February 4: Associated Press: Republicans getting resistence from their party on corporate tax reductions:
Republicans face opposition to their plan to overhaul the way corporations pay federal taxes from within their own party. Senator Hatch (R-UT) said "I'm not very enthused about it." Another skeptic is John Cornyn (R-TX), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate. Republican solidarity will be a key to success in passing this bill.
Seeking to overhaul the tax code for the first time in 30 years, the House GOP plan would scrap the 35% corporate tax rate and replace it with something called a "border adjustment tax." Under the proposed system American companies that produce and sell their products in the U.S. would pay a new 20 percent tax. If a company exports a product, the profits from that sale would not be taxed by the U.S. Foreign companies that import goods to the U.S. would also have to pay the tax. The proposal could help American workers and exporters while driving up the price for imported goods.
December 12: Bloomberg:Senate Majority Leader McConnell opposes Trump tax cuts and infrastructure spending:
President-elect Donald Trump’s race to enact the biggest tax cuts since the 1980s went under a caution flag Monday as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell warned he considers current levels of U.S. debt “dangerous” and said he wants any tax overhaul to avoid adding to the deficit. “I think this level of national debt is dangerous and unacceptable,” McConnell said, adding he hopes Congress doesn’t lose sight of that when it acts next year. “My preference on tax reform is that it be revenue neutral,” he said.
During a news conference, McConnell also poured cold water on the idea of a massive stimulus package, effectively laying out markers on taxes and spending that that could cramp Trump’s ambitions.
September 15: The Daily Signal: Why the Congressional Freedom Caucus Cut a Deal with the GOP Leadership not to Impeach the IRS Chief:
Late Wednesday night, the House Freedom Caucus was just hours away from forcing a historic vote on impeaching IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Instead, the conservative lawmakers brokered a deal with the House’s Republican leadership to postpone a vote and hold a hearing.
By introducing a special resolution to impeach Koskinen, the Freedom Caucus had bypassed the normal committee process and triggered criticism from centrist Republicans that the caucus was denying Koskinen his right to due process. The deal brokered with the GOP leadership requires Koskinen to testify under oath at a hearing. If he fails to do so then the impeachment would move forward and “centrists” in the party would have no reason to complain.
August 30: The Washington Times:IRS doesn’t tell 1M taxpayers that illegals stole their Social Security numbers
The IRS has discovered more than 1 million Americans whose Social Security numbers were stolen by illegal immigrants, but officials never bothered to tell the taxpayers themselves, the agency’s inspector general said in a withering new report released Tuesday. Investigators first alerted the IRS to the problem five years ago, but it’s still not fixed, the inspector general said, and a pilot program meant to test a solution was canceled — and fell woefully short anyway.
As a result, most taxpayers don’t learn that their identities have been stolen and their Social Security files may be screwed up. “Taxpayers identified as victims of employment-related identity theft are not notified,” the inspector general said.
August 9: News Max:Justice Dept: Obama Donor Investigated IRS Targeting:
Last week we also released a remarkable letter from the Justice Department admitting that Democratic Party/Obama campaign donor and Justice Department attorney Barbara Bosserman spent 1,529.25 hours investigating the IRS’ targeting of conservative organizations in 2010 and 2012. According to Federal Election Commission records, Bosserman contributed $6,750 to Obama campaigns and the DNC from 2004 to 2012, including 12 separate contributions to Obama for America between 2008 and 2012. The Obama Justice Department and FBI investigations into the Obama IRS scandal resulted in no criminal charges.
August 5: The Daily Caller:Federal Judge Says IRS is Still Targeting TEA Party with Classsic “Catch-22”
A federal appeals court unanimously confirmed Friday that IRS officials targeted Tea Party and conservative non-profit applicants, with one of the judges calling the tax agency’s actions indefensible. “It being plain to the Inspector General, the District Court, and this court that the IRS cannot defend its discriminatory conduct on the merits,” U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit Judge David B. Sentelle wrote.
The court overturned a previous decision that said IRS employees proved they had stopped sending Tea Party tax exemption applications into what one agency manager called a “black hole.” The three-judge panel did, however, agree that Tea Party groups couldn’t sue individual IRS officials.
August 2: Sunshine State News: IRS Targeting, Remember? DOJ Allowed A Flawed Investigation
Conservative Washington, D.C.-based watchdog Judicial Watch today released a letter from the Justice Department admitting a Democratic Party/Obama campaign donor and Justice Department attorney spent more than 1,529 hours investigating the IRS targeting conservative organizations in 2010 and 2012. According to Federal Election Commission records, Barbara Bosserman contributed $6,750. Anyone expecting the Obama Justice Department and FBI investigations into the Obama IRS scandal to result in criminal charges were sorely mistaken. There were none -- not even one.
The letter results from a Judicial Watch Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) appeal filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Feb. 16, 2016, which sought to overturn a lower court’s ruling allowing the Department of Justice to withhold these records. After more than two years, the Justice Department agreed to identify the number of hours just prior to the scheduling of oral arguments, during which the agency would have had to justify the withholding of the information.
August 2: Charisma News:FBI Knew About IRS Targeting in 2013
Judicial Watch took a brief diversion from their usual political attacks on Hillary Clinton. Their new targets are former IRS employee Lois Lerner and IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. Monday afternoon, Judicial Watch released a series of documents that provide the most concrete evidence to-date the IRS engaged in an "deliberate policy of burying conservative groups' tax exemption applications" in bureaucratic delays. More than 100 documents were released by the watchdog. These documents, called "302 documents," are detailed narratives prepared by FBI agents who are conducting an investigation. In particular, these documents focus on the IRS office in Cincinnati, Ohio, and a 2010 program in which Tea Party and other conservative group tax exempt applications would not be approved before the November 2012 presidential election. [Bill Sargent disclosed the IRS targeting at a candidate forum in Jefferson County in March 2012 | Press Release]
July 16: The Daily Signal: House Conservatives Pressure Leadership to Consider Impeaching the IRS Boss:
The House Freedom Caucus has launched a pressure play against Republican leadership in an effort to force a vote on impeaching John Koskinen, commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. Before Congress skipped town Thursday for a seven-week recess, Congressmen Huelskamp (R-KS) and Fleming (R-LA) filed a privileged resolution on behalf of the Freedom Caucus. Huelskamp said Conservatives hope that populist opposition to the IRS in congressional districts will translate into support for impeachment on Capitol Hill. When Congress returns from recess Sept. 6., lawmakers have two legislative days to vote on either impeaching Koskinen or tabling the measure.
Huelskamp said, “It [impeachment of the IRS Commissioner] raises a fundamental question: Are folks in Washington above the law? … …If Congress is going to matter in our constitutional republic, you can’t have members of the administration lying, misleading, and stonewalling Congress.” Jason Chaffetz [R-UT] officially began the impeachment process and since then, conservatives have regularly complained that the House leadership has slowed work on impeachment in committee.
June 5: The Washington Times:IRS Finally Reveals list of TEA Party groups that were targeted:
More than three years after it admitted to targeting tea party groups for intrusive scrutiny, the IRS has finally released a near-complete list of the organizations it snagged in a political dragnet. The tax agency filed the list last month as part of a court case after a series of federal judges, fed up with what they said was the agency’s stonewalling, ordered it to get a move on. The case is a class-action lawsuit, so the list of names is critical to knowing the scope of those who would have a claim against the IRS. But even as it answers some questions, the list raises others, including exactly when the targeting stopped, and how broadly the tax agency drew its net when it went after nonprofits for unusual scrutiny.
The government released names of 426 organizations. Another 40 were not released as part of the list because they had already opted out of being part of the class-action suit. That total is much higher than the 298 groups the IRS ‘ inspector general identified back in May 2013, when investigators first revealed the agency had been subjecting applications to long — potentially illegal — delays, and forcing them to answer intrusive questions about their activities. Tea party and conservative groups said they was the target of unusually heavy investigations and longer delays. There are some indications that left-leaning groups were added to the dragnet once the IRS realized they were being investigated.
May 24: CNN: House Republicans lay out the case for impeaching the IRS Commissioner
Republican lawmakers in the House used a Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday to push for impeachment of Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen for what they see as his breaching "every single duty he had." Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz and Florida Rep. Ron DeSantis, who are both GOP members of the committee, said there are grounds to remove Koskinen based on what they called his dishonesty and betrayal of the public trust. The hearing is the result an investigation into whether the IRS improperly targeted tea party and other conservative groups. "Commissioner Koskinen had several duties. He breached every single duty he had," said Ohio Republican Rep. Jim Jordan said.
Koskinen was invited to attend the hearing but did not. The hearing turned into a highly partisan debate with Democrats arguing that there is no ground for impeachment. GOP critics said Koskinen allowed back-up tapes containing potentially 24,000 emails to be destroyed while failing to inform Congress of the destruction of the tapes in a timely manner. Republicans argued that he gave false testimony before Congress regarding the back-up tapes and refused to correct the record when given the opportunity. The emails involved Lois Lerner, the IRS official at the center of the allegations that the agency targeted conservative groups. The Justice Department in October closed its two-year investigation into the case, declining to bring charges against anyone at the agency.
April 20: The Hill:House Votes to Restrict IRS hiring and funding
The House passed two bills on Wednesday that place restrictions on the Internal Revenue Service’s hiring and spending as part of a package of legislation aimed at reining in the agency. The measures passed largely along party lines. The Obama administration has said it opposes the bills and explicitly threatened to veto one of them.
The first of the two measures approved Wednesday, by a vote of 254-170, would prevent the IRS from hiring new employees until the Treasury Department either certifies that no agency employees have seriously delinquent tax debt or issues a report explaining why it cannot make that certification.
The second passed by a vote of 245-179 and would prevent the IRS from spending the user fees it collects without approval from Congress. Republicans have expressed concerns about how the IRS spends user fees in light of a GAO report that found the agency spent significantly less user fee receipts on customer service in 2015 than it did the year before. Some of the user fee receipts were instead allocated to fund technology investments to implement ObamaCare.
April 15: WOKV-Jacksonville News:Congressmen renewing call for impeachment of IRS Commissioner on Targeting Scandal
A pair of Jacksonville Congressmen are renewing the push to impeach the current head of the IRS for lying about using audits as a means of punishing conservative-leaning organizations. In a speech during a special order on the House floor Congressman DeSantis (R-FL) urged his fellow lawmakers to reconsider a resolution against John Koskinen that was introduced in the House last October. Fellow Republican Ted Yoho joined DeSantis in that announcement, as did 3 other House representatives.
Koskinen allegedly failed to comply with congressional subpoenas, lied under oath and didn't tell Congress that key evidence had gone missing in the IRS illicit targeting scandal uncovered in 2013. "We are supposed to be the people’s representatives," DeSantis noted. "We are supposed to be able to do justice for them when the government is not acting appropriately. [There is] no excuse for our failure to discharge our basic constitutional duties.”
April 5: The Hill:Treasury Tax Crackdown Creates Waves
The Treasury Department's crackdown on tax inversions reverberated through the political and corporate worlds on Tuesday. Both Democratic White House hopefuls endorsed the effort from President Obama's administration. Obama himself showed up at the White House briefing room to tout the new proposals, which are meant to prevent a company from lowering its tax bill by moving its headquarters overseas after merging with a smaller company. Such corporations usually change little beyond their official addresses.
“When companies exploit loopholes like this, it makes it harder to invest in the things that are going to keep America’s economy going strong for future generations,” he said. What he left out was that it is his policies that is causing the problem.
April 2: The Daily Caller: Whistleblower Alleges Vast Abuse within the IRS Union
Unionized government tax collectors have been subjected to consistent abuse and corruption from their labor representatives, according to an inside source. Attorney Jane Kim has worked for the IRS in New York for roughly 12 years. She alleges that in her time working for the tax collection agency, she has seen rampant abuse and corruption from the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU). She tried to expose the abuse, only to be ignored by officials at every level of the union.
“I mean it’s like Jimmy Hoffa-level of abuse and corruption,” Kim said. She corresponded with Colleen Kelley, the union’s national president and Kim says Kelley basically told her “to go to hell even though I’m telling her all these unbelievable abuses going on here.” Kim contends she saw how the union divided agency employees into a caste-like system. The employees who did the union’s bidding got special treatment, while everyone else was emotionally abused and ransacked with legal complaints if they spoke out.
January 22: The Daily Caller:Chaffetz and Jordan go Ballistic when they learn the IRS
wiped clean yet another hard drive
Leading members of Congress are ripping IRS officials for erasing a computer hard drive after a federal judge ordered it to be preserved. “The destruction of evidence subject to preservation orders and subpoenas has been an ongoing problem under your leadership at the IRS,” Committee on House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), wrote in a letter to IRS Commissioner Koskinen.
“It is stunning to see that the IRS does not take reasonable care to preserve documents that it is legally required to protect,” Chaffetz and Jordan said. The IRS recently admitted in court to erasing the hard drive even though a federal judge had issued a preservation related to a Microsoft Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the federal tax agency last year, according to court documents. Microsoft accuses the IRS of inappropriately hiring an outside law firm to audit it and of failing to hand over related documents requested under the FOIA.
November 3: Americans for Tax Reform:Mismanagement Responsible for Latest Data Breach
While addressing the American Institute of CPAs, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen today repeated an excuse that he has made throughout the year – that the agency's poor performance is due to a lack of resources. As reported by Politico Pro’s Katy O'Donnell, Koskinen claimed that the data breach earlier this year that exposed the personal information of 330,000 taxpayers was a timely reminder that the agency needed “adequate resources.” In reality, the data breach did not occur because of lack of money. Instead, fault lies with the agency’s failure to heed countless watchdog warnings, and properly allocate resources.
Since 2007, the IRS has been warned at least seven times by watchdog groups that it needed to strengthen its protections of taxpayer information. If the IRS had implemented these recommendations, taxpayer information would be better protected and the hack may have been prevented. As TIGTA Chief J. Russell George said during a past Senate Finance Committee hearing, “It would have been much more difficult had they (IRS) implemented all of the recommendations that we made.”
October 9: The Daily Signal:
Meet a Single Mom who took on the IRS
Sabina Loving always knew she wanted to work for herself. When an abandoned storefront was renovated and became available for rent across the street from her house in 2010, she decided she would operate her budding tax-preparation business out of it. As fate would have it that is what happened. Loving launched Loving Tax Services, grew her client list, and left her full-time job to pursue what she calls her “passion.” The Internal Revenue Service promptly slapped her with regulations. That “licensing conversation” went something like this: In 2011, the IRS sought to begin regulating the nation’s roughly 300,000 independent tax preparers based on an 1884 statute called the Dead Horse Act. The IRS argued that the 127-year-old law, enacted before the nation had an income tax, allowed them to extend current rules to tax preparers. Critics, arguing that tax preparers already were strictly regulated, called it overstepping. By law, roughly one-quarter of all American workers must have a license to do their job, a fivefold increase from the 1950s, according to a recent White House report.
Loving says the unexpected IRS regulations threatened the core of her business, since she wasn’t able to hire employees and expand. At the time, she estimates, the new regulations cost her several hundred dollars to a thousand dollars per employee. Loving and two other tax preparers sued the IRS. Last year, she won the case, Loving v. Commissioner. “The IRS invented out of whole cloth these regulations, and did not actually have the statutory authority to implement them,” Loving’s lawyer said. “Both the U.S. District Court here in D.C. and the D.C. Circuit agreed with us, and the IRS decided not to appeal to the Supreme Court.”
September 16: The Hill:Senate GOP Balks at Proposal to Give IRS increased authority
Senate Republicans are balking a proposal giving the IRS more power to regulate paid tax preparers, undercutting consideration of a broader measure aimed at battling tax refund fraud. Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) officially pulled back on his committee's consideration of the tax measure on Wednesday morning, just hours before the mark-up was scheduled to begin.
Several Republicans on the committee said the central reason for the delay was objections to the proposal to give the IRS more authority in the wake of the agency's singling out of Tea Party groups. "There wasn't a lot of discussion beforehand, and I think Sen. Hatch was maybe a little bit surprised at the questions that had been raised about extending IRS authority to regulate tax preparers," said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), a member of the tax-writing panel. "So we're going back to the drawing board."
August 31: Fox News: Judge tells the IRS it can’t hide White House Emails
White House emails to the IRS about individual tax returns cannot be exempted by the embattled agency under the Freedom of Information Act, a federal judge ruled Friday. United States District Court for the District of Columbia Judge Amy Berman Jackson ruled that Section 6103 of the tax code does not justify the IRS from withholding from FOIA requesters by refusing to say whether the records exist. She ordered the IRS to respond properly to an FOIA request submitted by the non-profit watchdog group Cause of Action. “As we have said all along, this administration cannot misinterpret the law in order to potentially hide evidence of wrongdoing. No administration is above the law, and we are pleased that the court has sided with us on this important point,” said Daniel Bernstein, executive director of Cause of Action.
August 25: Fox News:Lerner’s secret personal email address was perfect cover
Former top IRS official Lois Lerner – at the center of a well-orchestrated scheme targeting conservative organizations – used an alias while at the IRS. In new documents just released, an IRS attorney has confirmed that Lois Lerner used another email to conduct IRS business – under the name of “Toby Miles.” That revelation prompts this question: why would the director of the Exempt Organizations Unit use an alias – a secret, personal email account while at the IRS?
