The IRS “Scandal”.

Left this comment on someone’s site:

“Tea Party activists were treated unfairly by a whopping two of the IRS’ one hundred and six thousand employees.  And lets remember they were merely held to the standard of the law.  It’s not like IRS had them assassinated or crashed their bank accounts on a whim or something.  Be angry about it but it’s not the apocalypse, nor is it the scandal of the century.  And nor, should I ad, is there the slightest indication that obama had anything to do with it.”

Apparently the IRS uses computers to manage it’s data just like google and youtube and some shmuck added tea-party-sounding keywords to the algorithm that figures out which organizations to audit next.  Which of course means america is dead, democracy is a sham and obama is coming to eat your children.


About agnophilo

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24 Responses to The IRS “Scandal”.

  1. TheSutraDude says:

    Was it wrong for a couple of people in the IRS to use keywords to target a specific group? Yes but there are things to consider. Due to cuts to the IRS they are short handed and likely overwhelmed. They are required by law to look into groups requesting 5014C tax exemption. That someone came up with the idea to use keywords like “tea party” for the purpose of narrowing a search for political organizations requesting tax payer subsidized social welfare exemption from paying taxes is not a far reach. I don’t think there is anyone who thinks “social welfare” when they hear the words “tea party”. The tea party is very vocal in its opposition to social welfare programs. 501C4 tax exemption is intended for social welfare organizations, not for political organizations. Here’s the zinger. In the end not one tea party organization was denied 501C4 tax exempt status while one liberal organization was denied that status. Further, Karl Rove’s organization “Crossroads GPS” is given tax exemption status as a social welfare program in spite of the fact Crossroads GPS spent $70 million in political tax ads during the 2012 election cycle. We should also be asking how the hell that happened. In effect taxpayers subsidized Rove’s organization which in my opinion should have been paying its fair share of taxes but didn’t. There are other tea party organizations that sent out mailers and made phone calls with the purpose of speaking out against healthcare reform. They were told by their lawyers use of the word “Obamacare” could be cause for revocation of their tax exempt status but let’s face it, they were acting politically and not acting as social welfare organizations. So what a few people in the IRS did was wrong the right wing should stop their belly aching since in the end they were all given taxpayer subsidized exemptions while a liberal group was the one denied. 

  2. PPhilip says:

    Wisconsin’s governor was up for recall and the Tea party came to his rescue. The teaparty knows how to push buttons and not do much electioneering.@TheSutraDude – I have seen the opposite claimed by “pro” conservatives and they state that Liberal agencies got a pass and only conservative organizations did not.The conservatives here at xanga are itching for a fight, remember that they try hard to dig up dirt but hey smart people refuse to sink to their level.

  3. Sounds like something Nixon would do.

  4. trunthepaige says:

    Yeah thats it only two people no news here. I doi not really need to push it this story is self moving. The press a group that up to now has mostly loved our president is shocked and pissed off. They are moving this story now. Sorry it was more than two people you really need to keep up. I am rather enjoying all this

  5. trunthepaige says:

    @TheTheologiansCafe – I think the apologists for Nixon kept saying. “It was just a second rate burglary” “They all do it, it’s just that Nixon got caught”

  6. Woodward and Bernstein have never liked the idea of a Black man in the White House, so of course, they are in the forefront of all these tempests.  There were maybe 40-50 IRS agents involved in the whole process, and yes, a liberal group in Phoenix was also “targeted”.  Unlike the anti-tax groups, the libs see it as part of the IRS’s normal monitoring of non-profits.None of these “scandals” is even remotely comparable to Watergate.  More like the “Clinton Body Bags”, redux.

  7. Conservative racists like to pretend that the president is personally responsible for the inner workings of all government organizations and their employees when any government organization is accused of doing wrong, and when the president is a black democrat.  If the president were a white Republican they would acknowledge the impossibility of that notion.

