The IRS just released its “dirty dozen” list of tax scams and schemes for the American people to avoid. In addition to normal phishing and identity theft, a slew of new phone scams around the nation has caught many taxpayers off guard. Plus, unscrupulous return preparers take advantage of confused Americans, especially given that 60 percent of taxpayers need assistance figuring out all those documents, tables, and exemptions. The list also warns the less honest among us to avoid hiding money offshore, in abusive tax shelters, or with false documents. Additionally, it urges people not to falsify income or claim too much in fuel tax credits, either.
But there is an even more concerning “dirty dozen” list that the IRS wants the public to forget.
It’s been almost two years since the news broke that the IRS had been targeting Tea Party, pro-Israel, and other conservative groups — and a scandal erupted. Here are just a select few ways the IRS has mismanaged its problems and shown itself to be incompetent and untrustworthy:
1. Internal emails show these groups were targeted because IRS employees thought them “icky.”
2. Other emails showed that Lois Lerner was conspiring with the Department of Justice to prosecute conservative groups on trumped-up charges.
3. Lerner herself refused to testify to investigating committees and was held in contempt.
4. That didn’t stop her from defending herself to Politico magazine and complaining about being “harassed” for her role.
5. Then, the IRS claimed it had lost the most crucial batch of Lerner’s emails.
6. Oh yeah, and her Blackberry was destroyed too.
7. Six months later, the Tax Inspector General may have found those lost emails. (Still no word yet on what was in them.)
Scandal events aside, the IRS showed its general incompetence in many other ways.
8. IRS workers campaigned for political candidates while on the job.
9. The agency awarded bonuses to its own employees who owed taxes.
10. Guess who was audited ten times more often than the average taxpayer? Supporters of the Tea Party.
12. And it has the nerve to constantly ask for a raise.
It all adds up to an agency that doesn’t merit the trust of taxpayers.
For at least three years, the IRS has egregiously wronged this nation — including at least one person on a director level. Yet, it still hasn’t apologized or come clean.
But despite all the excuses and diversions offered by the IRS, the American people are still saying what Senator Ron Johnson expressed: “I smell a rat. I smell a number of rats, and that’s what we are going to get to the bottom of.”
And speaking of rats…
In NorCal v. IRS, the only class action filed on behalf of the tea party and conservative groups targeted by the IRS, plaintiffs continue to pursue the government in discovery. At first, the IRS tried to use the same statute it was being sued under — Section 6103, which protects taxpayer information — to keep from producing facts about the targeting scandal. The court rejected this attempt, saying the government was like a “rat chasing its tail.”
Now, the IRS has produced a large number of documents, and over the next month, the plaintiffs will take testimony under oath from individual agents. These range from Cincinnati “line level” workers to Washington, D.C., managers like Holly Paz. The plaintiffs expect this discovery to confirm that hundreds of groups were targeted, isolated, and delayed based upon their ideology, not based on any legitimate tax administration purpose.
In other words, we are continuing to pursue justice for the groups that were wronged. We will not forget or be distracted, until the wrongdoers are held accountable and the country can be assured the IRS will never be turned into a political weapon again.