You don’t have to think very long to come up with the answer. Lois Lerner – who was permitted to retire from the agency with a reported $100,000 a year pension paid by taxpayers – is under investigation by Congress for her role in unlawfully targeting and discriminating against conservative organizations. We know that Lerner used her official IRS email to participate in the orchestration of this targeting scheme – even plotting with the Department of Justice (DOJ) to fabricate evidence – to, as she put it, “piece together false statement cases” so the DOJ could launch criminal prosecutions of law-abiding citizens in the absence of any complaints or evidence of wrongdoing.
August 24: The Washington Times:IRS Finds Another Lois Lerner Email Account:
Lois Lerner had yet another personal email account used to conduct some official IRS business. The tax agency confirmed this fact in a new court filing late Monday that further complicates the administration’s efforts to be “transparent” about Lerner’s actions during the tea party targeting scandal. The admission came in an open-records lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch, a conservative public interest law firm that has sued to get a look at emails Lerner sent during the targeting scandal.
IRS lawyer Geoffrey J. Klimas told the court that as the agency was putting together a set of documents to turn over when it realized Lerner had used yet another email account, in addition to her official one and another personal one already known to the agency. “In addition to emails to or from an email account denominated ‘Lois G. Lerner ‘ or ‘Lois Home,’ some emails responsive to Judicial Watch’s request may have been sent to or received from a personal email account denominated ‘Toby Miles,’” Mr. Klimas told Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who is hearing the case. It is unclear who Miles is but Klimas said the IRS has concluded that was “a personal email account used by Lerner.” The President of Judicial Watch said it was stunning the agency was just now admitting the existence of this email address.
August 14: Fox News: Dairy Farmer Fights the IRS for “milking” him out of $30,000
Randy Sowers built his dairy farm over three decades into a thriving business. After kick-starting with a $100,000 loan, today the South Mountain Creamery has 1,000 cows and 70 employees delivering milk, ice cream and other products to homes in the Washington, D.C., area. But the Maryland farmer’s operation suffered a big setback when the IRS swooped in to seize tens of thousands of hard-earned dollars from his account, claiming he violated an obscure banking law.
And despite the federal agency all but admitting the law they used to seize the cash is flawed Sowers is still fighting to get his money back. He was targeted by the IRS under a controversial policy concerning the size of bank transactions. Banks are supposed to fill out extensive paperwork for every cash transaction over $10,000 – but to intentionally keep transactions under that threshold can be a violation called “structuring.”
August 9: News One:Bipartisan Report: IRS Targeted Conservatives
The Internal Revenue Service specifically went after conservative organizations applying for tax-exempt status, according to a bipartisan report released by
the Senate Finance Committee Thursday.Such discriminatory action taken by the IRS against conservative grassroots groups is unconstitutional, the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) reports, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who serves as the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee says that there is plenty of proof against the government agency to prove it. “This bipartisan investigation shows gross mismanagement at the highest levels of the IRS and confirms an unacceptable truth: that the IRS is prone to abuse,” Hatch asserts. “The Committee found evidence that the administration’s political agenda guided the IRS’s actions with respect to their treatment of conservative groups.”
The Republican from Utah points out that partisan motivations should play no part in the way the IRS conducts its operations.“Personal politics of IRS employees, such as Lois Lerner, also impacted how the IRS conducted its business,” Hatch argued. “American taxpayers should expect more from the IRS and deserve an IRS that lives up to its mission statement of administering the tax laws fairly and impartially — regardless of political affiliation.” The senator vowed to take actions to ensure that such political maneuvering is not a recurring problem at the IRS.
July 29: The Daily Caller: Federal Judge to the IRS: I will hold the Commissioner in Contempt:
A federal judge is threatening to hold IRS commissioner John Koskinen in contempt for his agency’s failure to turn over emails sent by disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner. “I will haul into court the IRS Commissioner to hold him personally into contempt,” U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan said Wednesday in a hearing related to the nonprofit group Judicial Watch’s lawsuit against the IRS for Lerner’s emails.
Sullivan issued an order July 1 requiring the IRS and its legal representatives at the Department of Justice to brief his court with “status reports” on the search for Lerner’s emails. Though the IRS recently found more emails, the agency did not give Sullivan a status report. Sullivan called the IRS’ inability to follow his order “indefensible, ridiculous, and absurd.” Sullivan also threatened to hold Department of Justice attorneys in contempt. The IRS claims that Lerner’s computer crashed, erasing her emails, during the period in which she was improperly targeting conservative groups. Lerner was already held in contempt by Congress, but still has not forked over her emails.
July 27: The Hill: House to Obama: Fire your IRS Chief
House Republicans will call on President Obama to fire IRS Commissioner John Koskinen on Monday – or threaten to try and remove him themselves, congressional aides said. Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) and other GOP members of the Oversight panel will discuss their efforts later on Monday. Koskinen took over the IRS late in 2013, more than six months after the agency acknowledged improperly scrutinizing Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status. The IRS chief said at the time he hoped to restore the trust of taxpayers – and congressional Republicans – in the agency. But GOP lawmakers have increasingly turned against him in the last 18 months, particularly after the IRS acknowledged that it couldn't find an untold number of emails from former official Lois Lerner.
Lerner, who first apologized for the agency's treatment of Tea Party groups, became the central figure of the IRS controversy, after declining to answer questions in front of the House Oversight Committee. In a video released Monday, Oversight Republicans accused the IRS of doing a shoddy job of searching for Lerner's missing emails, and suggested that Koskinen had misled Congress about the IRS's efforts to find the emails. They also said that Koskinen might have misled Congress when he told lawmakers – before the IRS disclosed that Lerner's emails were missing – that the agency would hand over all her documents. "Their failings leave the American people in the dark about how their First Amendment rights were trampled upon," the Oversight video said. "There must be accountability."
July 22: The DC Caller:New Emails: IRS Targeted Conservative Donors:
Bombshell new emails reveal that the Obama administration’s IRS used donor lists of nonprofit groups to target donors, and specifically vowed to target the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The emails, obtained by Judicial Watch, show that Obama’s IRS conspired to revive the “gift tax” — a tax on 501(c)(4) donors that had not been enforced since 1982 following a Supreme Court ruling that effectively invalidated it. Emails between IRS officials show that the agency referred to Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS while discussing how to enforce their new gift tax on donors. On April 20, 2011, IRS lawyer Lorraine Garder emailed a donor list for a nonprofit group to James Hogan, a manager in the IRS’ Chief Counsel’s office. Judicial Watch noted that the disclosure of the redacted group’s donor list occurred during the period in which officials were discussing Crossroads GPS.
July 7: The New York Post:It Gets Worse: IRS also targeted prosecutions against conservative groups: So the Obama IRS wasn’t just persecuting right-leaning nonprofits — it was out to prosecute them, too. And with the help of the Obama Department of Justice and FBI. Via Freedom of Information Act lawsuits, the watchdog group Judicial Watch just got evidence of the plot. A “DOJ Recap” on an Oct. 8, 2010 meeting tells how officials from the three agencies discussed “several possible theories to bring criminal charges under FEC law” against groups “posing” as tax-exempt nonprofits. As part of the project, the IRS handed the FBI 21 computer disks with 1.23 million pages of confidential IRS returns from 113,000 nonprofit 501(c)(4) groups — nearly every 501(c)(4). This, though federal law generally bans the IRS from sharing such data.
The evidence shows “that the Obama IRS scandal is also an Obama DOJ and FBI scandal,” noted Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The FBI and Justice Department worked with Lois Lerner and the IRS to concoct some reason to put President Obama’s opponents in jail before his re-election. And this abuse resulted in the FBI’s illegally obtaining confidential taxpayer information.” [See Related story at Townhall.com]
June 30: Politico:IRS Lawyer Now Heads Clinton Email Production:
May be slow walking the release of the documents:
A year ago, Catherine Duval was embroiled in the scandal over former IRS official Lois Lerner’s lost emails. Now the top government attorney is heading up another document project in the cross hairs of Congress: the State Department’s release of Hillary Clinton’s emails and Libya documents to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. GOP investigators are raising red flags, accusing her and the State Department of stonewalling Congress by narrowly interpreting document requests and failing to disclose important information.
“The person in charge of document production at two different places on two different scandals has not been completely straightforward with us,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a top IRS and Benghazi investigator, in an interview. “She was at the IRS when there was a preservation order and subpoena — and documents were destroyed. She is now at the State Department, where we were supposed to get [certain] information, and we know that some of the emails were not given.”
June 14: The Daily Caller: IRS finds 6,400 new Lois Learner emails, won’t release them The Internal Revenue Service found 6,400 more Lois Lerner emails — but they’re not handing them over in court jut yet. The IRS’ latest excuses are nothing short of infuriating. Department of Justice lawyers Geoffrey J. Klimas and Stephanie Sasarak, acting as counsel for the IRS, submitted a U.S. District Court filing June 12 in the case Judicial Watch v. Internal Revenue Service. The court filing, provided to The Daily Caller, claims the IRS received new Lerner emails from the Treasury Department’s inspector general (TIGTA) but can’t fork over the emails to Judicial Watch, a nonprofit group suing to get the emails. Why? Because the IRS is busy making sure that none of the emails are duplicates – you know, so as not to waste anyone’s time.
May 19: Fox News: Is aRouge 4th Branch of Government is Threatening Us?
Two years ago this month, we learned of the burgeoning scandal at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – the deliberate targeting of conservative and Tea Party groups – a coordinated move to keep these groups on the sidelines during a critical election. We are in federal court representing dozens of targeted groups and continue to seek justice in this case. But over the course of the two years when the scandal broke, one thing has become very clear: unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats were at the center of this scheme. What’s equally troubling – there’s been no accountability. Not one person has been fired. Zero. The IRS, along with a long list of other agencies, is run by bureaucrats. And these bureaucrats destroy our liberty and threaten our democracy. Consider this and others like:
A Veterans Administration scandal delaying life-saving health care treatment for thousands of our nation’s veterans.
A Department of Health and Human Services abortion-pill mandate forcing employers to violate their religious beliefs.
Climate-change regulations from the Environmental Protection Agency killing jobs and stifling the economy.
National Labor Relations Board rules favoring unions bosses over American workers.
From 2009 to the end of 2012, the federal government’s bureaucracy created more than 13,000 new regulations – each with the binding force of law. And according to a new report, federal agencies issued 3,554 new regulations in 2014 alone.
May 12: Fox News: Store owner still numb after IRS Freezes $107,000 in Bank Account
When federal agents stormed into Lyndon McLellan's North Carolina convenience store last October without warning and accused him of trying to put one over on the government, the small business owner wasn't sure what was happening. "They asked me if I knew what 'structuring' was and then they showed me some cash deposits I made in a 24-hour period," he told FoxNews.com. The IRS agents apparently were suspicious because of deposits McLellan had made of just under $10,000. Banks are required to report transactions over $10,000; making multiple deposits of less than $10,000 to evade that requirement is known as "structuring." Under this pretense, enforcement agents accused McLellan of the con and seized all $107,000 from his bank account.
McLellan is one of many business owners who have been caught up in a controversial federal practice known as civil forfeiture. Under this policy, federal agents have been able to seize the property and bank accounts of anyone they suspect of having criminal ties. The burden of proof falls on the owner even if no charges are filed. Under pressure, the IRS last October said it would no longer go after structuring cases unless the money in question could be tied to some other illegal activity. The DOJ changed its policy in March. The problem, though, is that the new policy isn't retroactive, meaning McLellan might still have to pay up.
May 1: Fox News:George Soros May Face Up to $7 Billion Tax Bill
George Soros may soon face a monumental tax bill -- of nearly $7 billion -- after years of playing hard-to-get with the IRS. Despite Soros having advocated for higher taxes on the wealthy, the liberal billionaire reportedly has delayed paying his own for years thanks to a loophole in U.S. law. That loophole was closed by Congress in 2008. But before that, Bloomberg reports, Soros used it to defer taxes on client fees. Instead, he reinvested them in his own fund, and they grew tax-free. According to Bloomberg, Soros moved assets shortly before the change to Ireland, seen as a possible shelter from the law. But tax attorneys told Bloomberg they don't know of a way for money managers to avoid the bill in 2017.
April 19: The Tribune Reporter: The Gathering Storm: An IRS Defeat
Attempting to obscure the extent of its alleged targeting of conservative groups, the Internal Revenue Service has been smacked with a serious setback in its court fight in Ohio. A federal judge granted a motion compelling the IRS to list the 298 targeted organizations, which the IRS had identified for the Treasury Department inspector general. In a lawsuit filed in 2013, 10 conservative groups, through discovery, have been trying to pry free the list of all groups targeted by the IRS. Getting this information could open the door to a class action suit against the IRS.
Both the IRS and the Department of Justice had tried to keep a lid on this boiling pot by arguing that a federal statute protects the confidentiality of tax-return information. But if the Justice lawyers had more carefully read the law, they would have found that the statute includes an exemption for tax information “directly related to an issue in” a judicial proceeding. The identities of all targeted organizations are directly related to this case, the Judge said. As a result, the IRS has been ordered to turn over all charts, lists and spreadsheets of groups that had tax-exemption applications “flagged” by the IRS. The discernible rumbling of distant thunder portends the gathering storm that is going to rain down on the IRS.
April 11: The Daily Signal: Federal Judge in Ohio hands the IRS and DOJ Another Defeat
on the IRS Targeting Scandal
At almost the same time last week that the outgoing U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, Ronald Machen, gave Lois Lerner a get-out-of-jail free card over her contempt of Congress citation, the Justice Department and the Internal Revenue Service suffered a huge procedural loss in a court fight in Ohio. In litigation filed in 2013 by conservative organizations targeted by Lerner and the IRS, a federal judge granted a motion compelling the IRS to produce the names of the 298 targeted organizations identified by the IRS for the Treasury Inspector General.
The Ohio group describes themselves as organizations “comprised of individual citizens who have joined together to exercise their rights to freedom of speech and expression” and who “dissent from the policies or ideology of the” current administration. They claimed that, on the basis of their beliefs, they had been subjected “to delays and intrusive scrutiny during the tax-exempt status application process.” According to the ten plaintiffs, this violated the Privacy Act, the First and Fifth Amendments, and a federal statute that protects the confidentiality of tax return information [Section§6103 of the IRS Code].
On April 1, in Judge Dlott granted the plaintiffs’ motion compellling the IRS to produce: (1) All charts, lists, spreadsheets or indexes of groups that had their Applications for Tax Exemption selected or flagged by the IRS for heightened review based on an infamous BOLO (Be On the Look Out) edict issued by IRS officials; (2) the document listing the 298 organizations that the IRS sent the Inspector General on June 11, 2012; and (3) the document titled “Advocacy Case Tracking Sheet” that the IRS sent the Inspector General on the same date. She also ordered the IRS to either admit or deny the authenticity of an IRS document obtained by USA Today and publicized in a story on Sept. 18, 2013 that listed 162 groups that were flagged because of their “anti-Obama rhetoric, inflammatory language, and emotional statements.” It is highly likely that once the plaintiffs in this case receive and review this information they may have what they need to make this a class action against the IRS/DOJ for its attempt to suppress speech critical of Obama administration policies. April 9: NewsMax.com:Judicial Watch Emails: Lernner Feared IRS Targeting Might Raise Questions Judicial Watch released more emails in the IRS targeting scandal Thursday, with these showing that former IRS supervisor Lois Lerner feared that the information used to single out tea party groups and other opponents of President Barack Obama for special scrutiny "might raise questions." "We understand why the criteria might raise questions," Lerner told Troy Paterson, the audit manager for the Treasury Department's Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), in an email dated Jan. 31, 2013. Paterson's investigators had questioned Lerner's agents in Cincinnati about the targeting for a report the inspector general released that spring.
The agents placed groups with words like "tea party and "patriot" in their names on a "be on the lookout" — or BOLO — list for additional screening of its applications for tax-exempt status. The 501(c)(4) status allows groups to keep their donors private.
"I'm not sure how [the TIGTA] investigators are looking at [whether] we were politically motivated, or what they are looking for with regard to targeting," Lerner told Paterson. "They didn't seem to understand the difference between IRS acting in a politically motivated manner and front-line staff people using less than stellar judgment," she added. "I am willing to take the blame for not having provided sufficient direction initially, which may have resulted in front-line staff doing things that appeared to be politically motivated." However, she said, "I am not on board that anything that occurred here shows that the IRS was politically motivated in the actions taken."
April 3: The Hill: Tax Filers sent the wrong Obamacare Form will not face penalties for late filing:
ObamaCare customers who received the wrong tax form from the federal government this spring will not face penalties if they miss the April 15 deadline, officials announced Friday. Anyone who has not yet been sent corrected tax forms and are “unable to file an accurate tax return” now have until Oct. 15 to file — as long as they request an extension. The government did not say how many people will be given extra time, though officials said in late March that 80,000 people were still waiting on their corrected tax forms. A total of 800,000 people had mailed the wrong forms.
April 2: Fox News: The IRS: No Justice from Justice Department
The Obama administration’s Internal Revenue Service is institutionally incapable of self-correction. And, now it is even clearer that the Obama administration’s Department of Justice is incapable of holding accountable those responsible for a massive illegal targeting scheme. Even worse, its own involvement in the scandal not only means that it can’t properly investigate the IRS, it should instead be investigated for cooperating with the IRS in its campaign of censorship and oppression.
The latest troubling development comes as the Justice Department announced it will not pursue criminal contempt charges against former top IRS official Lois Lerner – who’s at the center of a scandal that unlawfully targeted conservative and Tea Party groups because of their political views. Sadly, this conclusion, while disturbing, is not surprising. This latest development reflects what has become standard operating procedure for the Obama administration in its so-called “investigation” of this unlawful targeting scheme by the IRS. The Justice Department is making a mockery of our criminal justice system. It’s not independent. It was fully involved in the IRS targeting scheme.