  8. UTRow1 says:

    @RighteousBruin – Yeah, I love the idiots throwing the Watergate comparison around. First, there is absolutely 0 evidence that Obama knew about, let alone commanded, this discrimination. Nixon, on the other hand, was instrumental in the planning and cover-up stages of Watergate (he taped himself literally orchestrating the cover-up and threatening anyone who stood in his way). Furthermore, even if all the most hyperbolic, unsubstantiated claims lobbed around by conservatives were true, this scandal still wouldn’t be as bad as Watergate. Here, some fringe groups with maybe 50,000 members combined were targeted for nominal economic and political burdens. In Watergate, Nixon literally stole from and wiretapped the DNC’s headquarters with the express intent of throwing the election. Moreover, Nixon planned to pay his lackeys with funds from his re-election trough, which was largely tax payer money. Obviously one event was a direct attack on the most consequential aspect of America’s democratic process with the repercussions being much larger (imagine how different history would have been if Nixon won a second term). The other was, at best, an indirect attack on relatively minor ideological groups (including several liberal groups). That being said, I find it funny that conservatives weren’t concerned with this behavior back when Bush was in office, and the IRS was doing the same thing to liberal groups. I’m not saying two wrongs make a right, I’m just saying that people need to be consistent in their outrage. In the end, it will be interesting to see how the Right deals with this. I already hear far-right wing nut jobs alleging that the IRS scandal proves that Obama would have been defeated in 2012 had the playing field been equal. Of course, this is flat-out crazy. The Romney-Ryan ticket was always a 10-to-1 underdog. But if the disconnect between conservative Republicans and reality is strengthened by this scandal, and they fail to recognize that their party is simply becoming more and more irrelevant and unappealing to the vast majority of Americans, Democrats will just continue trouncing them at the polls.  

  9. Chuck Colson, one of Richard Nixon’s henchmen, got sent up the river for having 2, yes two, FBI files on political enemies.The Clintons got caught with 500 and nothing happened.So obviously numbers are used by Democrats when they work to destroy the opposition and they are ignored when they prove that Democrats are habitual crooks who think nothing of destroying civil rights.The IRS used the information it gained from its interogations to go after Tea Party donors.That is a violation of the 1st Amendment even if it happens only once.Violating the 1st Amendment is a high crime.Someone needs to go to jail for a long, long time.Unfortunately, the woman in charge of all the harassment rights violations is now in charge of the IRS division that will manage ObamaCare.And here you all are playing numbers games and making silly excuses for clearly criminal behavior.@UTRow1 – @ItsWhatEyeKnow – @RighteousBruin – @PPhilip – @TheSutraDude – 

  10. @TheTheologiansCafe – Nixon was a complete amateur compared to the Obama Regime.

  11. Randy7777 says:

    You’re in denial.  At least Obama is not in total denial, he fired the head of the IRS.  I would think you would be speaking a different tune if it was your group they targeted instead of your enemy.

  12. SKANLYN says:

    Isn’t the IRS supposed to audit people they suspect may not be paying all of the taxes they owe? Who would be more liklely to cheat on their taxes than members of an anti-tax terror group?

  13. Maverick83 says:

    Dumb, angry people are like rabid dogs whose only nourishment comes in the form of the failures of their intellectually superior adversaries. And because those are so hard to come by, much like a starving, rabid dog, if they sense something that kind of looks like “food”, they’re not going to bother making sure it is, they’re going to pounce, mouths foaming.

  14. Actually, the two employees’ actions are condoned by top IRS leadership for years.  Moreover, by using a few keywords, it effectively biases the system to selectively flag applications based on political agenda.  So that while it is true that the IRS uses computer to manage its organizational processes “just like google and yahoo”, the input still matters.  Moreover, direct knowledge of the biased input as well as condoning their sustained use is the core matter of this case, rather than just some “rogue employees”.Considering the sweeping power of the IRS in wage garnishment, putting liens on personal properties, as well as the impending expansion of their power to leverage punitive tax as a policy tool under the ACA, the scope as well as the impact of this scandal has broad ramifications of our governance.  A mind is a terrible thing to waste.  Use it and connect information logically to formulate conclusions and projections for the future.   

