Because of a lack of accountability dating back decades, the Internal Revenue Service has become a corrupt and dysfunctional shell of its former self. It has lost the ability and the moral authority to enforce the Internal Revenue Code.
I know this because, unfortunately, I had a front-row seat.
I was an IRS attorney for 30 years until I was forced out in 2017 for being a whistleblower. The theory used by the IRS and its Mr. Fix It, the IRS inspector general (TIGTA), was that I violated taxpayer privacy because my name appeared in a Washington Post article. It was a ludicrous argument, but that did not matter. The IRS deployed overwhelming resources and broke the law to force me out.
Unfortunately, this is now par for the course for the IRS. In the last two years, numerous tax returns have illegally leaked out of the IRS to ProPublica (TIGTA has “investigated” the leak for two years even though it could have solved the case within a week because of a system called UNAX). The IRS flat-out lied about middle-class tax audits not increasing despite an $87 billion funding bonanza. And the IRS backdated a penalty approval in the LakePoint Land Group case and failed to inform the Tax Court.
The LakePoint case is remarkable, not for the egregious conduct by the IRS but for the lack of concern by decision-makers. If a taxpayer backdated a document and failed timely to inform the Tax Court of that fact, that taxpayer would face a criminal referral and probable prison time.
The IRS? It sort of apologized.
This has a dreary consistency to it. Internally and externally, I reported World War II veterans being bullied, a cover-up of the tea party cases, literally billions of dollars improperly being shoveled out to lobbyists, and a female IRS employee being subjected to despicable abuse and retaliation. None of it was investigated.
I gave the IRS inspector general a list of nine witnesses to substantiate IRS misconduct. Six years later, none of those witnesses have been contacted.
Over the last couple of decades, I have contacted hundreds of people in Washington about these matters. Not one of them was concerned about right and wrong. They were concerned only about the narrative and agenda.
To me, however, this stuff is wrong. It’s wrong to abuse women. It’s wrong to bully elderly taxpayers. It’s wrong to deprive people of their civil rights. It’s wrong to allow lobbyists to hijack billions of dollars. It’s wrong.
But people in Washington don’t care. I understand why the Democrats don’t care; they are the party of big government, and the IRS has done them favors. What surprised me was how little Republicans care. I thought they would care due to self-preservation, if nothing else, but I was wrong.
What’s unfortunate is that there are ways to bring about at least some IRS accountability. Still, there is no political constituency or will to do so.
First, the IRS should be banned from paying taxpayers to inform on other taxpayers. Since the IRS brutalizes its own whistleblowers, there is no reason for it to be able to pay Americans to inform on their fellow citizens.
Second, the budget of the IRS Office of Chief Counsel should be drastically cut. Many IRS problems are really chief counsel problems.
Third, rather than try to police lobbyists, reverse field and make it prohibitively risky and time-consuming for IRS employees to provide those lobbyists inside access. It would require some planning, but it could be done.
Finally, strip the inspector general of its law-enforcement privileges. Faced with that, TIGTA might actually investigate IRS corruption.
I’m 63, and I’m tired, but I have persisted in speaking out because I owe it to this country and because I have seen some of the victims of an agency that, in many ways, has become grotesque. None of that matters, though, because the people in Washington don’t care about their government pushing around ordinary Americans. They are too busy making money north of Richmond.