April 1: The Hill: Justice Department Refuses to Prosecute Contempt of Congress Charges against Lerner
The Justice Department won’t follow up on the contempt of Congress charge against the former IRS official who first acknowledged the agency’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups. Lois Lerner will apparently get off scot free! Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney for Washington, told Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) in a letter dated Tuesday that Lerner did not waive her Fifth Amendment rights in her appearances before Congress and that it would be inappropriate for the Justice Department to bring the matter before a grand jury. The House voted to charge Lerner, who quickly became the central figure in the Tea Party controversy, with contempt in May 2014, after she twice invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before the Oversight Committee.
GOP lawmakers charged that Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment right by proclaiming her innocence during her first appearance in May 2013. But Machen rejected that assertion in his letter to Boehner, saying that Lerner “made only general claims of innocence.” In a statement, the U.S. attorney’s office stressed that career prosecutors made the decision to not bring charges against Lerner and that the Constitution gives the former IRS official “an absolute defense” against prosecution.
March 23: Forbes: Report Says Former IRS Employees – Think Lois Lerner – Can Still Peruse Your Tax Return:
Could Lois Lerner still take a look at your tax returns on IRS computers? It sounds preposterous, but a new watchdog report says former IRS employees still have access to IRS computer systems long after they have no official business with the information. The report is by the GAO, an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. The GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. In the case of IRS security, the report says not well.
This report cites significant deficiencies in the security of IRS financial reporting systems. Millions of Americans who are legally required to file taxes are fearful about fraud. The report says the IRS needs to continue improving controls over financial and taxpayer data. In the case of former IRS workers with continuing access to IRS data systems, they need to be cut off. One co-author of the report said the IRS horde of taxpayer data can be used by identity thieves. The timing couldn’t be worse for the IRS. The IRS is failing to secure its massive computer systems, leaving private taxpayer data vulnerable to fraudsters and hackers, the new report from the GAO reveals.
March 18: The Hill:Outgoing AUSA failed to act on Lerner Contempt Charges
Ronald Machen, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia appointed by President Obama and set to step down next month, has not acted on a contempt of Congress charge for former IRS official Lois Lerner. Machen, who announced at the beginning of the week he'd step down April 1 to return to private practice, has not referred Lerner's case to a grand jury. Her contempt citation for not testifying at two hearings has been in Machen's hands since May 2014. During Machen's five-year tenure as a top prosecutor, the largest U.S. Attorney's Office was dominated by cases related to financial fraud, national security and public corruption. His office prosecuted dozens of federal and local D.C. officials, including securing felony guilty pleas from three former D.C. council members. But unless he acts within the next two weeks, Machen will leave without taking action in the case of Lerner, who directed the IRS division that handled applications for tax-exempt status.
“Under Lois Lerner’s direction, the IRS became a political tool used to systematically target and undermine Americans’ First Amendment rights," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) who accused Machen of using "his own post for political ends" by not referring the case to a grand jury for months "as he is legally bound to do." "Hopefully his replacement will do what’s right and allow a grand jury to do its work. The American people deserve to know the truth about the IRS targeting scandal, and Lois Lerner’s testimony is key to uncovering that truth," Jordan added in a statement to The Hill.
March 18: The Washington Times: Obama Blames the IRS for bad ObamaCare Customer Service
The IRS is unable to answer most taxpayers’ calls this year because it’s had to put money into getting up and running for Obamacare, agency Commissioner John Koskinen told Congress on Wednesday. Koskinen said his agency has had to shift tens of millions of dollars from customer service over to build the computer systems and get ready to handle questions this year about Obamacare and the law’s tax penalty, which kicks in for the first time this year.
The commissioner said President Obama’s 2010 law requires the agency to handle Obamacare “taxes” but Congress has refused to provide any money, so he’s shifted user fees that used to go to customer service over to handle the Affordable Care Act and the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. “We knew, and it’s been true, that we would get a significant number of inquiries on the Affordable Care Act,” Koskinen told the House Appropriations Committee, which is considering how much money to give the tax agency for fiscal 2016. Apparently the IRS is answering just 43 percent of taxpayers’ calls so far this year, which is a huge drop in customer service for the agency. Congress has cut the agency’s funding, in part as a signal of disapproval of the IRS’s activities such as the targeting of TEA Party group’s applications for nonprofit status.
February 26: The Washington Times: Lerner Missing Emails Now Subject of Criminal Investigtion
The IRS’s inspector general confirmed Thursday it is conducting a criminal investigation into how Lois Lerner’s emails disappeared, saying it took only two weeks for investigators to find hundreds of tapes the agency’s chief had told Congress were irretrievably destroyed. Investigators have already scoured 744 backup tapes and gleaned 32,774 unique emails, but just two weeks ago they found an additional 424 tapes that could contain even more Lerner emails, Deputy Inspector General Tim Camus told the House Oversight Committee in a rare late-night hearing meant to look into the status of the investigation. “There is potential criminal activity,” Camus said.
February 18: Tax Professor Blog: The IRS Scandal: Day 650 Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday he expects the Justice Department to soon release a list of final recommendations stemming from its probe into whether the Internal Revenue Service wrongfully targeted conservative groups. "I am satisfied with the progress that the criminal division has done; the civil rights division as well," Holder told reporters at a press conference. "I expect that we will have some final recommendations coming up relatively soon.
January 29: The Washington Times:
Senate Demands Obama Administration Turn Over All Communications with the IRS:
Senate Finance Chair, Orrin Hatch and 13 other Republicans on the Committee demanded that President Obama turn over all communications he and his aides have had with the IRS since 2010, hoping to find out whether the tax collection agency shared private taxpayer information with political operatives at the White House. The request, made in a letter, is specifically addressed to the President and is an attempt to determine whether any White House or IRS officials employees broke the law by acquiring or sharing private information.
January 23: The Hill: GOP to IRS: Why hire the company that botched Healthcare.gov?
A Republican lawmaker is asking the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) why it hired a contractor to help with ObamaCare that was previously fired for its shoddy work on HealthCare.gov. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL), who leads the Ways and Means subcommittee on Oversight, called on the IRS Friday to explain how CGI Federal was chosen and what work the company will perform. "The American people should know why the IRS spent millions of taxpayer dollars to hire the same company responsible for the botched HealthCare.gov rollout," Roskam said in a written statement. "From an agency clamoring for more funding, this isn’t a confidence-inspiring use of resources," he said.
January 20: The Washington Examiner:
President’s proposed tax credit will pay for about two weeks of childcare:
Among the highlights of President’s State of the Union address plans to pull the American family out of economic plight is a $500 tax credit for two-earner families. Here’s how the White House presented it in a fact sheet: “Provide a new, simple tax credit to two-earner families. The president will propose a new $500 second earner credit to help cover the additional costs faced by families in which both spouses work — benefiting 24 million couples.” The provision is included in his effort “to help middle class families get ahead.” Like who? Administration officials said families earning up to $210,000 would get a piece of the tax credit. That is four-times the earning of the “typical” middle class income of $51,939 calculated by the Obama-supporting Center for American Progress. The $500 annual tax credit would also only cover about two weeks of childcare costs.
January 14: Yahoo News: Need help with your tax return? Don’t bother calling the IRS!
Filing a federal tax return is about to get more complicated for millions of families because of President Obama's health law. But they shouldn't expect much help from the IRS. Got a question for the IRS? Good luck reaching someone by phone. The tax agency says only half of the 100 million people expected to call this year will be able to reach a person. Callers who do get through may have to wait on hold for 30 minutes or more to talk to someone who will answer only the simplest questions.
"Taxpayers who need help are not getting it, and tax compliance is likely to suffer over the longer term if these problems are not quickly and decisively addressed," said a report Wednesday by agency watchdog Nina E. Olson. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen blames budget cuts for forcing the agency to reduce taxpayer services and other functions. The number of audits will decline, technology upgrades will be delayed and the agency might be forced to shut down and furlough workers for two days later this year, Koskinen said.
The budget cuts were in response to the IRS targeting of conservative groups and the Administration’s (IRS’s) stonewalling of the Congressional investigation to the Democrat use of this agency for political purposes. The emails from Lois Lerner and her associates have still not been provided to the Congress. Meanwhile the commissioner blames Congress and not the actions of his own agency for the problems the IRS is facing.
January 11: The Hill: Democrats suit up for Tax Reform Debate
More and more congressional Democrats are insisting that they cannot sign on to a tax overhaul that only helps businesses despite the potential to give a legacy achievement to the President. Obama and GOP leaders have pointed to taxes as one of just a handful of areas for potential agreement over the next two years, and the White House has long said it wants to limit the focus of reform efforts to streamlining the tax code for U.S. companies. But liberal lawmakers say there's no way they can agree to a deal that would favor powerful corporations over individuals and families that have yet to feel the economic recovery, especially after Democrats fought unsuccessfully to extend expanded tax breaks for the working poor late last year.
"There's a lot to do for business, and I want to work on that," Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told The Hill. "But I think our first responsibility is to working families, and they are struggling." At a news conference in December, Obama said he would push to put out more detailed tax reform proposals in the coming months, answering criticism from Republicans who said he had done little more than talk about the issue in recent years.
January 8: The Washington Examiner: IRS issues 21 pages of ObamaCare Tax Instructions:
The complicated process of signing up for Obamacare is now being matched by IRS instructions to help Americans figure out how much in healthcare taxes they owe Uncle Sam. The agency has issued 21 pages of instructions, complete with links to at least three long forms and nine tip sheets. It is geared to those who have Obamacare or who owe a fine, dubbed “shared responsibility payment,” for refusing to get health insurance. The IRS warned that everybody must have health insurance or pay the tax.
“While the vast majority of tax filers — over three quarters — will just need to check a box on their tax return indicating they had health coverage in 2014, people who have coverage through the Marketplaces, or decided not to enroll in coverage, should be aware of some additional steps that will be a part of the tax filing process starting this year,” said the Department of Health and Human Service, which runs the Affordable Care Act. The IRS form gives multiple examples of how much those without insurance, either through Obamacare or employers, owe in their “shared responsibility payment.”
December 30: Fox News: ObamaCare Fines rising in 2015 as the IRS Prepares to Collect:
Don't have health insurance? Get ready to pay up. The ObamaCare-mandated fines for not having insurance are rising in 2015 -- and for the first time, will be collected by the Internal Revenue Service. The individual requirement to buy health insurance went into effect earlier this year. But this coming tax season is the first time all taxpayers will have to report to the IRS whether they had health insurance for the prior year. The fines for the 2014 year were relatively modest -- $95 per person or 1 percent of household income (above the threshold for filing taxes), whichever is more. But insurance scofflaws face a sharp increase if they don't get covered soon. The fine will jump in 2015 to $325 or 2 percent of income, whichever is higher. By 2016, the average fine will be about $1,100, based on government figures. The insurance requirement and penalties remain the most unpopular part of the health care law. They were intended to serve a broader purpose by nudging healthy people into the insurance pool, helping to keep premiums more affordable. But the application of fines in 2015 could renew criticism of the law, at a time when Republicans are taking control of Congress and looking at ways to undercut the policy.
According to government figures, tens of millions of people still fall into the ranks of the uninsured. Unclear is how many would actually be assessed a fine. The law offers about 30 different exemptions, most of which involve financial hardships. Further, it's unclear how aggressively the IRS would go after the fines. Many taxpayers may be able to get a pass. Based on congressional analysis, tax preparation giant H&R Block says roughly 4 million uninsured people will pay penalties and 26 million will qualify for exemptions from the list of waivers.
Timing also will be critical for uninsured people who want to avoid the rising penalties for 2015. That's because Feb. 15 is the last day of open enrollment under the health law. After that, only people with special circumstances can sign up. But just 5 percent of uninsured people know the correct deadline, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. "We could be looking at a real train wreck after Feb. 15," said Stan Dorn, a health policy expert at the nonpartisan Urban Institute. "People will file their tax returns and learn they are subject to a much larger penalty for 2015, and they can do absolutely nothing to avoid that." Sensitive to political backlash, supporters of the health care law have played down the penalties in their sign-up campaigns.
December 29: Daily Caller:IRS Goes After Nonprofit Hospitals on Asking Customers to Pay Bills
The Obama administration announced new rules under Obamacare on Monday that target nonprofit hospitals’ efforts to get paid by their patients. Nonprofit hospitals, which serve a charitable purpose and are often religiously affiliated, will now be subject to strict rules on when and how they can collect payments from customers, thanks to regulations included in the health-care law. As a condition of their tax-exempt status, these hospitals must “take an active role in improving the health of the communities they serve,” Treasury Department deputy assistant secretary for tax policy Emily McMahon wrote. Under the new IRS rules, the penalty for failing to meet the new standards could even lead hospitals’ tax-exempt status to be revoked entirely.
Nonprofit hospitals will be required to have and “widely publicize” a financial assistance program — and will be banned from using certain collection methods until they’ve taken “reasonable efforts” to see whether a patient who hasn’t paid their bill is eligible for assistance. The hospital can’t report unpaid bills to a credit agency or garnish wages until hospital workers themselves have determined whether a customer is financially needy or is just trying to skip out on the payment. The new regulations don’t stop at active patients. In order to maintain tax-exempt status, nonprofit hospitals now need to actively attempt to handle health problems in their communities. Failure to comply with the new rules means facing the possibility of losing their tax-exemption.
December 19: Fox News:
Court Brief: Rogue agency defied judges to carry out partisan probe of Wisconsin Conservatives
Agents for the embattled state Government Accountability Board in Wisconsin continued a zealous campaign finance investigation into dozens of conservative groups even after judges who preside over the board voted to shut it down, according to a previously sealed brief made public Friday. The documents from an updated complaint filed by conservative plaintiffs in a case against the GAB, appear to support claims that the campaign finance, ethics and election law regulator is a rogue agency. They also show that the GAB considered using the state's John Doe law to investigate key state conservatives and even national figures, including Sean Hannity and WTMJ Milwaukee host Charlie Sykes.
Wisconsin Reporter also obtained some of its information from previous court documents that were supposed to have been redacted. "What we have uncovered so far shows the Government Accountability Board, or at least its staff, being anything but 'accountable,'" said Eddie Greim, attorney for plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the GAB. "For example, the public has learned for the first time, over GAB's objections, that GAB set up a secret system of Gmail accounts for its staffers and the prosecutors who ran the John Doe. We also know that GAB hoped its 'illegal coordination' theory could even extend to allow it to subpoena media figures like Charlie Sykes and Sean Hannity." A spokesman for the agency did not immediately return a request for comment.
Wisconsin's unique "John Doe" procedure is much like a grand jury investigation, without the benefit of a jury of peers. A judge vested with extraordinary powers to compel witnesses to testify presides over the probes.
December 18: Politico: IRS May Hold its own Shutdown Party
The IRS is considering its own temporary shutdown due to recent budget cuts enacted by Congress, its chief said Thursday. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said furloughs — forced unpaid days off for employees as part of an IRS closure — is one idea reluctantly being tossed about to save money, though they are hoping they will not have to go there. “People call it furloughs; I view it as: Are we going to have to shut the place down? And at this point, that will be the last thing we do, … but there is no way we can say right now that that wont happen,” Koskinen told reporters at a Thursday press conference on the upcoming tax season. “Again, I would stress that would be the last option.” He said a shutdown would mean the IRS would “close the agency for a day, two days, whatever days it would take to close the gap that we can’t otherwise close in a reasonable way.” The agency estimates each closed day would save $29 million.
The news comes a day after Koskinen in an email warned IRS employees that overtime would be suspended and a hiring freeze enacted. He also said more tough news would likely follow as IRS leadership negotiates with the National Treasury Employees Union, particularly because personnel costs comprise about 75 percent of the IRS costs. In the recent budget deal, Congress cut the IRS budget by $346 million to $10.9 billion — $1.5 billion less than the administration asked for. The IRS’ budget has been reduced about $1 billion since 2010.
December 10: PJ Media:Report: IRS Paid Out $6 Billion in Bogus Child Tax Credits:
According to a government investigator, the IRS paid out more than $6 Billion in “bogus” tax credits to people who aren’t eligible to receive them. “Payments went to families that mistakenly claimed the tax credit or claimed the wrong amount, as well as taxpayers who committed fraud, according to an audit by J. Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration.” The tax credit originates from a 2009 economic stimulus package that temporarily expanded the credit to families who do not make enough money to pay taxes. These folks receive the tax credit in the form of a cash refund rather than as a credit. The expanded tax credit program is set to expire at the end of 2017 but Democrats were trying to expand the program and cut a deal before they leave town for Christmas. Negotiations were unsuccessful to keep the program alive.
December 3: The Washington Examiner:
Feds balk at releasing documents showing IRS tax returns shared with the White House Less than a week after ’fessing up that it found some 2,500 documents potentially showing that the IRS shared taxpayer returns with the White House, the Obama administration has reversed course and won’t release the trove to a group suing for access. In an abrupt decision, the Treasury inspector general’s office said that the documents are covered by privacy and disclosure laws and can’t be provided to Cause of Action, despite a promise last week to hand over some 2,500. “All of the 2,043 pages of documents we have determined to be responsive were collected by the Secretary of the Treasury with respect to the determination of possible liability under Title 26 of the United States Code. These pages consist of return information protected by 26 U.S.C. § 6103 and may not be disclosed absent an express statutory exception,” said the Inspector General’s office.