  15. UTRow1 says:

    @SKANLYN – I don’t agree that Tea Party members are terrorists, but you raise an important point. Is it really discriminatory (in an illegal way) to subject Tea Party groups to more audits and/or scrutiny relating to their taxes? Many Tea Party proponents I have met equate taxation with slavery and openly call for people to rebel against the federal government by not paying taxes. They often do this in public forums. For example.Stephanie Mencimer wrote an interesting piece on this subject in Mother Jones very recently, and I suggest everyone interested in the subject read it. Anyways, the police can pull people over and conduct searches when they have probable cause. Why can’t the IRS audit people who openly discussed their unwillingness to pay taxes in public forums, hold federal tax protests, and engage in otherwise suspicious behavior? Regardless, the truth is that the IRS DOES have the power to discriminate. The federal government can discriminate against groups provided if they meet a legally defined standard for discrimination. The questions are (and I don’t know the answer to them): (1) What evidence did the IRS have for applying a different standard to those conservative groups; (2) did the evidence warrant that standard; (3) is that standard legally permissible; and (4) did the IRS apply that standard legally? 

  16. @UTRow1 – Actually, there is a fine line between probable cause and profiling.  However, the difference between your argument of probable cause and profiling is that probable cause is specific to individuals and individual entities.  For example, if a new group started by Lauryn Hill (who is obviously not a member of the Tea Party but a noted tax evader) applies for non-profit status, then the IRS has probable cause to give extra scrutiny to that organization.  However, simply because both Lauryn Hill and Wesley Snipes (again, neither belongs to the Tea Party) are noted tax evaders, does that equip the IRS to scrutinize the tax returns of all black entertainers?I think the conclusion is rather obvious.To take the conversation back to specifically pertaining to Tea Party, let’s say Koch Brothers delivered a rousing speech at a Tea Party convention to urge everyone to dodge taxes.  Then they attempt to register a non-profit.  Then there’s your probable cause: Koch Brothers specifically urged people to dodge taxes.  However, simply because Koch Brothers urged everyone at the convention to dodge taxes doesn’t mean all convention attendees give the IRS probable cause to scrutinize their tax returns as well as their attempts at registering non-profits, because there is nothing to give IRS any indication that any specific attendees gave any credibility to what the Koch Brothers said.  Therefore subjecting all non-profit registrations from Tea Party and conservatives in one broad stroke is considered profiling rather than following up on probable cause.And lastly, no, the government absolutely does not have the power to discriminate as it pleases.  Non-profits are non-profits, conservative, liberal, or otherwise.  Political affiliation is not a salient factor in qualifications for a non-profit organization.

  17. Maverick83 says:

    @RealisticIdealist – Being a black entertainer doesn’t have any correlation to tax evasion. Being a member of a group whose defining characteristic is explicitly decrying taxes, and applying for tax exempt status under affiliation with such a group does. Try this hypothetical: If a person is a known, outspoken Al-Qaeda sympathizer, would it be considered unjust discrimination to subject them to higher scrutiny, before allowing them to board a plane?

  18. UTRow1 says:

    @RealisticIdealist – I only brought up probable cause because it’s an example of the government legally being able to search or “audit” a person or group of people in a discriminating manner based on available information (e.g., if an officer has probable cause that there are drugs in a car, but isn’t sure who possesses the drugs, he can search all the passengers in the car). Probable cause is really only relevant to the actions of police officers or agents of the law and their investigations into potential or actual criminal violations. It’s not really relevant to this particular subject. Apart from that, your examples aren’t entirely convincing because it’s the official organizational platform of many tea party groups to be anti-tax and to flaunt tax law. It’s not just individual members stating personal beliefs. These organizations propagate fliers, internet ads, commercials, etc. with stating what their organizational beliefs are. History is replete with the government treating classes of people differently based on their characteristics. It’s not always legal, of course, but it’s not always illegal. Lastly, I never said government has the ability to discriminate as it pleases. I said that it can discriminate [under certain circumstances against certain individuals or groups]. This is absolutely true. Now, whether that discrimination is legal or constitutional depends on the discriminatory action, the basis for the government taking that action, the group being discriminated against, and the standard being applied (from statutory law, case law, etc.). For example, if the rational basis standard is applied under Equal Protection analysis, the government’s discrimination will almost always be upheld as constitutional. SCOTUS has only found the government to lack such a basis on a few occasions. If strict scrutiny is the standard applied, the government’s discrimination is almost always considered unconstitutional. I kinda know a lot about this subject, by the way, as I won (as the Plaintiff) a pretty widely publicized discrimination suit against a local government organization that didn’t give me access to their services as a result of my gender. 

