IRS scandal: par for the course

Logo of the Internal Revenue Service, the federal income tax authority
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The latest hearings on the IRS scandal in the House of Representatives prove one thing above all. It is not that the Obama administration is the least transparent presidential administration in the history of the United States. We knew that already. Instead, it is that the American people lost their Republic the day three-fourths of the several States ratified the 16th Amendment, and Congress ordained and established the Internal Revenue Service.

IRS scandal: what the Commissioner knew

By now everyone has heard the latest. Everyone knows that John Koskinen, the current Commissioner of Internal Revenue, made a fool and a jackass of himself. He did it first before the House Committee on Ways and Means and second before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Both times, he refused to apologize, showed no remorse, and showed no insight that he or his agency did anything wrong. He struck half his questioners as arrogant and condescending. Several congressmen took him to task, and rightly so, for his handling of the IRS scandal since he became Commissioner. They especially criticized him for his mishandling of two years of email communications between Lois Lerner, supervisor of tax-exempt organizations, and several other officials inside and outside the IRS. That mishandling included canceling the contract with an outside security firm that was backing up emails at the IRS.

This goes to the reason the IRS scandal made the news: the IRS, under Ms. Lerner’s direction, deliberately delayed, and in some cases wrongfully denied, the applications of several conservative political organizations to be tax-exempt. This blocked them from taking part in the Election of 2012 and is one reason Obama won re-election. She did this because her boss, de facto President Barack Obama, did not appreciate the decision in Citizens United versus Federal Election Commission. That decision says you don’t have to be a labor union, or a news organ, to make political statements. Obama thus sought to imitate President Andrew Jackson. He famously said,

Mr. Justice Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it.

Earlier this year, Commissioner Koskinen promised to send copies of email correspondence involving Lois Lerner. Now he says these emails are lost forever. That in itself is impossible to believe. Fault-tolerant servers should have preserved these emails. If they did not, the IRS is in violation of the Federal Records Act. The National Archivist in fact specifically said the IRS did break the law in this area.

The real IRS scandal

The IRS scandal gained a new face - in Congress.

New York office of the IRS. Photo: Matthew G. Bisanz, CC BY-SA 3.0 Unported License.

But the problem with the IRS scandal isn’t that the IRS deliberately destroyed the evidence. It isn’t even that Koskinen, to the certain knowledge of many reporters, has given vast sums to Democratic Party political campaigns. It is that half the members of Congress who questioned him also found nothing wrong with his actions or his attitudes.

As an aside, many reporters have made too much of Commissioner Koskinen’s political campaign contributions. The real problem is that when anyone goes to work for a tax collection agency for any length of time, he comes to absorb the attitudes of regular members of that agency. It is as if something in the air of the tax office transforms even the most good-hearted man into a bully. Because that is exactly what a taxman is: a bully. This attitude is as old as taxation itself. It was the basic attitude of the tax farmers of Jesus Christ’s day. Any person who collects taxes, comes to see every other member of society as a tax cheat. The taxman even uses that attitude to justify cheating the taxpayer to serve the State.

Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I will give to the poor, and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will give back four times as much.” [Luke 19:8]

Add this to it: the IRS can function as judge, prosecutor, and executioner. It almost functions as its own legislature. One agency combines all three functions of governments. This is exactly what the framers of the Constitution sought to avoid.

So the real IRS scandal is that the IRS even exists. The IRS was bound to behave exactly as it has, since Congress formed it. The proper way to deal with the IRS scandal is not to discharge or even arrest and imprison particular officers of the IRS who did wrong things. The solution is to abolish the IRS completely, and rewrite the tax code in a way to make the IRS unnecessary.

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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.

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