November 22: The Washington Examiner: Guess What? They found 30,000 missing Lois Lerner IRS email messages
Up to 30,000 “missing” emails sent by former IRS official Lois Lerner have been recovered by the IRS inspector general, five months after they were deemed lost forever. On Friday the U.S. Treasury IG for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees that the emails were found among hundreds of “disaster recovery tapes” that were used to back up the IRS email system. “They just said it took them several weeks and some forensic effort to get these emails off these tapes,” a congressional aide told the Washington Examiner.
House and Senate Committees have been seeking the emails, which they believe could show Lerner was working in concert with Obama administration officials to target conservative and Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status before the 2012 presidential election. The missing emails extend from 2009 to 2011, a period when Lerner headed the IRS’s exempt-organizations division. IRS officials had said the emails were “lost” when Lerner’s computer crashed. In June Commissioner Koskinen told Congress the emails were probably lost for good because the disaster recovery tape holds onto the data for only six months. He said even if the IRS had sought the emails within the six-month period, it would have been a complicated and difficult process to produce them from the tapes. The IRS also reportedly “lost” the emails of several other employees who worked under Lerner during the same period.
November 7: Breitbart News: IRS: Um, Yeah, We Never Actually looked for the Lois Lerner emails! Some months ago it seemed that any computer or hard drive that came anywhere near Lois Lerner – the former supervisor of the Tax Exempt Organizations section of the IRS – seemed to crash and be unrecoverable and wiping out copies of correspondence relevant to the IRS targeting scandal. The federal judge overseeing the Judicial Watch suit, District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan, keeps ordering the IRS to explain what steps they have taken to retrieve Lerner's emails, but they keep resisting. The federal judge overseeing the Judicial Watch suit, District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan, keeps ordering the IRS to explain what steps they have taken to retrieve Lerner's emails, but they keep resisting. But in reviewing the latest batch of emails Judicial Watch made an interesting discovery “they [the IRS] haven't even tried looking for the missing emails yet.”
It's all part of the usual Obama Administration scandal management tactic: delay, delay, delay, while friendly media buries the scandal alive inside its Mausoleum of Old News, and ignored court orders become dusty museum curiosities. Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton expects them to keep playing this game until Obama is out of office: "The Obama IRS couldn’t care less about the federal court’s orders to provide full information about the ‘missing’ Lois Lerner emails. Instead, the IRS, with the help of a compromised Justice Department, has engaged in a series of transparently evasive distractions. The IRS would have Judicial Watch wait for years before we can ask questions about the cover-up that is going on now. The IRS thinks it can game a federal court, Congress, and the American people.
October 11: The Daily Caller: Senator claims Office in White House involved with IRS Targeting Scandal
Republican Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts said Friday that he thinks the IRS targeting scandal was driven by Valerie Jarrett’s office in the White House, according to information that he saw that Democrats tried to “whitewash.” Roberts said on talk radio that he participated in a Senate Finance Committee investigation into the IRS scandal but “the effort was made by the majority, by the Democrats in the Congress, to simply end that investigation,” which he called a “whitewash. … I’m convinced that even Valerie Jarrett was involved,” Roberts said. “I think this was White House-driven. I think all of the information at least that I saw leads to that, so we really have to finish this investigation,” he said. “This is pretty serious business … This is egregious. We’re talking about First Amendment rights and freedom of speech.”
October 7: The Washington Times: Producer of an anti-Obamacare movie is hit with an IRS audit:
The producer of a new movie that criticizes Obamacare has reportedly become the latest prominent conservative slapped with an IRS audit. Logan Clements, producer of “Sick and Sicker: ObamaCare Canadian Style,” announced via press release Tuesday that he is being audited for the first time ever. The news comes one month after the conservative Breitbart News announced that it, too, was being audited and that the action was probably politically motivated. Mr. Clements’‘ movie makes the case that Obamacare will eventually lead to socialized medicine like Canada. In the video, he says the IRS is demanding a “ridiculously long list” of documents, including “a detailed description of all transactions related to all prior year returns and supporting documentation.”
September 25: The Blaze: IRS Targeting: New AG needs to do a better job than Holder:
Outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder’s legacy – or at least a big part of it – will be obstructing the investigation into the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative groups, said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), who set a low bar for the next attorney general. “Whoever is going to be next, they have to be better than Eric Holder was,” Jordan said on the day Holder announced he was retiring from his controversial tenure as head of the Justice Department. Jordan is the chairman of the subcommittee for regulatory affairs for the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, in which he has probed the IRS targeting of tea party and conservative groups. Primarily, he points to Holder naming DOJ attorney Barbara Bosserman, who contributed more than $6,000 to President Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee, to run the investigation.
September 25: Breitbart.com:Palin to IRS: When you target us we get to target you!
On Friday, former Alaska Governor Palin said Americans should target and abolish the IRS for targeting conservatives and right-of-center organizations. She blasted Obama's IRS for deciding that the "independent Tea Party Patriots are the enemy of the people" and demanding to know the "content of the prayers" from various pro-life groups. She also expressed disbelief that the IRS would even conduct "massive, burdensome audits" of adoptive parents who are extending "their hearts" and homes to "help the orphans, downtrodden, and the helpless." "To advance liberty and justice for all, when you target Americans, right back atcha, we get to target you," Palin said at the Values Voters Summit. She asked, "Do you think it's time to abolish the IRS?"
September 9: The Daily Caller: Justice Dept. Tried to “Coordinate” IRS Scandal Response with Democrats:
A press official at the Department of Justice attempted to coordinate the leak of documents concerning the IRS targeting scandal with Democratic staffers, but accidentally called the wrong office, according to House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa. The official, identified as Brian Fallon, called the Oversight Committee Friday afternoon. Thinking he had reached the office of U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic ranking member on the committee, Fallon said that the DOJ’s Office of Legislative Affairs would not okay the release of the documents, but that he was eager to do so anyway “before the Majority” – Issa’s office – could do so.
According to Issa’s letter, the documents concerned former Justice Department attorney Andrew Strelka, who worked with IRS Exempt Director Lois Lerner, who has been accused of unfairly targeting conservative groups. During his call, Fallon apparently requested that the office leak the documents to “selected reporters” so that DOJ could comment on their contents. When Fallon discovered he was talking to the Republicans and not the Democrats he placed the call on hold then came back and said the plan to release the documents was no longer on the table and that the purpose of his call was to patch relations between DOJ and the Republican side of the Committee. Chairman Issa wasn’t buying the explanation!
September 9: Fox News:Breitbart News Says the IRS targeted them for an audit”
The company that runs the conservative Breitbart.com news site says the IRS has selected the network for an audit, in a move company executives suggest is politically motivated. Breitbart News Network, a California-based company which runs several conservative websites, says the IRS recently audited its 2012 financial information. "The Obama administration's timing on this is exquisite, but try as they might through various methods to silence us, we will only get more emboldened,” Stephen K. Bannon, executive chairman of Breitbart News Network, said in a written statement. The audit comes as the agency faces sustained complaints that it targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny as they sought nonprofit status, before the agency ended the practice last year. Since the practice was made public – by the IRS itself and the inspector general’s office – other conservative groups have come forward claiming they were subjected to unwarranted scrutiny by the agency.
August 26: Fox News: IRS Scandal: Administration Strategy = delay, derail, deceive:
The only thing you can count on as we learn more about the unlawful IRS targeting scandal is the Administration’s dedication to misleading the American people and Congress. After being told repeatedly by a number of administration officials -- including the IRS Commissioner -- that former top IRS official Lois Lerner’s computer problems resulted in the destruction of thousands of her key emails, we have now been told that those emails actually exist - backed up by an emergency system in the event of a catastrophe. Justice Department officials have now told a federal court that the problem was not that the Lerner emails couldn't be found, but that the back-up system was “too onerous to search.” “Too onerous to search”? Unbelievable. The truth is that the Administration is doing everything it can -- including presenting false and misleading information -- to stall what can only be described as a fake investigation.
At the same time, we are now learning from the filing in federal court that Lerner’s Blackberry was wiped clean -- destroyed -- after her computer hard drives “crashed” and after Congress began its probe into the targeting scheme. “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 investigation,” according to Stephen Manning, Deputy Chief Information Officer for Strategy & Modernization for the IRS. Sadly, this has become standard operating procedure for the Administration. Delay. Derail. Deceive.
August 25: Newsbusters.org: Bombshell! DOJ Admits that Lois Lerner emails exist! The latest bombshell in the IRS scandal has landed. On Monday, Judicial Watch’s president Tom Fitton told FNC’s Shannon Bream that a Justice Department attorney told them the missing Lois Lerner e-mails do exist. Appearing on FNC’s The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, Fitton announced: “A Department of Justice attorney told a Judicial Watch attorney on Friday that it turns out the federal government backs up all computer records in case something terrible happens in Washington and there is a catastrophe....So everything we’ve been hearing about scratched hard drives, about missing e-mails of Lois Lerner, other IRS officials, other officials in the Obama administration, it’s all been a pack of malarkey.”
July 30: The Washington Times: New Emails show that Lois Lerner hated conservatives:
Newly released Lois Lerner emails, the former IRS official at the center of the TEA party targeting scandal, show “deep animus towards conservatives, which she refers to as [language deleted],” according to a House committee. The emails were among a batch of new evidence the House Ways and Means Committee turned over Wednesday to DOJ in support of an investigation of criminal wrongdoing at the IRS.
“Despite the serious investigation and evidence… …there is no indication that DOJ is taking this matter seriously,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) said in a letter to Justice. “In light of this new information, I hope DOJ will aggressively pursue this case and finally appoint a special counsel, so the full truth can be revealed and justice is served,” he wrote. Camp argued the newly discovered emails demonstrated Lerner’s “personal hostility toward conservatives,” who were targeted by the IRS office she ran. The committee also turned over evidence that Lerner used her personal home computer for IRS business, including storing taxpayer information.
July 23: The Daily Caller: IRS Commissioner: We’re Not Investigating the Missing Lerner Emails right now
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen revealed Wednesday that he is not speaking to any potential witnesses in the missing-emails case while his agency’s inspector general conducts his own investigation. Koskinen claimed that IRS inspector general Russell George told him “not to do any further investigations or interviews” with employees pertaining to hard drive crashes, and that’s why he did not voluntarily provide a key witness to congressional investigators. But Koskinen later admitted that the inspector general never told him not to cooperate with Congress.
Koskinen’s statement stunned Republican lawmakers at a morning hearing chaired by Rep. Jordan, who stated, “It has taken subpoenas to get people to talk.” Jordan called Koskinen’s statement “not accurate,” citing IRS prep sessions with employees who get interviewed by Congress to prove that the IRS is still talking to potential witnesses.
July 23: Fox News:
You've Got the Tapes, You have them Not; You've Got the Tapes, You have them Not! [IRS confirms the Lerner backup tapes aren’t lost after all]
The head of the IRS confirmed Wednesday that investigators looking into missing emails from ex-agency official Lois Lerner have found and are reviewing "backup tapes" -- despite earlier IRS claims that the tapes had been recycled. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, testifying before a House oversight subcommittee, stressed that he does not know "how they found them" or "whether there's anything on them or not." But he said the inspector general's office advised him the investigators are reviewing tapes to see if they contain any "recoverable" material. The revelation is significant because the IRS claimed, when the agency first told Congress about the missing emails, that backup tapes "no longer exist because they have been recycled."
July 21: The Washington Times: IRS Seeks Help in Destroying another 3,200 computer hard drives:
Days after IRS officials said in a sworn statement that former top agency employee Lois G. Lerner’s computer memory had been wiped clean, the agency put out word to contractors Monday that it needs help to destroy at least another 3,200 hard drives. The IRS solicitation for “media destruction” services reflects an otherwise routine job to protect sensitive taxpayer information, but it was made while the agency’s record destruction practices remain under a sharp congressional spotlight.
July 17: The Washington Times:Top DOJ official denies conspiring with IRS to target TEA party groups:
Deputy Attorney General James Cole said Thursday that the Department of Justice didn’t conspire with theirs to try to target TEA party groups, and said the FBI didn’t even know it had been given private taxpayer information by the tax agency until years afterward. He went on to say that the FBI never used or even reviewed the substance of the information which was provided on 21 disks turned over by the IRS. In a statement that stunned Subcommittee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH) Cole couldn’t say why the IRS turned over the information in the first place.
Cole said DOJ’s investigation into the IRS targeting is still ongoing and pulled back the curtain slightly, saying they are looking into emails lost from Ms. Lerner’s computer, which the IRS has blamed on a hard drive crash, but he wouldn’t give any more details about the investigation, and denied GOP charges that it appears to be stalled or moving more slowly than other similar probes. His testimony seemed to contradict President Obama, who told Fox News earlier this year that there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” evident in the IRS’s targeting.
July 9: Fox News: Special Report:Lerner message warns about being careful what is said in emails because Congress might want to see them
| Video “I was cautious about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails – so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails,” Lerner wrote in one of her email messages. Shortly after this the Inspector General started investigating IRS activities related to the targeting of conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status.
Recently Congress also learned that Lerner asked whether text messages were being backed up and saved. When she was told they were not her response was one word “Perfect!” Some Congressmen see all this as part of an effort to cover up IRS targeting activities.
July 2: The Daily Caller:Issa to IRS Commissioner: Your Testimony Was Disputed by Lerner Attorney Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) has told IRS commissioner John Koskinen that his sworn testimony on Lois Lerner’s missing emails was contradicted by recent statements from Lerner’s lawyer, and offered Koskinen a chance to amend his testimony. “Recent public statements from William W. Taylor III, the attorney representing former IRS official Lois Lerner, have raised new questions about Ms. Lerner’s Federal Records Act compliance practices and the circumstances surrounding the loss of e-mails and destruction of her hard drive,” Issa wrote in a letter Wednesday to Koskinen. “Accordingly, I ask that you assist the Committee in reconciling apparent discrepancies between your claims that Ms. Lerner fully maintained records and statements by her attorney that she did not and that it was not her responsibility.”
Lerner and six other IRS employees allegedly suffered computer crashes that wiped out the emails they sent during the agency’s targeting of conservative groups. The Federal Records Act required Lerner to keep hard copies of her emails. But while Koskinen maintained that Lerner followed the law, Taylor said otherwise. “Lerner did not print out official records she may have sent over email because she didn’t know she had to,” Taylor said. “If somebody is supposed to keep archived copies, that’s the IT department’s or her staff’s responsibility.” Issa is giving Koskinen a chance to “amend” his testimony, which appears to have been inaccurate.
“In light of statements by Ms. Lerner’s attorney, including the statement that she did not believe she was ‘required’ to maintain a printed archive of federal record e-mails, as well as the record of correspondence between Ms. Lerner and the Justice Department that the IRS apparently did not maintain, the Committee would like to offer you the opportunity to amend your testimony that you have no idea ‘whether anything that was lost was an official record or not’ and acknowledge that Ms. Lerner did not follow policies necessary for Federal Records Act compliance that have obstructed the congressional investigation into the IRS’s targeting,” Issa wrote.
July1: The Washington Examiner:Another Federal Judge tells IRS to explain itself on lost emails:
IRS attorneys will be even busier than normal next week, because another federal judge has told them to show up in court July 11 to explain to U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton why the IRS shouldn't be required to let an outside expert evaluate whether emails on the computer hard drives of former IRS official Lois Lerner and six of her colleagues really are lost forever, as the agency recently told Congress. Responding to a motion filed Monday by Houston-based True the Vote, a conservative nonprofit at the center of IRS targeting during the 2010 and 2012 campaigns, Walton issued an order Tuesday to hear arguments next week.
The IRS recently told Congress that a mysterious crash of the hard drives last year irretrievably destroyed nearly two years of emails to and from Lerner and the others to and from people in other federal agencies, including the White House, but True the Vote wants a digital forensics expert from outside the IRS to assess the evidence.
IRS attorneys will be in the federal District Court on July 10 to explain why the government failed to tell Judicial Watch about the lost emails for months despite their being evidence in the nonprofit's Freedom of Information Act lawsuit. Judicial Watch, a government watchdog nonprofit, filed its lawsuit last October after IRS officials failed to respond adequately to a May 2013 FOIA request for the Lerner emails.
June 27: Politico: Lerner Fights Back:
Lois Lerner has no records of two years of missing emails and Republican claims that she’s hiding something are “silly,” her lawyer said in his first interview since the controversy around the former IRS official erupted two weeks ago. “She doesn’t know what happened,” lawyer William Taylor III said of the 2011 computer crash that erased two years worth of Lerner’s correspondence. “It’s a little brazen to think she did this on purpose.” When the IRS finally told congressional investigators that the Lerner emails from 2009 through mid-2011 were lost when her hard drive buckled it revived a firestorm among members of Congress, who are incredulous that technology cannot bring the emails back and accuse IRS Commissioner John Koskinen of lying.
Lerner has been silent for more than a year, pleading the Fifth on Capitol Hill and speaking only through her lawyer episodically. The interview marks their first detailed response since the scandal was reignited and suggests Lerner’s camp is going to keep fighting.
June 24: WND News:IRS Chief branded as a Liar Oversight Committee Chair Darrell Issa (R-CA) told IRS Commissioner Koskinen, “At a minimum, you did not tell the whole truth,” during previous testimony, and “We are wondering what your word is worth.” In his opening statement, Issa flatly told Koskinen he had given false testimony by promising to provide all emails of former IRS tax-exempt division chief Lois Lerner, while knowing two years of those emails were actually missing. “You promised to produce documents and you did not!” he said. “Perhaps you hoped Congress would never know” about the missing emails. Issa suggested. Although Issa admitted the Commissioner wasn’t directly involved he said “But by your actions and your deception, you now own this scandal.”
