Advocacy / Politics

Hearing With IRS Commissioner John Koskinen

Lack of transparency, rampant political scandals, and partisan bickering has done little to foster a relationship of trust between the American people and their government.  This White House has had its fair share of encounters with corruption – though often declaring itself conveniently unaware of or responsible for most of these troubling occurrences.  For example, when the public learned in March 2010 that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which handles tax collection and enforcement, had shamelessly and inappropriately targeted conservative Tea Party groups that applied for tax-exempt status, the American people were outraged.  Prompting an ongoing congressional probe into the IRS’ activities, the fallout from the IRS scandal has done little to alleviate the concerns and fears of honest Americans or to regain the trust of the people in its ability to execute its duties fairly.

Congress continues to use hearings as one official way to get to the bottom of these sorts of scandals.  On February 5, 2014, in a House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee hearing, entitled, “Hearing with IRS Commissioner Koskinen,” Commissioner of the IRS, John Koskinen testified regarding IRS management and policies.  Koskinen was asked to respond to allegations regarding the IRS’ targeting of right-leaning groups, its inability to tackle the backlog of applications for tax-exempt status, and new rules which would essentially codify continued targeting.  Additionally, many in Congress are now skeptical that the IRS will be able to execute its ObamaCare income and data certification responsibilities properly.

Chairman Charles Boustany Jr., M.D., (R-LA) wasted no time in getting down to business.  Rep. Boustany opened the hearing with a pointed statement:

The Committee investigated rumors that the IRS was seeking to reinterpret the gift tax and apply it to donors to right-leaning social welfare organizations.  These rumors proved true… The Committee then began investigating allegations that the IRS was delaying and harassing right-leaning applicants for tax-exempt status.  These rumors were also proven true.  These insults to the public trust have occurred during a time when the IRS is taking on vast new responsibilities under the president’s health care law and while the agency continues to struggle with its core mission of revenue collection and taxpayer service.

Responding to the Chairman’s harsh assessment of the IRS, the Commissioner issued an apology on behalf of the IRS – the first apology of any sort since the scandal broke.  However, the nature of his apology may be strictly political, as the IRS is trying to make targeting of this kind legal.  The IRS recently published rules to tighten the definition of “political activity” so that many Tea Party and conservative groups could be denied their tax-exempt statuses.

Congressmen Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) see through this farce, however.  In a letter to Commissioner Koskinen, the Republican duo contends that the rule changes will “stifle the speech of social welfare organizations… The proposed regulation is intended to clarify the tax-exemption determinations process and resolve problems identified in a Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) audit report.  It does not.”  Along the same lines, Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI), exposed the secrecy and subterfuge of the IRS’ rule changes.  According to Rep. Camp, IRS officials were handling the rule changes in what officials are calling “off plan” or “hidden from the public” deals.  Rep. Camp acknowledges that “if the Treasury and the IRS had fabricated a rationale for the rule change, it would tend to raise questions as to the integrity of the rule change.”  These rules are not being formed to assist the IRS in better handling American tax dollars but to shortcut policy and move agendas that are not held by the country at large.

Of course, the IRS’ role in implementing ObamaCare isn’t making their case before the American people any easier.  A TIGTA report from December 30, 2013, found that the IRS does have a customer service strategy in place as of now, but with the continuous changes to the law, the IRS could face challenges.  TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George stated, “Depending on the nature of any changes made to the ACA tax provisions, the IRS’ strategy and plans to provide customer service, outreach, education, and employee training could be affected.  Changes to the provisions could also affect the IRS’ plans to update its tax forms, instructions, and publications.”  Cue another ObamaCare-triggered disaster.

At the close of the hearing, Chairman Boustany emphasized the significance of the IRS’ past targeting actions and challenged the Commissioner to attack the remaining outstanding issues with the hope of a establishing a more cooperative relationship with the American people and Congress moving forward.  A number of critical issues regarding the IRS have yet to be resolved, but congressional hearings do foster necessary dialogue between government bureaucracies and encourage accountability for actions taken and choices made.  The IRS’ ultimate goal should be to regain the trust of the American people.

AMAC champions this initiative and wants all groups – regardless of political ideology – to be treated equally in accordance with the law.  As hearings surrounding the IRS scandal take place on Capitol Hill, AMAC will continue to observe and monitor where this particular debate leads.  It is AMAC’s top priority that our members stay informed, engaged, and aware of how our operating government authorities execute their duties, and we will fight to hold these unelected agencies accountable for their inappropriate actions.

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susan beasley
8 years ago

last year my husband went thru cancer,we thought we could deduct this year but of course they up the percentage to ten percent of our income.we only make 60,000 a year.we do not qualify for any benefits to help us out. About 6,000 $ we give to the IRS every year. and get nothing back at the end of the year .and then i go to work at my job and some young gals who make the same as I do .american and foreign are bragging how they are getting ((((8,000$ )))dollar’s this year((really?)) and are spending it on a lot crap.because they had kids.and they are unmarried and if they are married there husbands don’t want to work.And some say if they have more kids they will get a bigger check at the end of the year.Why is it that if you get married , pay your bills, paying your taxes.We do all the right things and for ‘nothing”.nothing to save because all your money goes for your bills and taxes, and all you have left is nothing . Then if you don’t get married, you get free money, free food, free money for your rent, free hospital bills and a big fat check at the end of the year and expect it every year until your kids grow up. I’m still paying for the cancer bills and paying all my own bills and nothing left, while people who don’t contribute to taxes get everything plus the income taxes I paid.I would like to see the end of the earned income credit, because they did not earn it.

Keith J. Hollingsworth
8 years ago

The time for discussion is over!!!!! It is time for formal outside counsel, not assigned by the administration or Mr. Holder, to completely investigate, subpoena and indict those guilty. We are drifting on a sea of mediocrity. This administration and many Democrats, Republicans, liberal and conservatives have absolutely no respect for the people, state rights, The Declaration of Independence or the Constitution of the United States. Amendment number 28 is required to ensure state rights. They work for us and not the reverse!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Respectfully Submitted, Keith J. Hollingsworth

8 years ago

What is needed is the formation of a Congressional select committee, combining all the investigative efforts of all the various Congressional committees coupled with full subpoena powers, to fully investigate not only these IRS activities, but all the other administration scandals from Obamacare to Benghazi. For some reason, the House GOP leadership doesn’t want to go this route. These individual committee hearings may provide more face time on TV for individual members of Congress, but they lack the necessary power to compel members of this administration to cooperate in a timely and thorough fashion.

What we’re getting from the administration is a delay strategy designed to draw out the entire process so long, from release of redacted documents to granting approval for various personnel to appear before such hearings, that the general public either looses interest or believes the lies of the White House, that since Congressional hearings have gone on so long, there must not be anything there to find. That’s just my opinion.

That the administration now seeks to codify the very policies that they used to target political opponents of this administration should send chills down everyone’s spine. This is the type of third-world policy you would expect to find in banana republic dictatorships. Certainly it shouldn’t be the type of policy that is deemed acceptable in the United States. Then again, we are being “transformed” into the Progressive vision of what America should be, so maybe the general public no longer understands what is being put in place “for their own good”.

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