  19. UTRow1 says:

    @Maverick83 – [Try this hypothetical: If a person is a known, outspoken Al-Qaeda sympathizer, would it be considered unjust discrimination to subject them to higher scrutiny, before allowing them to board a plane?]For some of the tea party groups being discriminated against that actively promoted/threatened tax evasion and other illegal/quasi-illegal activities, a better hypothetical would be: If a person is a known, outspoken Al-Qaeda sympathizer who released fliers, internet blogs, and other publications advocating other terrorists bomb planes [or, alternatively, indicated his intent to bomb a plane], would it be considered unjust discrimination to subject them to higher scrutiny, before allowing them to board a plane?That’s more accurate in this instance, because many of these groups advocated/threatened to/regularly did violate tax laws.The real problem will be if the IRS discriminated against Tea Party groups who had never advocated, threatened to engage in, or committed that type of illegal behavior. Then the IRS would have been discriminating against a group without an adequate justification (in my mind).  

  20. @UTRow1 – Actually, not quite accurate.  You are still relying on the generalization that “all Tea Party members are tax evaders”.You claim, “in this instance, many of these groups advocated/threatened to/regularly did violate tax laws.”  Then only these groups, rather than all Tea Party Groups, should be systematically flagged.  Yet, the use of “Tea Party” as a general mechanism to flag applications necessarily flags those groups that have never made such threats. Lastly, the fallacy in your logic is that you claim many of these groups “did violate tax laws”.  If true, then these groups would have already been under prosecution rather than applying for tax exempt status.  And in the rare cases when groups simultaneously owe back taxes and are applying for tax exemption, then the approval of their application will clear them of any wrong-doing.As you said, the real problem should be if IRS discriminated against Tea Party groups.  If you look at how the scandal occurred, the use of keywords effectively shifts the focus on to Tea Party rather than known tax evaders.  Therefore, the IRS did, in fact, discriminate against Tea Party groups because it’s not that all Tea Party groups evaded taxes, yet that is what IRS was doing – flagging all Tea Party groups.

  21. @Maverick83 – That was simply an analogy of how the IRS made its decisions to flag conservative groups.  You are absolutely right, it’s a stupid logic, yet one used to discriminate against all conservative groups.

  22. @UTRow1 – Lastly, you seem to have completely missed the point of my previous post.Let’s say, “Teas-R-Us” was found to be a known tax evader.  Then only “Teas-R-Us” should be flagged in the IRS system.  By flagging all applications that contains the word “Tea”, the IRS would flag another group named “Teas-of-US”, while having a highly similar name, is in fact not the same entity.  Yet under the IRS flagging system, Teas-of-US is subjected to the same scrutinity as Teas-R-Us.  In the mean time, Teas-R-Us might have changed its name to Liberals-R-Us and breezed through the process.That is not to mention, even among all Tea Party groups and liberal groups that were flagged, the Tea Party groups were always required to submit much more information than were required of the liberal groups.  So not only did the IRS discriminate in the flagging process, but it also discriminated after flagging.As for your argument of how the official organization platform of many Tea Party groups are anti-tax, you are mixing up many different issues.  First, anti-tax does not mean advocacy for evading taxes.  Evading taxes means active refusal to pay taxes (obviously), but anti-tax can be leveraging the legislative process to lower taxes, which is in fact what most Tea Party platforms are for.  Somewhere along the way, you got fed with too much MSNBC Kool-Aid into believing that all conservatives are somehow embracing tax evasion, which is simply laughable.Anecdotal stories aside, fact remains:1). Anti-tax is not the same as tax evasion.2). Flagging applications with keywords such as “Tea” necessarily discriminates.3). The IRS, whether or not intentionally, provided preferential treatment to liberal progressives.I will concede one point to you, it may or may not be legal.  The act of discrimination is not necessarily illegal, until it is defined as illegal.  That is why there must be a lawsuit (and one that the Obama Administration is desperately trying to avoid).  If a lawsuit were filed, and the IRS were found guilty of illegally discriminating against conservatives, it will provide a massive amount of ammunition to the GOP to repeal the ACA, because of the IRS’s vital role in the ACA’s enforcement.  If the IRS were found to be illegally discriminating against one segment of the American population, then how can it be trusted with administering punitive taxes on those who refuse to purchase health insurance?