March 26: C-Span/YouTube:A Flashback: Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) Questions IRS Commissioner:
Is this a duly issued subpoena?
Are you going to fully comply with what it is requesting?
The Commissioner indicated it would take years to provide the committee with the information being requested because the IRS needed to review each one and redact information that was not responsive to the information requested.
“Why are you saying that you are going to redact information from emails we are requesting,” Chaffee asked.
“Does the subpoena say you should do that?”
June 20: Your Houston News:KevinBrady: This is the most deceitful and corrupt IRS in History:
In a statement, Kevin Brady (R-TX), a senior member of House Ways and Means, said “Today, Commissioner Koskinen [of the IRS] confirmed through his contradictory testimony that he withheld key evidence from the congressional investigation into IRS targeting, and intentionally misled the committee when he promised in May to deliver all of Ms. Lois Lerner’s emails without limitation. His continued claim that none of Ms. Lerner’s emails have been lost is contradicted by the IRS’s newest invention – that her hard-drive and server containing key years of emails has been irretrievably damaged and lost, along with the emails of six other key figures in the IRS investigation. That’s simply not believable.”
“Given the clear evidence of criminal violations and confirmed pattern of untruthful agency statements, Commissioner Koskinen now leads the most corrupt and deceitful IRS in the history of the agency. It’s apparent he is no longer working for the American people, but it is one more in a long line of recent acting IRS commissioners whose main purpose is to mislead investigators and cover up this scandal. While Commissioner Koskinen and Congressional Democrats believe he is the victim and is owed an apology for being pressed to provide truthful answers into the investigation of IRS targeting of Americans for their political beliefs, I say he owes the targeted taxpayers an apology for the IRS trying to silence their voices.”
June 20: Audience Gasps as IRS Commissioner says the hard drive with the Lerner emails on it was destroyed and sent out for recycling:[Listen to the video - click on link left]
June 20: Fox News:Whythe IRS scandal won’t die IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is on the Hill today for another round of contentious hearings on mounting allegations of misconduct at the agency. Taking center stage: the vanished emails of key figures in the scandal. The agency, accused of harassing conservative groups, claims that emails from individuals who are the focus of congressional investigators are gone and unrecoverable – a dubious claim. As the partisans haggle over “recycled” hard drives and the existence of back-up servers, though, let’s not forget why we care. This isn’t just an ordinary story about an over-powerful government agency run amok. The allegations here are of political corruption in which officials appointed by the party in power allegedly sought to impede and punish those of the opposing view with the intent to alter the outcome of two elections. That’s not just the usual stuff we read about with regulators gone wild. This is an allegation of rigging two elections by high officials in an agency with enormous powers to harass and intimidate.
June 18: The Daily Beast: Paging Rose Mary Woods: Obama’s Unbelievable Missing IRS emails:
The IRS scandal is back, with Lois Lerner mislaying two years of communiqués – just like Nixon’s secretary Rose Mary Woods and her erased 18 minutes of tape, but the presidential characters couldn’t be more different. As if the allegations of targeting political enemies weren’t enough, now the Obama must contend with missing emails. Reminiscent of the missing 18 minutes of tape, today’s sought-after communiqués, we are told, are the victim of a crashed computer and a failed hard drive, both belonging to Lois Lerner, the chief of the IRS tax-exempt office at the center of the controversy. But it’s not just Lerner’s email that are lost and unaccounted for, there are six more IRS employees connected to the original targeting outrage that the IRS cannot submit to Congress. Worse, the IRS decided not to notify Congress until they were confronted -- three months after IRS leaders “learned” of the problem!
Americans have an instinctive appreciation for the seriousness of the charges facing the IRS. The possibility that the IRS treats us unequally, in part for political reasons, strikes at the core of reasonable, mainstream distrust of government. After all, the power to tax is the power to destroy. If there’s one place we’d expect to find government harassment carried out under our noses, it’d be the IRS, which harasses us year in and year out anyway. One doesn’t need reams of reports or public-opinion polls to understand the gut plausibility of an IRS scandal in full flower. Yet the Obama administration seems not to have imagined that this burgeoning problem might require more attention than anything else Republicans are screaming about these days. Rather than a president in over his head, Obama is behaving like a president who doesn’t believe the onus should be on him to head off an appearance of impropriety at the pass. And, oh yes Mr. President “There is not a smidgeon of corruption” at the IRS!
June 17: The Daily Caller:Chairman Issa subpoenas Lois Lerner’s hard drive
Congress wants proof! House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa subpoenaed IRS commissioner John Koskinen Tuesday for ex-IRS official Lois Lerner’s computer hard drive and other electronic devices. The IRS recently claimed that it lost 24,000 emails that Lerner exchanged with other Obama administration agencies and the White House between 2009 and 2011, during the period that Lerner was overseeing the improper targeting of conservative and tea party groups. The IRS claimed that Lerner’s computer crashed in 2011 and the emails were lost. IRS commissioner John Koskinen, however, testified in March that Lerner’s emails were all stored on a computer server.
Issa subpoenaed records and documents including “All back-up tapes, external drives, thumb drives, or other storage media the IRS used to capture, archive, back up, or otherwise record e-mails sent or received by Lois Lerner from January 1, 2009, to September 23, 2013″ and “All electronic communication devices the IRS issued to Lois G. Lerner from January 1, 2009, to September 23, 2013.”
Issa also subpoenaed information about IRS email collection tactics. “After a year of beating down efforts by the Obama Administration and its allies to obstruct an investigation into targeting, the IRS now says it lost perhaps the most critical evidence,” Issa said in a statement. “When Commissioner Koskinen testified before the Committee in February, he made no mention of this. It was only earlier this month, during an interview with a Justice Department official, that the Oversight Committee learned about the existence of subpoenaed 2010 Lerner e-mails that the IRS had not produced. While this apparently forced the IRS to cough up an admission, we still do not have answers about how and why the IRS tried to deceive Congress about these missing e-mails,” Issa said. “This subpoena seeks those answers.”
June 17: Fox News:Lawmakers: IRS knew for months of the “lost” Lerner emails, more documents missing:
Republican lawmakers charged Tuesday that the IRS knew for months they had "lost" a massive trove of emails from embattled ex-IRS official Lois Lerner, but kept it "secret" until this past Friday. The lawmakers noted that during this period, newly appointed Commissioner John Koskinen nevertheless assured Congress the agency would produce the documents, which are considered critical to their efforts to probe the targeting of Tea Party and other groups. Further, lawmakers said records from six other IRS workers appear to have gone missing as well.
"It looks like the American people were lied to and the IRS tried to cover-up the fact it conveniently lost key documents in this investigation," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-MI, and Rep. Charles Boustany, R-LA, said in a statement. Republicans on the committee said the agency knew as early as February that emails were missing. Yet the IRS only revealed last Friday that it had lost an untold number of emails when Lerner's computer crashed in 2011.
The missing emails are mainly messages to and from people outside the IRS, including the White House and other major offices and departments. Republicans remain dubious about the agency's claims that the rest simply disappeared. Camp and Boustany said Tuesday that the problem goes beyond Lerner, revealing the IRS "cannot produce records from six other IRS employees involved in the targeting of conservative groups." Among those figures is former chief of staff to the commissioner Nikole Flax.
June 16: The Washington Post:Here’s how the IRS Supposedly lost emails from key witness Lois Lerner
On Friday, the IRS informed Congressional investigators it could not recover two years of emails from Lois Lerner, the former head of the agency's tax-exempt status department. Lerner Her emails are one of the only record of what happened in her own words. The disappearance that quickly sparked skepticism from those seeking the truth about what actually happened. Here's what the IRS says happened.
Prior to the eruption of the IRS controversy last spring, the IRS had a policy of backing up the data on its email server every day. It kept a backup of the records for six months on digital tape, according to a letter sent from the IRS. So when Congressional committees began requesting emails from the agency, its records only went back to late 2012. Emails considered an "official record" of the IRS weren’t to be deleted and, in fact, a hard copy file of these was to be maintained.
Those emails that constitute an official record are ones that were "[c]reated or received in the transaction of agency business," "appropriate for preservation as evidence of the government's function or activities," or "valuable because of the information they contain". The letter sent to the senators suggests that it was up to the user to determine what emails met those standards. It's not clear if Lerner had any hard copies of important emails.
The good news is that by searching Lerner's computer and those of other employees, the agency was able to compile thousands of emails sent from and to Lerner from 2011 to 2013. The bad news is that in 2011, Lerner's computer crashed. She requested that the IRS' IT division try and recover the data from her hard drive. It was unable to do so, and it appears that individual machines like hers weren't backed up.
On Fox News’ Special Report [Monday (June 16)] it was noted that one of the articles of impeachment for then President Nixon was based upon 18 minutes of erased audio tape. In this case two years of email have “all of a sudden been lost!” There are many well-qualified high tech firms that specialize in computer forensics. Fox News contributors suggested that they should be employed to apply their trade to Ms. Lerner’s computer to uncover the missing emails!
(A quick background on how email works before we begin. Email moves back and forth between servers. Email sent to IRS.gov goes to the IRS' email server; emails sent from IRS.gov to, say, gmail.com, travel over the internet to Google's email servers. You and I access our email messages by using an email client (like Microsoft Outlook), a tool that reads email from the server either directly or by downloading it first. If you delete an email from the server it is not necessarily gone forever. That depends upon whether your Internet service provider backs up and maintains copies of the messages on its server(s). If you delete a message from your computer it, also, is not necessarily gone forever because until data is written over it or you reformat your hard drive, it is still possible for forensic computer specialists to find and retrieve those messages.)
June 15: The Washington Times:Here is what the IRS is saying happened to Lerner's Emails
Last week the IRS sent a letter explaining how it “lost” some of former employee Lois Lerner’s emails from 2009 through 2011, including some from her communications with Democrats in Congress or with other federal agencies. The agency blamed a computer crash for the mishap, saying it has tried to collect as many emails as possible. But House Ways and Means Chair Dave Camp (R-MI said it shouldn’t have taken a year for the IRS to tell Congress that it didn’t have all of Lerner’s emails. “The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response to congressional inquiries,” Camp said. “There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.”
Lerner ran the division that gave unwarranted scrutiny into tea party groups’ applications for tax-exempt status. She retired from the agency last year while under scrutiny for her actions. Republicans believe her emails will show the extent of the government’s efforts to target the tea party. The IRS said it still has been able to collect 24,000 Lerner emails from the time period in question that it has turned over or will be providing, as part of a total production of 67,000 emails that she either sent or received.
May 22: Fox News: IRS backs off proposal critics warn would “silence” conservative groups:
The IRS has agreed to overhaul a controversial proposal that Republican lawmakers warned would revive the agency's "harassment and intimidation" of conservative groups, after receiving a record number of comments on the proposed regulation. The new rules have been in the works ever since the IRS came under fire for its targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups. In the wake of that scandal, the agency said it wanted to clarify for everybody how tax-exempt groups can engage in political activity -- by reining in the political work those groups do.
But Republicans, as well as some on the left, worried the new rules would only exacerbate the kind of targeting that stonewalled Tea Party groups in the first place. For months, they've urged the IRS to scrap the proposal entirely, saying it would stifle free speech. Sen. Orrin Hatch, (R-UT) among those senators, called Thursday's decision a "long overdue step in the right direction."
May 21: The Blaze: $1 Million Bounty to be offered for “smoking gun” in IRS Targeting Scandal
A nonprofit group hopes to award a $1 million bounty to anyone who can provide “smoking gun” evidence to implicate IRS leadership or members of the Obama administration who purposefully targeted conservative and tea party-affiliated groups, The Blaze has learned. Gregg Phillips, the managing director for The Voters Trust -- a political nonprofit 501 (c)(4) which was established to identify and mobilize Americans -- told The Blaze on Wednesday “that this is the people’s bounty to seek the truth.”
To qualify for the bounty, the person needs to provide “relevant evidence including emails, eye-witness accounts, or testimony of political targeting of Americans by the IRS or the Obama administration that has not previously been reported,” according to an official press release from the group. Phillips said the evidence must lead directly to the arrest and conviction those responsible and the information provided will remain anonymous and confidential.
May 14: Judicial Watch: New Documents Reveal the IRS Headquarters Controlled the Targeting of Conservative Groups:
Judicial Watch today released a new batch of IRS documents revealing that its handling of Tea Party applications was directed out of the agency’s headquarters in Washington. The documents also show extensive pressure on the IRS by Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) to shut down conservative-leaning tax-exempt organizations. The IRS’ emails by Lois Lerner detail her misleading explanations to investigators about the targeting of Tea Party organizations.
May 14: The Daily Caller: New Emails show Democrat Senator Pressured IRS to Target Conservative Groups:
The IRS’ Washington, D.C. headquarters targeted conservative groups in part due to pressure from Democratic Sen. Carl Levin, according to emails obtained by the watchdog group Judicial Watch and reviewed by The Daily Caller. Levin, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ permanent subcommittee on investigations, wrote a March 30, 2012 letter to then-IRS commissioner Douglas Shulman discussing the “urgency” of the issue of possible political activity by nonprofit applicants. Levin asked if the IRS was sending out additional information requests to applicant groups and citing an IRS rejection letter to a conservative group as an example of how the IRS should be conducting its business. A top IRS official replied that the agency could send out “individualized questions and requests.”
Levin asked ”…approximately what percentage of such applicants receive an IRS questionnaire seeking information about any political activities, and how the IRS determines whether and when to send that questionnaire; and approximately how many days after an application is filed that questionnaire is typically sent.” Then-IRS deputy commissioner Steven T. Miller sent Levin a 16-page response explaining that the flexibility of IRS rules allow for the agency to “prepare individualized questions and requests.” “There is no standard questionnaire used to obtain information about political activities,” Miller wrote. “Although there is a template development letter that describes the general information on the case development process, the letter does not specify the information to be requested from any particular organization … Consequently, revenue agents prepare individualized questions and requests for documents relevant to the application. . .”
May 13: CNS News: Federal Tax Revenues Set Records through April while still running a deficit: Federal tax revenues continue to run at a record pace in fiscal 2014 Despite this record revenue, the federal government still ran a deficit of $306.411 billion in the first seven months of the fiscal year, which began on Oct. 1, 2013 and will end on Sept. 30, 2014. In the month of April itself, which usually sees the peak tax revenues for the year, the federal government ran a surplus of $106.853 billion.
May 7: The Hill:House Votes 231-187 to Hold Lerner in Contempt of Congress
The House voted Wednesday to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to testify about the agency’s improper scrutiny of Tea Party groups. The 231 to 187 vote, which included six Democrats, marked the latest escalation in the nearly yearlong IRS controversy, which broke last May when Lerner acknowledged and apologized for the agency’s singling out of Tea Party groups seeking tax-exempt status. The Democrats who voted in favor of the move included Reps. Ron Barber (AZ), John Barrow (GA), Collin Peterson (MN), Mike McIntyre (NC) and Nick Rahall (WVA) and Patrick Murphy (FL) all of whom are facing tough reelections. All Republicans voted "yes."
Republicans said the move to hold Lerner in contempt was both reluctant and a long time coming, after they’d tried to secure her testimony for more than 11 months. Lerner has twice invoked her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination before the House Oversight Committee. But Republicans say she waived those rights by claiming her innocence in an opening statement. “The contempt of the U.S. House of Representatives is a serious matter, and one we take only when duly warranted,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said on the House floor. “There are few government abuses more serious than using the IRS to punish American citizens for their political beliefs.”
The vote refers the contempt charges to the local U.S. attorney, who will decide whether to bring them before federal court. Lerner, the former head of an IRS division that oversaw tax-exempt groups, could face up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine if found guilty of the charges. She retired from the IRS in September, after being suspended shortly after the IRS controversy broke.
May 7: The Hill:House passes resolution calling for IRS Special Counsel:
The House on Wednesday passed a resolution calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special counsel for the Internal Revenue Service investigation. The resolution, passed 250-168, came minutes after the House voted to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. Twenty-six Democrats voted in favor of it. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said that appointing a special counsel was necessary to ensure a fair investigation of the agency's scrutiny of conservative nonprofits applying for tax-exempt status. "The administration cannot credibly investigate this matter," Goodlatte said. "The American people deserve to know who ordered the targeting, when the targeting was ordered and why."
The House Ways and Means Committee voted last month to refer Lerner to the Justice Department for criminal prosecution. The Justice Department has not moved on the referral, however. Republicans have taken particular issue that one of the key Justice Department lawyers on the IRS case has given thousands of dollars to Democratic causes. "If we don't have a conflict of interest here, I don't know where we do," said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH).
May 4: The Daily Caller:House Oversight Chair demands heads roll for IRS Abuse
The same group that brought Speaker Boehner to appoint a select committee on Benghazi now recently disclosed the Lois Lerner IRS emails. Calling it “disturbing” that Congress is not the source of these investigative revelations, House Ways and Means Subcommittee Chair Charles Boustany, (R-LA), supports the House vote soon on holding Lerner in contempt of Congress. Boustany explained that Lerner is where all the facts are leading on this IRS matter right now and she holds the key to future progress in this investigation. The Chairman said “We don’t want any civil servant in this government in a position where they think they have freedom to abuse the rights of American people. Period. We need to put the fear of God in them and if they try to do that, then there will be consequences.”
