said he could hardly wait for IRS lawyers to show up in court and tell the judge it would be too onerous to stop obstructing justice in this case. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted: August 26, 2014 Filed under: Crime & Corruption, Law & Justice, Mediasphere, Politics, U.S. News | Tags: BlackBerry, Chief information officer, Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Judicial Watch, Lerner, Lois Lerner, Stephen Manning, United States Congress
IRS Destroyed Lois Lerner Blackberry When? AFTER Congressional Inquiry Began, That’s When.
NRO‘s Ian Tuttle reports: According to the second round of IRS affidavits submitted to U.S. district court judge Emmett Sullivan, who is presiding over the lawsuit brought against the nation’s tax agency by watchdog group Judicial Watch, Inc., IRS technical analysts did not search Lois Lerner’s Blackberry for her allegedly “lost” e-mails — and the smartphone was destroyed after congressional investigation had begun.
“There is no record of any attempt by any IRS IT employee to recover data from any Blackberry device assigned to Lois Lerner in response to the Congressional investigations or this litigation.”
— Stephen Manning, IRS Information Technology business unit
Lerner’s government-issued laptop reportedly crashed in June 2011, at which time IRS analysts tried but failed to recover data, including e-mail communications, according to previous testimony. In his sworn declaration, Stephen Manning – deputy chief information officer for strategy and modernization with the IRS Information Technology business unit – reports that “there is no record of any attempt by any IRS IT employee to recover data from any Blackberry device assigned to Lois Lerner in response to the Congressional investigations or this litigation.” This despite the fact that Lerner had been in possession of a government-issued Blackberry since November 2009, according to the statement of Thomas J. Kane – deputy associate chief counsel for procedure and administration within the IRS Office of Chief Counsel – and it would likely have hosted at least some of Lerner’s electronic communications….(read more)
Read the rest of this entry »