  23. UTRow1 says:

    @RealisticIdealist – [You are still relying on the generalization that “all Tea Party members are tax evaders”.](1) That’s a false quote you are attributing to me. A cursory “control F” for those terms establishes that’s no accurate. What I did say is that “Many Tea Party proponents I have met equate taxation with slavery and openly call for people to rebel against the federal government by not paying taxes.”(2) The government does not need to establish that “all” members of an organization are X in order to “discriminate” against them. [Then only these groups, rather than all Tea Party Groups, should be systematically flagged.]That’s the extent of my claim. That being said, I have not seen any evidence that “all” tea party groups were discriminated against. Do you have evidence to support this claim?Even then, the discrimination MAY still be lawful/constitutional for reasons I have already discussed (and will discuss further below). You may not agree with it, but the law is the law. [That is not to mention, even among all Tea Party groups and liberal groups that were flagged, the Tea Party groups were always required to submit much more information than were required of the liberal groups.]Provide a source to support that claim, please. I am just curious. [Lastly, the fallacy in your logic is that you claim many of these groups “did violate tax laws”. ]I never claimed this. I claimed that many Tea Party groups frequently engage in a pattern of multiple behaviors (including actual tax fraud) that is suspicious and may warrant additional scrutiny that other groups don’t warrant (e.g., federal tax protests, publishing “how to” books that include fraudulent behavior, etc.). Further, that’s not the burden of proof the government needs to meet in order to justify its discrimination, at least under Equal Protection/Due Process case law. All the government needs to prove for the discrimination to be constitutional under the 14th Amendment, if rational basis standard applies, is that it had a rational basis to discriminate in order to pursue a legitimate government goal. Proving that tea party groups disproportionately threaten to/actually violate tax law would be more than sufficient under this easily met standard. Period. It wouldn’t matter whether the discrimination targeted a small portion of tea party groups or all tea party groups. Of course, if rational basis review didn’t apply, but rather, intermediate/strict scrutiny standards, the outcome may very well be different.[As you said, the real problem should be if IRS discriminated against Tea Party groups.]That’s not what I said. I have never argued discrimination didn’t occur. It’s clear that discrimination occurred. My arguments have related to whether or not that discrimination is LAWFUL. The real question is whether that discrimination is LAWFUL or CONSTITUTIONAL discrimination. Again, the government CAN discriminate against entire groups of people in certain circumstances. This. Is. Absolutely. Beyond. Dispute. For example, public military academies can refuse to admit women; police can search an entire class of people that match a wanted suspect’s description; you can talk about politics in a public park, but you can’t burn a cross on an African American family’s lawn; homosexual couples can be denied marriage benefits that heterosexuals have access to; repeat corporate polluters can be forced to comply with stricter permitting standards; etc.  These are all examples of lawful governmental discrimination. [Hypothetical]Your hypotheticals don’t interest me, and your hypothetical does nothing to undermine what I have said. What interests me is the legal question of whether the discrimination was lawful under the Constitution, relevant statutes, etc. 

  24. dingus6 says:

    Well said!In one way, auditing organizations with Tea Party type names protects TP believers from scams.

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