In response to claims that the targeting was merely from “rogue agents in Cincinnati,” Boustany said, “this has been proven to not be a true statement.” On April 9, the Ways and Means Committee took the unprecedented step of issuing a criminal referral letter to the Department of Justice on Lerner with a focus — according to some conservatives — on Karl Rove’s associations and other monied interests, instead of tea party organizations and smaller targeted groups. Boustany stated, “The IRS is an agency that can break the most powerful person in the country, all the way down to the guy on the street. If that type of abusive power is allowed free reign, then we are on a very slippery slope in this country.”
The Chairman also told the Daily Caller that the subcommittee has a lot of information that Republican and conservative donors were being targeted as well. “I think this is potentially much more serious than what Nixon did (with the IRS) if it does get traced all the way to the White House. So, we need to follow these facts. We need to be diligent and make sure we really do this thoroughly and not jump to conclusions. Otherwise, you undermine the credibility of this.”
Apr. 28: Fox News: Lerner’s Lawyer asks permission to address the House
The lawyer for a former Internal Revenue Service official at the heart of the agency's tea party controversy asked Monday to address the House ahead of a vote to hold his client in contempt of Congress. He probably won't get the chance. Lois Lerner directed the IRS division that processes applications for tax-exempt status. This month, the House Oversight Committee voted to hold Lerner in contempt of Congress for refusing to answer questions at a pair of hearings about IRS agents improperly singling out TEA party applications for extra scrutiny.
"We write to request an opportunity to present to the House the reasons why it should not hold Ms. Lerner in contempt," Lerner's lawyer, William W. Taylor III, wrote in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, R-OH. "Holding Ms. Lerner in contempt would not only be unfair and, indeed, un-American, it would be flatly inconsistent with the Fifth Amendment as interpreted by the Supreme Court," Taylor wrote. In an email, Taylor clarified that Lerner's lawyers would address the House, if given the chance -- not Lerner herself.
Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said, "Ms. Lerner can avoid being held in contempt at any time by testifying fully and honestly, but she has chosen not to." House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-VA responded on Twitter: "The House welcomes the opportunity for Lois Lerner to address our members. She can do so at any time before the House Oversight Committee."
Apr. 25: Fox News:House Sets vote on holding Lois Lerner in Contempt of Congress:
The House of Representatives will vote in May on whether to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt for her role in the agency's targeting of conservative groups, according to a memo released Friday. The memo from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said the contempt vote would proceed unless Lerner agrees to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee about the targeting scandal. “Thorough investigations by the Oversight and Government Reform Committee as well as the Ways and Means Committee have revealed findings that indicate that Ms. Lerner played a central role in the illegal targeting of conservative groups by the IRS,” the memo reads.
Last May, Lerner refused to answer questions at a hearing about IRS agents singling out tea party applications for extra scrutiny. She again refused to answer questions in March, citing her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The Oversight Committee voted earlier this month to hold her in contempt. House Republicans on Thursday stepped up their investigation into the Justice Department's possible role in the targeting scandal, citing an email that purportedly suggests high-level DOJ officials may have been involved. Emails published last week showed correspondence between Lerner and others at the IRS regarding the Justice Department's interest in investigating "political" groups.
Apr. 23: The Hill: Manchin to IRS: Take back bonuses from tax delinquent federal workers:
Sen. Joe Manchin, the centrist Democrat from West Virginia, is demanding that Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen rescind bonuses to IRS employees who have failed to pay their taxes. Manchin told Koskinen in a sternly worded letter that giving hundreds of thousands of dollars in awards and bonuses to employees with serious tax issues is "completely unacceptable." "How can we expect the American people — many of whom are struggling to make ends meet — to trust their government when they learn that the very agency charged with collecting their tax dollars is rewarding employees who haven't paid theirs?" Manchin wrote in a letter Wednesday.
An audit by the Treasury Department's inspector general for tax administration found that the IRS gave $1.07 million in bonuses to 1,146 employees with tax problems between October 2010 and December 2012. Those staffers also received 10,500 in extra time off from the agency. "No federal agency should reward tax-delinquent employees with taxpayer-funded bonuses and rewards, least of all the IRS," Manchin wrote.
Apr. 21: The Washington Times:IRS Revokes conservative group’s tax-exempt status over anti-Clinton statements
The IRS revoked the tax-exempt status of a conservative charity for making statements critical of Hillary Rodham Clinton and John Kerry, according to a USA Today report. The Patrick Henry Center for Individual Liberty, based in Manassas, Va., “has shown a pattern of deliberate and consistent intervention in political campaigns” and made “repeated statements supporting or opposing various candidates by expressing its opinion of the respective candidate’s character and qualifications,” according to a written determination released Friday by the IRS.
The IRS said the center acted as an “action organization” by publishing alerts on its Website for columns written by its president, former FBI agent Gary Aldrich, the Washington Free Beacon reported.
Apr. 20: The Daily Caller:Cummings may face ethics probe over illegal investigation: Congressman Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, could be facing an ethics investigation if Cleta Mitchell has her way. Mitchell — a partner at Foley & Lardner and the legal counsel for True the Vote in its case against the IRS for its targeting of conservative groups — is pursuing Cummings over his conduct in the wider investigation. “[Cummings] announced within 30 days after the IRS scandal that “Whoops, all this investigation is over, and we don’t need to be doing anything more on that,’ and he has done everything he can do to thwart and obstruct this investigation,” Mitchell said. “And has just been adamant that the investigation needs to end, that this is just a witch hunt, that there’s nothing there, that nobody did anything wrong.”
Mitchell believes that Cummings’s actions, including what he described as ”his investigation of True the Vote” is outside of his jurisdiction and that it is a gross abuse of power to investigate private citizens. “In the fall of 2012, True the Vote received a series of letters — eight, nine, 10 page letters from Elijah Cummings out of the blue, conducting what he claimed was ‘his investigation of True the Vote,’” she continued. “Now mind you, the jurisdiction of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee is federal agencies. It is not private citizens’ groups in Houston, Texas.
“Congressman Cummings sent this series of letters demanding all this material and information from True the Vote. This went on for several months, and then he would get on national TV, MSNBC of course, and before the letters had been received by True the Vote he’d be waving these letters around and that he’s conducting an investigation, which of course he has no authority under the House rules to do.”
“On behalf of True the Vote, we filed a complaint against Rep. Cummings on February 6 with the Office of Congressional Ethics asking the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Rep. Cummings or any member of his staff had played any role in getting any of the agencies that went after Catherine Engelbrecht and her family after she became involved with True the Vote. Two IRS audits about the business, her personal tax returns, two visits from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, a surprise visit from OSHA, seven visits from the FBI. I mean, these are not coincidences. And so we wanted to know what role Rep. Cummings or any of his staff had played in any of that and why Rep. Cummings undertook to misrepresent that he was conducting an investigation of True the Vote, which we think was in violation of House rules.”
Apr. 19: The Washington Times:Scalia to Law Students: If taxes get to a certain point “perhaps you should revolt”
While speaking at the University of Tennessee College of Law on Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Scalia was asked by a student about his interpretation of the constitutionality of the income tax, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. The longest-serving justice currently on the bench answered the student by saying that the government has the constitutional right to implement the tax, “but if it reaches a certain point, perhaps you should revolt.” He continued to tell the students that they have every right to express criticism of the government. “You’re entitled to criticize the government, and you can use words, you can use symbols, you can use telegraph, you can use Morse code, you can burn a flag,” he said, according to the News Sentinel.
The Justice was invited to deliver the annual “Rose Lecture” and the Tennessee law school. He discussed pivotal events in his time in the Supreme Court including the decision in 1989 to rule that flag-burning was constitutionally protected speech. President Ronald Reagan appointed Justice Scalia to the Supreme Court in 1986.
Apr. 17: Fox News: Poll Shows 49% think the White House had IRS Target Conservative Groups:
Nearly half of American voters think the IRS targeted conservative groups at the request of the White House, and most want Congress to keep investigating the matter. The latest Fox News poll also finds 69 percent don’t feel President Obama has followed through on his vow to “find out exactly what happened on this.” By a 49-41 percent margin, voters believe the Obama administration “intentionally had the IRS target conservative political groups.” That includes 26 percent of Democrats, 52 percent of independents and 71 percent of Republicans.
The poll shows agreement across party lines: Majorities of Republicans (77 percent), independents (67 percent) and Democrats (57 percent) favor Congress continuing to investigate until “someone is held accountable.” Overall, 72 percent of voters disagree with the president when he says there is not even a “smidgen” of corruption regarding the IRS targeting conservative groups.
Apr. 16: Fox News: Uncovered IRS emails show Lerner talked with Justice about pursuing “political” groups
Newly uncovered emails show Lois Lerner, the key figure in the IRS scandal, was talking with the Justice Department about going after groups seeking tax-exempt status, just days before she publicly acknowledged the agency was targeting Tea Party and other organizations. The emails, obtained by Judicial Watch are another indication the targeting may have stretched deeper into the Obama administration. Lerner, the director of the agency’s Exempt Organizations division before retiring last year, initially said the targeting was limited to agents working in the IRS’ Cincinnati field office.
However, a series of inspector general and congressional probes since the scandal broke last year appear to show the targeting of mostly conservative-leaning groups seeking tax-exempt status was orchestrated in Washington. In a May 2013 email Lerner responded to a Justice Department inquiry about whether tax-exempt groups could be criminally prosecuted for lying about political activity. The series of emails suggest there was a coordinated effort between the IRS, the Justice Department, and the Federal Elections Commission to target conservative groups. Meanwhile President Obama told Fox News in February there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in connection with the targeting.
Apr. 15: The Daily Caller: Gohmert on Holder: “Partisan and extremely petty”
Republican Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert said that his recent heated exchange with Attorney General Eric Holder exposed Holder as a “partisan and extremely petty” individual and undermined Holder’s ability to defend the Obama administration on the IRS scandal in coming weeks. “I know what it’s like to be in the heat of a very nasty conversation. I perhaps have been in those kinds of conversations more than our attorney general. And that’s why his comments were so childish and lame,” Gohmert told The Daily Caller in a conference call Tuesday night.
“You don’t want to go there, buddy! You don’t want to go there okay,” Holder snapped at Gohmert at a Judiciary Committee oversight hearing last week after Gohmert mentioned Holder’s 2012 contempt of Congress charge over the Fast and Furious scandal. Holder then spoke last week at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network conference, telling a black audience, “it had nothing to do with me. Forget that. What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?” “John Mitchell got treated much, much worse than Eric Holder and he deserved it. He was even sent to prison and he still didn’t whine as much as this attorney general did and he didn’t go around calling people ‘buddy,’” said Gohmert.
“They need Eric Holder as attorney general to look completely above the fray, completely objective, for when they need him to go out and say there’s not a smidgeon of corruption in the IRS. [In last week's hearing] he exposed who he is and tried to come after who I am. He is not looking objective. He has shown himself to be quite partisan and extremely petty. They need him to appear credible when he isn’t.”
Apr. 15: The Washington Examiner:Ron Paul Group to Defy the IRS:
Ron Paul’s nonprofit Campaign for Liberty will fight the IRS’s demand that it reveal its donor list to the agency, despite having already been fined for refusing to do so. "There is no legitimate reason for the IRS to know who donates to Campaign for Liberty," Megan Stiles, the communications director at Campaign for Liberty, told the Washington Examiner in an email on Tuesday. "We believe the First Amendment is on our side as evidenced by cases such as NAACP v. Alabama and International Union UAW v. National Right to Work. Many 501(c)(4) organizations protect the privacy of their donors in the very same way as Campaign for Liberty. For some reason the IRS has now chosen to single out Campaign for Liberty for special attention. We plan to fight this all the way."
Ron Paul suggested that the group will refuse to pay the IRS fine in an fundraising email to supporters about the agency's request for information. "Paying this outrageous extortionist fine — just to exercise our rights as American citizens to petition our government — may even be cheaper in the short run," he wrote. "But it’ll just embolden an alphabet soup of other federal agencies to come after us." Paul's email said that the rule requiring that 501(c)(4)s list their donors is "rarely enforced."
Apr. 15: Fox News: IRS to revise regulations limiting activities of Tax-exempt groups after outcry:
The Internal Revenue Service plans to rewrite proposed regulations limiting the political activities of the same type of tax-exempt groups the agency was accused of targeting after backlash from GOP lawmakers and politically active nonprofit groups. IRS Commissioner Koskinen told USA Today on Monday that the agency will likely "re-propose a redefined rule and ask for more public comment." He expects the process will take "until the end of the year and beyond" to complete. Koskinen said the revised rule will take into account criticism from conservative groups concerned the regulations will put free speech rights at risk. Some liberal groups voiced concerns that the regulations could bar voter education and registration programs, Koskinen said.
Apr. 15: The Washington Examiner: Some Tax Deductions you never knew existed:
It's tax day! And if you waited until today to file, these weird deductions might be helpful. Or you might not want to deal with them and just get your taxes done as fast as possible. Whatever floats your boat. But if you are a penny pincher and want to give the government as little of your hard-earned cash as possible, these deductions might be for you.
Pet Moving: Did you get a new job? Besides deducting your regular moving expenses, you can also deduct your pet moving expenses.
Pet Fostering: Did you know you can deduct expenses for fostering an animal? If you’re taking care of a dog or cat while it’s waiting for adoption, you can deduct expenses for food, vet bills, cat litter and more.
Abortion Expenses: Have an abortion, get a tax deduction!
Clarinet Lessons: Does Junior have an overbite? Clarinet lessons might help, and then you can deduct the instrument and the lessons from your taxes.
Apr. 15: Fox News: How much will ObamaCare cost you in taxes?
On this April 15, filers and accountants alike are finding a new array of taxes resulting from the president’s health care legislation. These include at least 20 ObamaCare-related tax increases totaling $409 billion over the next ten years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. The new taxes are especially irksome to ObamaCare opponents, because they are imposed by a law that passed on a straight party-line vote and are being enforced by an agency that some accuse of party favoritism.
Among the new taxes are:
- A Medicare Tax Increase of .9% for individuals earning over $200,000 or married couples earning $250,000
-A net investment income tax of 3.8% tax on individuals, estates, and trusts worth more $200,000 or $250,000 for joint filers.
- And an increase in the threshold for itemized deductions for medical expenses from 7.5% to 10% of gross income.
There are also new taxes on insurance companies, drug makers, and medical device manufacturers. Architects of the Affordable Care Act say those businesses can afford it, given the millions of new customers they'll be serving. But one skeptic said the projected 10-year tax increases from ObamaCare are more than twice what the Joint Committee on Taxation forecasts. "It raises the costs of these things," said Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. "One of the promises of ObamaCare is that it will reduce costs. These more than a trillion dollars in tax increases on health care raise the cost of health care and that's why you're seeing the price of health care, the cost of insurance, going up, not down," he said.
Apr. 10: Fox News: House panel votes to hold ex-IRS “targeting “Official in Contempt of Congress:
A House committee voted Thursday to hold Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress, as Republicans escalated their bid to "get to the bottom" of the former IRS official's role in the political targeting scandal. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee voted 21-12 to hold Lerner in contempt. The party-line vote followed hours of heated debate on the committee. The contempt measure heads next to the House floor.
House Speaker John Boehner predicted earlier this week that unless Lerner agrees to cooperate, the full House will support contempt -- from there, the case would likely head to the courts. "This is not an action I take lightly," House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, R-Calif., said before the vote. But he said lawmakers "need Ms. Lerner's testimony to complete our oversight work and bring truth to the American people."
The vote comes a day after the House Ways and Means Committee voted to refer Lerner's case to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution. In a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, the committee claimed Lerner may have violated "one or more criminal statutes." The Department of Justice is not obligated to take up the committee's request.
Apr. 10: Fox News:Emails Show Ranking House Committee Member Asked the IRS for Information on True the Vote: Emails released by the House Oversight Committee show Democratic staff requested information from the IRS' tax-exempt division on True The Vote, a conservative group that monitors polling places for voter fraud. Apparently Cummings – the Ranking Democrat -- requested information from True the Vote in October 2012 on its volunteer activities and training. Five days later, the IRS sent True the Vote a letter requesting the group provide the agency with copies of its volunteer registration forms and additional information on its volunteer activities. Cummings' staff requested more information from the IRS about True the Vote in January 2013. Three days later, Lois Lerner wrote to her deputy Holly Paz: "Did we find anything?" and "check tomorrow please."
Continuing, from theWashington Free Beacon(April 9th): In a February 2014 Oversight Committee hearing, Cummings denied allegations by True The Vote attorney Cleta Mitchell who had said “We want to get to the bottom of how these coincidences happened, and we’re going to try to figure out whether any—if there was any staff of this committee that might have been involved in putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these Federal agencies. We don’t know that, but we—we’re going to do everything we can do to try to get to the bottom of how did this all happen.”
Cummings, who is opposed to the hearings on IRS targeting has responded that Mitchell’s statements are “…absolutely incorrect and not true.” Meanwhile Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and five subcommittee chairmen sent a letter to Cummings Thursday demanding an explanation for his staff’s activities. “Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, communication records between your staff and to consider a resolution holding Ms. Lerner, a participant in responding to your communications that you failed to disclose, in contempt of Congress, you have an obligation to fully explain your staff’s undisclosed contacts with the IRS.”
Apr. 10: Fox News: The Lois Leaner Files: The Case for Contempt of Congress: The House Ways and Means Committee released a letter Wednesday detailing what it believes to be criminal misconduct by Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the ongoing IRS Tea Party targeting scandal. For those who want to understand how partisan bureaucrats can manipulate a powerful federal agency, the letter is a must-read.
