The taxman is the Rodney “No Respect” Dangerfield of government employees. The latest hubbub over alleged Internal Revenue Service “targeting” of government-critical conservative groups is the latest ‘Tempest in a Teapot’ only Congressional Republicans could wail about. You’d think the President dug up ole Geo. Washington’s sacred bones and used them for White House Halloween decorations.
Yes, the I.R.S. is a sizable organization, but the taxman to taxpayer staffing ratio is a tiny fraction of one percent of the population. The alleged ‘rogues’ in the current “scandal”: 2. Out of 100,000 agency employees, that’s 0.002% bad apples. I’d venture to say there were a higher proportion of perverts closeted among the clergy. Diversity among the I.R.S. staff really looks like America.
Working for the I.R.S. requires that you release your tax returns to get hired, and you can easily be fired for cheating or not filing on time. No digging up dirt on celebrities or seeing if Angelina Jolie reported her old bra size before her recent brave decision. There are a number of “deadly sins” to avoid if you want to stay a taxman, which private sector workers never face. Oh, and you won’t get rich. As far as politicizing, there are two, count ‘em, two political appointees in the entire agency.
Oh, Republicans were fine when the Nixon Administration spied on Americans opposed to the unpopular morass in Vietnam forty years ago. Sixty years ago, they cheered as the infamous lush Sen, Joe McCarthy (R-Wisc.) grilled alleged ‘Communists’ in the State Department and in Hollywood. The Dubya Bush Administration had no qualms about siccing the taxman on folks opposed to the multi-trillion dollar Afghanistan and Iraq misadventures, or the NAACP. For those of us who didn’t last long in the matrimony game, “That’s different” doesn’t apply to tea bags purchased by the billionaire Loonytarian Koch Bros.
Any time you want a break from what the rest of us must pay on something, be it Food Stamps or a tax deduction, be prepared to document it to the office which is charged with the public responsibility of fairly administering the statute. If you are applying for Food Stamps, be prepared to prove a level of poverty no sane person would voluntarily subsist on. Ditto for Low Income Energy Assistance to help with part of the expense of heating your residence in the dead of winter. P.S.: It isn’t very much money, and that assistance comes either in the form of a food stamp debit card that the supermarket won’t let you use to pay for that case of cheap, NASCAR Milwaukee’s Best beer, and the energy assistance is a few hundred bucks annually, at most, paid directly to the electric company. The utility isn’t going to trade you that assistance for some illicit OxyContin. NOT the “Life of Riley.”
Don’t show up at the public assistance office in furs or one of those $1200 Burberry’s of London or Aquascutum raincoats this writer has a particular fondness for.. You’ll be asked to redocument periodically, in any event, so stay in character. The interviewer isn’t going to buy that your Cadillac Escalade del Lardo bling SUV was “manna from heaven.” Common sense.
Want to claim a tax deduction or credit for your kids? Be prepared, under penalty of perjury, to report their Social Security Numbers for the I.R.S. to cross check. Claim an itemized deduction for mortgage interest? The interest you claim had better match what your lender reports to the I.R.S., unless you want to get one of those charming letters from the taxman demanding substantiation with the bedside manner of Dr. Joe “Angel of Death” Mengele. formerly of Auschwitz, Argentina, and Asuncion, Paraguay.
Want to deduct a charitable donation? Better be ready to prove it, especially if your deduction exceeds averages from other Americans. You can bet Mitt the Megatither R-money has an army of accountants and tax lawyers for the audit on that Super-elect Temple Elite Golden Bidet contribution. The I.R.S. has long been wise to scams such as the “Black Tax Credit”, so be ready to tote your shoeboxes of receipts to the tax office for the audit if your filing is unduly “creative.” “In God We Trust. Others We Verify.”
Tax exempt organizations have special requirements. Nothing new. If you look and sound like a political organization for candidates of Party X, expect to prove you are a bona fide non-profit 501(c)(4) organization for public good. It’s a tax mulligan the rest of us don’t get. I’m glad some taxmen took notice of an exploding number of political 501(c)(4) applications. Diligence.
The latest Right-wing wailing and gnashing of teeth about the mean ole I.R.S. doing their statutory duty seems as if former Alaska Half-Gov. and inept cable TV caribou hunter Sarah Palin (R-Seward’s Folly) is fearing a reprise of the Monty Python lads’ “No One Expects the Spanish Inquisition” sketch.
According to the IRS Inspector General, 73 of 298 groups examined with additional detail had ‘tea party’ in their name. 24%. If a group had ‘patriot’ in them, it was less five percent. A small fraction of the 501(c)(4) entities. Most of us, other than Alex Jones, stopped worrying about the bogeyman in our bedroom closets by age 5 or so. Shades of the scaremongering ‘Caliphate’ spectre Glenny Beck finally got the Roger Ailes “Heave Ho” boot from Fox News for. If it’s an I.R.S. inquisition, it’s an inept one.
Remember when the term “astroturfing” entered the political vernacular? That was when investigative journalists found that the Tea Party “grassroots” movement was fueled by the likes of the not-at-all-proletarian billionaire Koch Bros.’ largesse. Worth a second look, methinks.
Okay. Part of the scintillating life of an accountant is the evaluation of internal controls. Hold on to your hats, folks, but it might be helpful to predict systemic weaknesses before they lose money or destroy your business.
If the mean old Kenyan Commie Muslim Ninjas at the White House wanted to oppress the spelling-challenged simpletons among us, one would think they would keep it on a “close hold” basis. Inside the Beltway. Not in Cincinnati. While Cincinnati holds a special place in the Parrothead hearts of longtime Jimmy Buffett fans, it’s in a rather vanilla southwestern corner of the all-too-flat state of Ohio. Close enough to Kentucky to hear the banjo music wafting across the river. Hardly the epicenter of global repressive conspiracy.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Me.) is usually far less of a frothing-at-the-mouth paranoid than when she called the IRS investigation “chilling.” I would expect such claptrap out of a certified loon such as Rep. Louie “Terror Babies” Gohmert (R-Tex.), or Rep. Michele “Fact-Free Diet” Bachmann (R-Minn.). You can usually find them on the “shoot from the lip first and ask questions later” gun range.
The Internal Revenue Service held a prominent place atop the General Accountability Office’s High Risk List for NOT collecting taxes due for eighteen long years. We cannot criticize the agency for not doing its’ job, yet flog them for taking enforcement duties seriously. Americans want to see the taxman enforce tax laws fairly. I frankly doubt the sanity of the “end the IRS” ilk. It’s a big country. Somebody has to pay the bills, according to their means. Save the magic multiplying “loaves & fishes” fairy tale for Sunday School.
Americans want fairness and their privacy respected. We expect government to do its job. If an internal control mechanism to prevent potential abuse needs strengthening, do so. The sky is not falling in Greater TeaBaggia.
Oh, and for Rep. Bachmann, the Shakespearean line from Hamlet, Prince of Denmark Act III. Scene II. is supposed to read, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”