Logo of the Internal Revenue Service (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The IRS has always been feared and disliked. It is the tax collector and as such is the only agency where American citizens are considered guilty until proven innocent. Over the years our tax system has become so complex that it has created an entire industry to annually review changes. Not only changes of law, but also of interpretation. And there is an even larger industry that exists because citizens believe they must pay someone who studies tax law to file their tax returns. They are not capable of doing it themselves.
There is now clear evidence this agency has deliberately influenced the political landscape of US politics by targeting groups based on their political world view. They have done this by singling out groups for review based on certain words in their names. One of those words is "liberty". This so called secondary review demands invasive and inappropriate information, often violating the privacy of the group and the individuals who participate. To add insult to injury, this information is then leaked to opposition groups; government agencies, (there are numerous EPA examples) or political adversaries, who use the information to threaten both individuals and their enterprises. Even more egregious, individuals who are named as being involved with the group have their personal tax returns or their business practices subjected to aggressive review when there is no evidence of wrongdoing. These practices force citizens to engage legal representation to defend themselves. For some groups and individuals, this has gone on for years.
The IRS apparently believes that if enough time passes, if enough egregious demands are made and threats issued, the applications will simply go away. The epitome of the "slow walk".
Those targeted will just wear out, run out of money, lose interest and accept defeat. And no one will be the wiser.
Fortunately that is not what is happening. Groups and individuals are not going away and people have not lost interest. Many lawsuits are working their way through the courts. Meanwhile the "even slower walk" is taking place in Washington. The IRS, along with other government agencies involved, are stonewalling Congress by refusing to provide information. IRS leaders declare their innocence, ironically by taking refuge in the fifth amendment of the Constitution. And all the while they continue to receive their salaries.
Tax collectors for the federal government have abused the trust of the American people. The result?
We have lost faith in the fairness and competence of our government.
This powerful agency has demonstrated time and again it is politically biased and corrupt - worse, it is unable or unwillling to reform itself...and there is no impetus from anywhere for it to change. The slow walk just goes on and on. The targeting still goes on. And for this a large number of IRS management employees received "performance" bonuses.
Where is the outrage? Are we afraid of retribution?
Those in Congress who continue to demand answers are accused of making this a "political" issue; of continuing to pursue the investigation only because they want to make others "look bad". The ranking member on the House Ways and Means Committee says regularly there's simply no need for investigation, the story's over, the mystery solved. Really? One wonders if the targeted groups and individuals agree?
Does constantly delaying answering questions or continually repeating lies make us accept them as truth? Are we so frustrated and cynical about government incompetence we have decided there is no way to make it better?
Edmund Burke said it best.
"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) do nothing".