The list of newly-disclosed acts of political bias and manipulation include:
- After meeting with an outside group (Democracy 21) that claimed both conservative and liberal groups were violating IRS rules, Lerner chose to focus like a laser only on the conservative groups, with particular emphasis on one of the largest, Crossroads GPS, including demands to know why Crossroads had not yet been audited combined with plans to deny Crossroads’ application for tax exempt status. No such similar interest was shown toward liberal groups;
- Lerner attempted to direct the IRS’s independent appeals process by offering a “general tutorial session” on the “law and complexities” of the 501(c)(4) regulations – regulations that had been in place for years and had been applied without incident or significant controversy when approving many of the largest liberal organizations, like the ACLU, the NAACP, and Moveon.org.
- She misled the Treasury IG when he investigated complaints of IRS targeting, using – without any evidence – the now-familiar talking point that the IRS was responding to an “uptick” in applications that “contained indicators of potentially significant amounts of political campaign intervention.” Yet she had already gone hunting for evidence of this “uptick” – to justify her talking point – and found none. In fact, an IRS official, Nanlee Park flatly told her that “we [the IRS] do not have a reliable method for tracking data by issue such as political activity.”
- She misled the Inspector General saying she first learned the Be On the Lookout (BOLO) referencing the “tea party” on June 29, 2011, while the record shows she was focusing on the Tea Party as early as April 28, 2010, ongoing references in the months following;
- In violation of IRS policy, she sent large amounts of confidential taxpayer information from her IRS email account to her personal email account, then back again, raising questions about cyber security for the personal data being sent and whether it was shared with anyone else – in violation of U.S. law.
At this point, anyone claiming there’s not a “smidgen” of corruption in the IRS targeting scandal is willfully blind to the facts and the law. The Ways and Means report raises the possibility that Lerner (and perhaps others) violated a number of federal statutes. It’s clear – regardless of criminality -- that they also violated the Constitution.
Since Lerner has ignored a Congressional subpoena – refused to answer questions on two occasions by pleading the Fifth Amendment. A growing number of legal experts believe she waived her constitutional right to remain silent because she invoked it only after she publicly proclaimed her innocence.
Apr. 8: Fox News: Contempt vote set for Lerner, House Report lays out allegations
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee formally laid out its allegations against Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the Tea Party targeting scandal, in a report Tuesday -- ahead of a scheduled committee vote on whether to hold her in contempt of Congress. The committee plans to vote Thursday on holding her in contempt for failing to testify twice before the panel. On Wednesday, a separate committee will consider referring her case to the Justice Department for possible criminal prosecution. The moves come after lawmakers tried repeatedly to press Lerner for answers about the tax collecting agency and its targeting practices against conservative groups. “Lois Lerner’s testimony is critical to the committee’s investigation,” the oversight report states. “Without her testimony, the full extent of the IRS’s targeting of Tea Party applications cannot be known, and the committee will be unable to fully complete its work.”
The report details Lerner’s role in the Tea Party cases, including emails she sent to Michael Seto, manager of the Technical Office within the Exempt Organization division. In a Feb. 1. 2011 email, Lerner wrote that "Tea Party Matter very dangerous" and ordered the Office of Chief Counsel to get involved, according to the report. She also pushed to pull the cases out of the Cincinnati office altogether, advising Seto that "Cincy should probably NOT have these cases." Seto testified before the committee that Lerner ordered a "multi-tier" review for the test applications, a process that involved her senior technical advisor and the Office of Chief Counsel. Later, Lerner, after being told about a backlog of more than 100 cases, “ordered her staff to adjust the criteria,” according to the report. The report repeatedly called out for Lerner for refusing to cooperate with the committee’s investigation.
Apr. 8: Fox News:Krauthammer on IRS Scandal: “The administration wants to stonewall”
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said Tuesday on “Special Report with Bret Baier” that despite measures in the House to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress for her refusal to testify, the investigation into the IRS targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups is likely going nowhere. “Nothing will come of the contempt vote. Nothing will come of the DOJ investigation, because the administration has no interest in investigating,” Krauthammer said. He added that while the president began the investigation into the scandal expressing astonishment and outrage, that dismay has all but disappeared. “The administration wants to stonewall,” Krauthammer said, “If the press is not willing to do anything on its own because it is not interested, then [the administration] will probably succeed…It looks as if the trail is cold.”
Mar. 26: Fox News: Issa: IRS Chief could face contempt over Lerner emails:
The chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee threatened to hold the IRS commissioner in contempt of Congress if he does not turn over emails from embattled ex-IRS official Lois Lerner and others. In another heated congressional hearing on the IRS targeting scandal, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA, questioned IRS boss John Koskinen on why his agency still has not produced documents subpoenaed by his committee. The chairman wants to see all of Lerner's and other agency officials' emails since 2009, to look for political motivations that might have been behind the practice of singling out conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. The last subpoena went out Feb. 14.
"We issued you a lawful subpoena," Issa told the commissioner, adding that delivering all emails from the four officials flagged is "not difficult." Koskinen repeatedly pledged, in general, to "continue to work with you" on the investigation. Issa, seemingly frustrated by the responses, said he expects Koskinen to comply "or potentially be held in contempt." Issa is also weighing whether to pursue contempt proceedings against Lerner herself, for refusing to testify about her role in the targeting -- Lerner is the former head of the Exempt Organizations Division.
Republicans argue they need to see Lerner's emails in part because she refuses to testify before the committee. Earlier this month, Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right not to answer questions before the House oversight panel for a second time.
Mar. 24: The Daily Caller: IRS Commissioner to testify but still no contempt of Congress for Lerner:
Ex-IRS official Lois Lerner lives the life of a free private citizen at her more than $2.4 million Bethesda, Maryland property as congressional investigators continue to sit on possible contempt charges. In the meantime, the top House committee probing the IRS scandal will interview an IRS official who was not at the agency at the time of the conservative targeting. Lerner has retreated from public view since pleading the Fifth Amendment again at a March 5 hearing. Her attorney Bill Taylor said that she will not return to the spotlight or give another interview unless compelled.
Lerner sat for a “Q+A” with DOJ lawyers that was not under oath, but has still refused to answer Issa’s questions about her role in the targeting scandal. Issa and Oversight member Rep. Jim Jordan recently sent a letter to Attorney General Holder requesting “All documents and communications referring or relating to the scope, timing, and scheduling of the DOJ’s interview of Lois Lerner” and “All documents and communications between or among the DOJ, or other federal law enforcement agencies, and Lois Lerner or her counsel referring or relating to immunity for Ms. Lerner.”
Mar. 11: The Daily Caller:Six Reasons Lerner Waived Her 5th Amendment Rights:
A report released Tuesday by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform asserted that ex-IRS official Lois Lerner waived her Fifth Amendment rights. Lerner continues to stonewall California Rep. Darrell Issa’s committee, pleading the Fifth again in a divisive Oversight hearing last Wednesday convened to get to the bottom of the IRS’ improper targeting of conservative groups between 2010 and 2012. Oversight member Rep. Jim Jordan said the committee is “moving” toward holding Lerner in contempt of Congress to compel her to testify. A report released by the committee contends Lerner gave up her 5th amendment rights because:
She gave a voluntary statement at the May 22, 2013 hearings
She authenticated a document during the hearing
The committee feels her testimony under oath should be treated the same way it would in a court, when she made a statement she waived her 5th amendment rights
Lerner’s private interview with the Department of Justice weakens the credibility of her 5th amendment claim
Mar. 8: The Daily Caller: Will the IRS investigate the “left-wing” non-profit Center for American Progress?
The IRS still has not responded to allegations from a former Center for American Progress (CAP) employee that the left-wing think tank coordinates on editorial content with the White House — revelations that could threaten the organization’s nonprofit status. Former ThinkProgress reporter Zaid Jilani wrote a piece this week detailing his experiences working for the liberal blog, which is run by CAP’s 501(c)(4) nonprofit Action Fund, the advocacy arm of White House counselor John Podesta’s think tank.
“…phone calls from the White House started pouring in, berating my bosses for being critical of Obama on this [the surge in Afghanistan] policy… …Soon afterwards all of us ThinkProgress national security bloggers were called into a meeting with CAP senior staff and basically berated for opposing the Afghan war and creating daylight between us and Obama… …What that meeting with CAP senior staff showed me was that they viewed being closer to Obama and aligning with his policy as more important than demonstrating progressive principle, if that meant breaking with Obama.”
While CAP is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the CAP Action Fund is a 501(c)(4), meaning that it will be subject to new restrictions on candidate-related political activity under IRS rules devised in part by ex-IRS official Lois Lerner who plead the 5th Amendment before Congress.
Mar. 6: The Daily Mail:Cruz tells CPAC: We need to abolish the IRS! Senator Cruz (R-TX) told those attending the CPAC meeting near Washington he wants to replace the IRS with a smaller agency that would collect postcard-sized income tax returns based upon a “Flat” tax rate. He would also wants to repeal ObamaCare. The best line of the speech was 'By virtue of your being here today,' he jokingly cautioned the nation's largest annual gathering of politically conservative activists, 'tomorrow each and every one of you is going to be audited by the IRS.'
Mar. 5: The Daily Mail: IRS “Villian” Lerner Refuses again to testify
about TEA Party Targeting; may risk arrest for contempt of Congress:
The one-time head of the U.S. tax authority's branch overseeing nonprofits won't testify about a years-long scheme to target conservative groups. Congress has the power to hold her in contempt, try her and imprison her in the Capitol jail. That power hasn't been used in more than 75 years but used to be common in bribery and other cases. After the Republican chair of the House Oversight Committee quickly adjourned Wednesday's hearing, his Democratic counterpart went 'ballistic.'
Four separate Supreme Court rulings have confirmed the right of Congress to incarcerate Americans for contempt, although it hasn't been done in more than 75 years. A July 2007 Congressional Research Service Report spells out the process: 'The individual is brought before the House or Senate by the sergeant at arms, tried at the bar of the body, and can be imprisoned in the Capitol jail.'
In June 2012 the full House of Representatives voted to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt after he refused to hand over documents relating to the botched Operation Fast and Furious gun-running sting. Holder wasn't arrested, largely because he heads the federal law enforcement agency that would be responsible for taking him into custody.
Lerner's lawyer William Taylor has played a cat-and mouse game with committee Republicans for the past week, at first saying she faced death threats and wouldn't appear, then offering to produce her at a sworn deposition, and at one point saying she would only answer questions if she were immune from prosecution.
Mar. 5: The Washington Examiner: Obama charged with blocking IRS probe, breaking promises to help:
A House chairman probing the IRS scandal on Wednesday said that President Obama has reneged on a promise to have his aides cooperate with the investigation, forcing the Ways and Means Committee to conduct a dragnet for emails and documents needed to smoke out the truth. Rep. Dave Camp also revealed that federal agents conducting an investigation into the Internal Revenue Service's bid to punish TEA Party and conservative critics of the president have yet to talk to a single target of the scandal.
Camp, whose committee is one of several looking into the 2010-2013 scandal, put the blame for the drawn out investigations on Capitol Hill at the president’s feet. “I don’t fully understand why it’s taken them so long given that the president promised,” Camp said at a media roundtable hosted by the Christian Science Monitor. “He promised that he would have quick action and we still don’t have the documents from an agency that is in this administration."
His committee has been frustrated with the administration's failure to cough up emails from Lois Lerner, who ran the IRS department that blocked Tea Party groups from winning the typically quick approval of tax exempt status. Lerner was on Capitol Hill Wednesday where she refused to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. “I still don’t have all of her emails. I still don’t have all of the documents that I’ve requested. The administration promised a quick action, and I’m still waiting for her emails,” said Camp, a Michigan Republican. “I need all of those, before I can conclude.”
Mar. 3: Fox News: IRS emails shed light on dispute between Lerner and Congressional Investigators:
Emails obtained by Fox News continue to shed light on the ongoing dispute between congressional lawmakers and former IRS official Lois Lerner over her long-sought testimony on the IRS targeting scandal. The release of the emails follows a bizarre public back-and-forth on Sunday that started when committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA., told “Fox News Sunday,” that Lerner, a central figure in the targeting scandal, would testify, after pleading the Fifth Amendment last year.
Within minutes, Lerner lawyer William Taylor said he was still under the assumption his client would assert her constitutional right not to testify – a statement followed by committee spokesman Frederick Hill saying he had written proof that Lerner would testify Wednesday. Hill said Monday the panel does not typically disclose discussions about possible public testimony. But in the case of Lerner, the emails were made available “to set the record straight on offers made by her attorney about her willingness to testify and answer questions without any grant of immunity." The House committee continues to investigate the IRS in its 2012 targeting of Tea Party groups and other politically conservative organizations trying to get tax-exempt status.
Feb.26: Fox News: House GOP unveil tax reform plan
House Republicans on Wednesday unveiled a comprehensive overhaul of the nation's convoluted tax system, urging their colleagues to once and for all hammer out a simpler tax code -- but running into skepticism from party leaders out of the gate. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mi, wrote the plan, which was three years in the making, and included some ideas touted by President Obama. Among other changes, the plan would reduce income tax rates and establish just two brackets. It would also hit investment managers, big banks and top earners with additional taxes and fees to offset those revenue losses.
"This is a comprehensive plan that reflects input and ideas championed by Congress, the administration and, most importantly, the American people," Camp said. "In other words, it recognizes that everyone is a part of this effort and can benefit when we have a code that is simpler and fairer." One of the plan's goals would be to bolster the standard deduction and increase the child tax credit while trimming other deductions, exemptions and credits. As a result, 95 percent of filers would take the standard deduction rather than itemize, according to analysis by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation.
Feb. 22: New York Post: Christine O’Donnell: I was a victim of the IRS
Whether Democrat or Republican, do you really want your private tax information leaked with impunity? On March 9, 2010, around 10 a.m., I announced my plans to run for senate representing Delaware. Later that same day, my office received a call from a reporter asking about my taxes. It’s since come out, after a halting and unenthusiastic investigation, that a Delaware Department of Revenue employee named David Smith accessed my records that day at approximately 2 p.m. — out of curiosity, he says. That these records ended up in the hands of the press is just a coincidence, the IRS claims. To add insult to injury, the tax records given to the reporters weren’t even accurate. I had never fallen behind on my taxes, and a supposed tax lien was on a house I no longer owned. The lien was highly publicized and used as political ammunition by my political opponents. The IRS later withdrew the lien and blamed it on a computer glitch but, at that point, the damage — and the invasion of my privacy — was done.
I wasn’t the only one preyed upon by the IRS, of course. The agency admits to targeting conservative nonprofits, asking them for membership lists and other data not required while delaying their tax-exempt status. And opponents of President Obama have been subjected to audits soon after criticizing the administration. (See the testimony of the founder of the King Street Patriots on this Website)
Feb. 21: The Hill: House GOP to go after the IRS:
Less than two months before taxes are due, House Republicans will pass a slate of bills aimed at protecting taxpayers from Internal Revenue Service abuses. The House GOP also plans to move legislation that would force the government to reveal more clearly how taxpayer money is being spent. Republicans' legislative plans follow a year of constant scrutiny of the IRS, after the tax collection agency admitted it improperly targeted for extra scrutiny conservative groups applying for tax exempt status, delaying their approval. Many Republicans said that act was an overtly political attempt to prevent these groups from having an impact in the 2012 election.
Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL) is the author of two of the bills to be considered next week, both of which respond to the targeting scandal. "Practically every day, there's news of a new scandal at the IRS, and unfortunately it seems the administration is incapable of getting the IRS under control and restoring faith in the agency," Roskam said last year when he proposed the legislation. "The targeting of individuals by the IRS based on their political and social beliefs cuts to the core of American's trust in government, and it's time to institute reforms in order to protect taxpayers from further abuse."
One of his bills is the Taxpayer Transparency and Efficient Audit Act, H.R. 2530. This bill would require the IRS to tell taxpayers when it shares their tax information with another government agency, and limits the time people can be subjected to an IRS audit to one year. Republicans are wary the IRS will improperly share personal tax information with other agencies as it tries to implement ObamaCare and make determinations about who might qualify for tax credits when buying health insurance.
The other Roskam bill up next week is the Protecting Taxpayers from Intrusive IRS Requests Act, H.R. 2531. This bill would prevent the IRS from asking about people's religious or political beliefs. Both bills will be called up under a suspension of House rules which requires a 2/3's vote for passage, meaning at least some Democrat votes will be required for final passage.
Feb. 16: The Hill: Tax Code a “rotten, dysfunctional mess,” new Senate Finance chairman Wyden says:
The new head of the Senate Finance Committee wants to renew more than 50 tax breaks that expired at the end of 2013 as his first goals in the post. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said on Bloomberg TV’s “Political Capital” that the measures, known as tax extenders, will be the first in a “two-step drill” toward more comprehensive tax reform. “My first choice would be to first go to comprehensive tax reform, rather than to have to proceed with the extenders,” he said.
The current tax code, he said, is a “rotten, dysfunctional mess,” but renewing the tax extenders can be a “bridge” on which both Democrats and Republicans can agree. Wyden did not give a specific timeframe for renewing the tax breaks, but indicated that he would like to tackle the issue in the next few months. More comprehensive reform, meanwhile, may take much longer.
Feb. 16: The Hill: A bad omen for Pentagon Budget?
The swift work in Congress to repeal $6 billion in cuts to military pensions that passed just two months earlier is a bad omen for future efforts to curb military personnel costs, budget analysts say. Congress included the reductions in military retirement pay as part of the December budget deal, but it quickly reversed course amid a major backlash from veterans groups. “It is definitely a step backwards and is going to make future efforts much more difficult,” said Ed Lorenzen, a senior adviser to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “The lesson unfortunately that a lot of members took from this effort is that doing anything that effects military retirees is going to be too politically difficult.”
The pension cuts in the budget deal — which reduced the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for working age retirees by one-percentage point below inflation — were seen as a test case by both opponents and proponents of curbing military compensation costs. Budget hawks have warned that growing personnel costs threaten the rest of the Pentagon’s budget, as increases in healthcare, pay and other benefits are eating up a bigger chunk of the military budget.
Feb. 13: The Hill:Vulnerable Democrats want IRS to step up restrictions on campaign spending:
Senate Democrats facing tough elections this year want the Internal Revenue Service to play a more aggressive role in regulating outside groups expected to spend millions of dollars on their races. In the wake of the IRS targeting scandal, the Democrats are publicly prodding the agency instead of lobbying them directly. They are also careful to say the IRS should treat conservative and liberal groups equally, but they’re concerned about an impending tidal wave of attack ads funded by GOP-allied organizations. Much of the funding for those groups is secret, in contrast to the donations lawmakers collect, which must be reported publicly. C-Span:Catherine Engelbrecht Testifies before Congress:
Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote and the King Street Patriots, relates her experiences after she applied for tax exempt status through the IRS. Her story includes visits from multiple federal agencies such as the FBI, ATF, and OSHA, numerous audits by the IRS, and intrusive questioning by the IRS as to her personal information. She claims she will not be deterred by this harassment and federal invasion of her privacy and is suing the internal Revenue Service.
Feb. 12: The Daily Caller:Claims: Obama IRS nonprofit rules violate federal law:
The Obama administration violated federal law with its new proposed IRS rule for nonprofit groups and for making a false statement about that rule, according to claims by multiple attorneys and reported by The Daily Caller. The administration’s extensive new IRS rule for 501(c)(4) nonprofit groups was secretly devised by disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner and other Obama administration officials while the IRS was targeting conservative nonprofit groups between 2010 and 2012. The rule, which contains many provisions, would place much more stringent controls on what would be considered political activity by the IRS, effectively limiting the standard practices of a wide array of nonprofit groups.
The Republican-proposed Stop Targeting of Political Beliefs by the IRS Act to block the new rule passed a House committee Tuesday but is not expected to pass into law. But the Obama administration’s rule may be shut down for its own illegality. The Paperwork Reduction Act requires government agencies to estimate its new programs’ paperwork burden for the public before receiving Office of Management and Budget (OMB) approval. Legal experts are telling the Daily Caller “The IRS grossly underestimates the record-keeping burden” of the new rule, claiming two violations of the Paperwork Reduction Act.
Feb. 7: Americans for Tax Reform:Olympics: Achieve Glory and Pay Up to the IRS!
As 230 U.S. Olympic athletes gear up to compete in the 2014 Winter Games, the only thing colder than the slopes at Sochi is the fact that any prizes awarded by the U.S. Olympic Commission (USOC) will be taxed by the IRS. Many Americans don't realize that the U.S. taxes income earned abroad, and as such even the winnings of Olympic athletes are subject to the reach of the IRS. The USOC awards prizes to U.S. Olympic medal winners: $25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver, and $10,000 for bronze. Relative to each athlete's income tax bracket, some top earners such as Shaun White could end up paying over a third (39.6 percent) of their winnings to the IRS.
Additionally, because the U.S. is one of only a handful of developed countries that tax income earned abroad, it is likely America's competitors will not be subject to such a tax. Taken together - the tax on Olympic athletes and the tax on income earned abroad - it can be said the U.S. has officially "earned the Gold" for having one of the most backwards and illogical tax codes in the world.
Feb. 6: Fox Nation: The IRS Scandal is Still Going on Today [Page on Fox Nation moved or removed]
During a congressional hearing into the Internal Revenue Services’ admitted targeting of conservative groups prior to the 2012 election cycle, an attorney representing some of those groups severely chastised President Barack Obama for asserting during an interview with Fox News Channel host Bill O’Reilly that there was not a “smidgen” of corruption at that agency. After citing a number of items of evidence which support the claim that the IRS unfairly targeted conservative groups, attorney Jay Sekulow said that the IRS scandal goes “as high as it gets.”
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) began by asking attorney Cleta Mitchell if she agreed with the president’s argument that the IRS was targeting both liberal and conservative groups with undue scrutiny. “Absolutely false,” Mitchell replied. She cited a report which revealed that of 162 organizations being scrutinized by the IRS, 83 percent of them were conservative groups. She went on to identify an instance where one of those liberal groups was approved much faster than the conservative group, prompting laughs from the assembled members of Congress. Sekulow focused on the “chilling effect” that has resulted from the IRS’s targeting of conservatives. He cited a pro-life group that was scrutinized and asked “draconian” questions about that group’s mission.
Feb. 6: Fox News:Learner Helped Craft New Crackdown on Tax Exempt Political Targeting:
The official at the center of the IRS scandal involving the targeting of President Obama’s political enemies secretly helped craft new rules for the agency that critics say would make such heavy-handed tactics legal. Emails obtained by the House Ways and Means Committee show IRS executive Lois Lernerworking on the new rules in secret with Obama Treasury officials at the height of the targeting. Lerner has refused to testify before Congress amid the criminal investigation into misconduct at the agency. The regulations, which are currently pending, would allow the IRS to crack down on political activity by non-profit groups. A June 2012 email from a Treasury official to Lerner suggests that they work “off plan” – bureaucratic shorthand for keeping their meetings off of publicly available schedules – to devise the rules. Critics say the rules that resulted would permit agents to shut down dissent by non-profit groups.
Feb. 6: Fox News:
Targeted True the Vote Founder files ethics complaint against Ranking Congressman she claims tried to intimidate her:
A conservative activist targeted by the IRS and other agencies claimed Thursday that Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings also tried to intimidate her, filing a formal complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics alleging an "abuse of power." Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote and the King Street Patriots, aired the allegations during a hearing hosted by the committee on which Cummings sits. An attorney working with her also questioned whether Cummings might have encouraged the IRS and other agencies to target her groups.
At issue are letters Cummings sent out voicing concerns about True the Vote, which advocates for strict voter ID requirements and other measures which Democratic lawmakers, including Cummings, oppose. "Congressman Cummings on three separate occasions sent letters on letterhead from this committee, stating that he had concerns and felt it necessary to open an investigation on True the Vote," Engelbrecht said during the hearing, where she and other witnesses were otherwise testifying on IRS targeting. She also said that after she applied for tax-exempt status, "an assortment of federal entities including law enforcement agencies, and Congressman Cummings came knocking at my door."
Engelbrecht later told Fox News that Cummings "wanted to know about all of our practices and alleged things that we simply weren't doing." Separately, she described how she was visited by the FBI six times, and audited by the IRS -- and scrutinized by other federal agencies. "All of these things they have the right to do and we honored and worked with every single agency, but the question remains not that they came but who pointed them at us?" she said.
Feb. 3: The Daily Caller:Obama’s intervention in the FBI investigation is fine, White House Says:
White House spokesman Jay Carney Monday waved off concerns over the president’s prime-time public interference in the FBI investigation of the Internal Revenue Service. “Obviously we do not interfere with Justice Department investigations,” Carney said when he was asked about President Obama’s statement just before the Super Bowl that there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in his IRS’ decision to deny routine fundraising rights and legal protections to TEA party political groups during the 2012 campaign.
Obama’s public intervention during a FBI investigation might amount to obstruction of justice, said one lawyer who has been watching the scandal. If the president is “engaged in any activity designed to influence the Department of Justice from impartially and adequately fulfilling their duties, that’s obstruction,” the lawyer said. If Obama was “ordering [investigators] to stand down as they get close to something that is embarrassing, that is when you’re getting into obstruction territory,” the lawyer said. However, “we don’t have any evidence that is going on,” the lawyer said.
Feb. 1: The Daily Caller: D’souza says he is going to proceed with work on next film:
Conservative writer and documentarian Dinesh D’Souza is not intimidated by the federal election-law charges filed against him late last week. “I’m going to proceed with my work and my ideas and the film will be unimpeded by what’s going on,” D’Souza told The Daily Caller, referring to his forthcoming feature documentary “America,” which he said will “knock out the moral underpinning of modern progressivism.”
D’souza was indicted Thursday for election fraud for allegedly using straw donors to contribute $20,000 to the losing New York U.S. Senate campaign of his friend, Wendy Long. Facing a maximum of two years in prison, D’Souza pled not guilty and made $500,000 bail. Obama appointee Preet Bharara, the publicity-savvy New York Southern District U.S. Attorney who brought the charges, is speculated to be a top prospect for an Attorney General job in a Hillary Clinton administration. Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz suggested that the charges are politically motivated, but Cruz’s comments were edited out of a CBS “Face the Nation” transcript.
Jan. 29: Fox News: Millions of Calls to the IRS Go Unanswered!
Have a question on your tax returns? Don't ask the IRS. As tax day looms, an annual watchdog report to Congress finds the IRS is falling short when it comes to answering Americans' questions about the convoluted tax code. The National Taxpayer Advocate found only 61 percent of people seeking to speak with a customer service representative last year got through to anybody -- leaving nearly 20 million calls unanswered. The report largely blamed budget cuts, and lamented the impact the poor customer service is having on taxpayers. "At the risk of vast understatement, it is a sad state of affairs when the government writes tax laws as complex as ours -- and then is unable to answer any questions beyond 'basic' ones from baffled citizens who are doing their best to comply," the report from National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said.
The study detailed how customer service has steadily declined over the past several years, including at its 400 "walk-in sites." In fiscal 2014, the office said, the IRS will only answer "basic" questions at those sites during filing season. And it will not answer any questions, "even basic ones," after April, even for filers who got extensions. "In addition, the IRS will discontinue its longstanding practice of preparing tax returns for low income, elderly and disabled taxpayers who seek help," the report said.
With the erosion in services, wait times have gone up. In fiscal 2004, callers were left on hold for just 2.6 minutes. Today, the average wait time is nearly 18 minutes. Some taxpayers resort to writing letters to the IRS with their questions. The agency received 8.4 million such letters last year, but more than half were not answered by the end of fiscal 2013, the report said.
Jan. 27: Fox News: Filmmaker prosecution revives accusations of conservative targeting:
Less than a year after the IRS admitted to singling out TEA Party and other like-minded groups, federal agencies and prosecutors once again are facing accusations of going tougher on conservatives than their liberal counterparts. In a case that riled conservative filmmakers and producers, federal prosecutors last week announced campaign finance charges against Dinesh D'Souza, the documentarian behind an anti-President Obama film released during the 2012 presidential campaign.
D'Souza pleaded not guilty on Friday. But colleagues rallied to D'Souza's defense, calling the decision to prosecute the case politically motivated. "When you make a film that hits the president between the eyes and could shift an election, you become a target," conservative filmmaker Dennis Michael Lynch told Fox News, referring to D'Souza's "2016: Obama's America." Producer Gerald Molen, in a statement to FoxNews.com, called it a "selective prosecution."
Jan. 23: Roll Call: Schumer: Administration and IRS Must “Redouble Efforts” on campaign finance enforcement:
Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-NY, said Thursday that Democrats, the administration and the IRS must immediately “redouble” efforts to close loopholes created by a recent Supreme Court ruling that opened the floodgates for money into politics. “One of the great advantages the tea party has is the huge holes in our campaign finance laws created this ill-advised decision,” said Schumer, referring to Citizens United, in an afternoon speech at the Center for American Progress. “Obviously, the tea party elites gained extraordinary influence by being able to funnel millions of dollars into campaigns with ads that distort the truth and attack government.”
Schumer suggested administration action on campaign finance at the end of his speech — making it appear like an afterthought. But his remarks on campaign finance — a frequent topic for the senator — provided one of the few actionable items for Democratic efforts to marginalize the tea party. “This is not the place for a broad discussion of this issue, and it is clear that we will not pass anything legislatively as long as the House of Representatives is in Republican control, but there are many things that can be done administratively by the IRS and other government agencies – we must redouble those efforts immediately,” the New York Democrat continued.
Jan. 13: Market Watch:Criminal charges not expected in IRS Probe:
The FBI doesn’t plan to file criminal charges over the IRS heightened scrutiny of conservative groups, according to law-enforcement officials, a move that likely will only intensify debate over the politically charged scandal. The officials said investigators didn’t find the kind of political bias or “enemy hunting” that would amount to a violation of criminal law. Instead, what emerged during the probe was evidence of a mismanaged bureaucracy enforcing rules about tax-exemption applications it didn’t understand, according to the law-enforcement officials. While the case is still being investigated and could remain open for months, officials familiar with its progress said it is increasingly unlikely any criminal charges will result. That could change, the officials cautioned, if unexpected evidence is discovered that alters their thinking.
With this year’s midterm elections heating up, the FBI’s decision will feed both parties’ stories about why -- or whether -- the IRS scandal mattered. Since the outset, Republicans have voiced skepticism that the Obama administration would properly investigate itself. Last week, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, challenged the impartiality of a Justice Department prosecutor handling the case because she had made donations to the Obama campaign. Democrats have maintained there was no criminal wrongdoing on the part of IRS agents, contending that the IRS’s intent wasn’t to punish or hamstring conservative groups because liberal groups received similar scrutiny of their tax filings.
Jan. 11: Fox News: Conservatives question Chamber’s plan to spend millions to defeat TEA Party-style candidates in 2014
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says it will back “pro-business” candidates against Tea Party-styled opponents in this year’s elections, largely in response to conservative lawmakers fueling last year's partial government shutdown fight. “In 2014, the chamber will work to protect and expand a pro-business majority in the House and advance our position and our influence in the Senate,” Chamber President and CEO Tom Donohue said Wednesday. “We will support candidates who want to work within the legislative process.” “The Tea Party has lots of good ideas,” Donohue said. “But those people are not helping us.”
Dan Holler, spokesman for Heritage Action for American, says conservatives are also interested in economic growth and job creation and suggested the chamber’s efforts might be more about Big Business protecting its influence in Washington and beyond. “If ‘pro-business’ candidates are interested in removing government impediments to growth and job creation, they'll find support amongst conservatives,” Holler told FoxNews.com on Saturday. “But few Americans are clamoring for well-connected special interest groups to use their political connections to secure government-sponsored privileges.”
His comments were similar to those of Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks, which often backs Tea Party candidates. “It looks to me like the chamber is more interested in protecting incumbents and the special deals of some of their members, and that’s where we’re going to disagree in primaries,” Kibbe told Bloomberg News. “Our attitude is that the Tea Party Express is looking for strong candidates who are both fiscal conservatives and have an excellent prospect for winning,” group co-founder Sal Russo told FoxNews.com on Saturday. "The biggest problem in Congress today is the Harry Reid and Obama controlled Senate. Both the Tea Party and the business community should be united in finding those good candidates who are committed to growing the economy with lower taxes and less burdensome regulations and providing hope and opportunity to all Americans. Picking needless fights is foolhardy.”
Jan. 10: Fox News: Lawyer says FBI has contacted few TEA Party groups, eight months into the IRS Scandal A lawyer representing dozens of Tea Party groups said Friday that only a few of his clients have been approached by federal investigators over the IRS targeting scandal, in the latest complaint about the slow pace of the probe eight months after the original admission. Concerns continue to mount that the government is slow-walking its investigation into unfair practices by the IRS. The latest complaint comes a day after lawmakers revealed that the individual leading the Justice Department probe is a political supporter of President Obama.
Jordan Sekulow, a lawyer representing 41 organizations in 22 states in a federal lawsuit, told FoxNews.com that very few of his clients have been approached by FBI investigators to date. “We’re talking single digits right now,” Sekulow told FoxNews.com. He said they were only approached recently. Sekulow echoes the frustrations of those who say the government is biding its time following allegations last spring that the IRS had targeted conservative groups applying for non-exempt tax status. “The DOJ has done very little to move this investigation forward,” Sekulow said. “It has even stonewalled Congress, recently rescinding an offer to provide Congress an in-person briefing about the investigation’s progress.”
Jan. 8: BreitBart.com News: Obama donor to head the IRS targeting investigation: The attorney heading the internal investigation into potential unfair targeting of conservative groups by the IRS is a frequent and significant donor to both the Democratic National Committee and President Obama, Rep. Darrell Issa revealed today, in what he calls a "startling conflict of interest" that jeopardizes the investigation. Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder revealing new information that reached the committee on who is conducting the internal investigations at the IRS regarding the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups. Seeking an explanation as to why the FBI has been unresponsive to the committee, Issa noted that current and former IRS officials revealed Barbara Bosserman, a trial attorney within the IRS's Civil Rights Commission, is leading the internal investigation.
Bosserman's leadership raises all sorts of questions about the investigation's fairness. Issa's investigations revealed that she has been a loyal financial backer of the DNC since 2004 and has donated multiple times personally to President Obama's two campaigns. Her personal donation total reaches $6,750 to both the party and President Obama. Choosing someone so openly and obviously partisan to lead an investigation into partisan targeting of opposition groups is "unbelievable" and "highly inappropriate," Issa asserted and demands of the Attorney General immediate action to both remove Bosserman from leading the investigation and remedy any damage that may have occurred due to her involvement.
The White House has been notoriously silent despite its apparent involvement in unfairly targeting 501(c)(4)s and other political civic action committees aligned with the Tea Party for more thorough investigations into whether their political advocacy was proper. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney called the targeting a "phony scandal" when questioned about the matter, and the White House has attempted to argue that progressive political groups also found themselves in the IRS's crosshairs. However, more than eighty percent of the 162 groups targeted in one case investigating inappropriate political "propaganda" were Tea Party-affiliated or otherwise anti-Obama groups.