The GOP and the IRS
As usual, the Congress is all over a scandal after the fact. The hearings on the IRS fiasco are good theatre and admittedly necessary; but where were the Republicans, not only over the past three years that the IRS was targeting conservative groups, but over the past three decades as the more and more power was granted to this same agency -- an agency with the potential to be transformed into a de facto secret police. The Republicans were, by consistently agreeing to more complexities in the tax code and the need for stringent tax enforcement due to ever expanding government expenditures, complicit in the creation of a bureaucracy now out of control.
While tax reform is always a good item for inclusion in the Party's platform and sounds great on the campaign trail, it has never been seriously attempted as the nearly 74,000 pages of the tax code is one of the foundational elements of power in Washington D.C. Within that immense waste of paper there is essentially something for everyone who can influence those in Congress, either Republican or Democrat, to insert a favorable provision for their clients. Those in Congress receive in return either campaign contributions or other favorable emoluments to guarantee re-election or a more pleasant standard of living.
It is understandable that the Democrats, as the party of tax and spend as well as an all-powerful central government, would view the tax code and its enforcement arm, the IRS, as vital to their end-game. However, when the Republicans controlled the White House and one or both houses of Congress, they never seriously proposed any significant change to the tax code and paid little or no attention to evolving near-fascist mindset within the IRS.
Over the past three years, while the IRS management, with a wink and a nod from the White House, targeted conservative groups of all stripes, many Republicans in Congress were inundated with letters and complaints from these same constituents. Rather than aggressively pursue these grievances, many simply wrote letters to the IRS hierarchy and accepted at face value whatever they were told in response. The political persecution of conservatives thus continued guaranteeing the re-election of Barack Obama.
Why was there a reluctance to assertively come to the aid of the Tea Party or other conservative groups when it was obvious what was happening? Was it because the IRS has grown into such a monolithic power center that they can intimidate politicians asking too many questions? Was it because the Republican establishment has such an ambivalent attitude towards these groups that they were not really interested in helping them? Was it because the government needs to wring out every bit of money it can from the American taxpayer to fund an out of control government that it doesn't matter what the IRS does?
Over the years I have had many conversations with politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. concerning the increasing power of the IRS. As an immigrant to this nation from a continent nearly destroyed by a World War fomented by all-powerful governments controlled by megalomaniacs and their secret police, I have always been acutely sensitive to any aggregation of power by government agencies that directly impact the daily lives of the citizenry. However, a personal experience with the IRS convinced me that this agency could easily be transformed into a political and enforcement bludgeon.
Many years ago I received a notice that I and a company I owned were subject to a TCMP (Taxpayer Compliance Measurement Program) audit. These audits were ostensibly performed in order to collect statistical information for the IRS database; they were also euphemistically nicknamed the "audits from hell." Essentially the tax payer has to produce documentation to justify every line on the tax form. This includes all income, deductions, expenses etc regardless of the complexities of the return.
As the year being audited was two years in the past, gathering and finding all the information was a major project, particularly for the business. This included cancelled checks, invoices, bank deposits, expense reports among many other necessary documents. After this came the meetings with the IRS agents to review literally everything that had to be produced in order to reconstruct the tax returns. There were six meetings with the IRS over a six month period until the audit was complete. During that period of time I was pulled away from the business for over 200 hours and the direct out of pocket costs exceeded $18,000.00. The result of the audit: the company was assessed an additional $450.00 in taxes due to a mistake in a depreciation schedule on a company car.
But what concerned me more was the ability of the IRS to intimidate the taxpayer and the enormity of the power they had at their disposal to destroy anyone. My admittedly overly sensitive antenna convinced me that if those with narcissistic and megalomaniacal tendencies were ever to dominate the federal government for any extended period of time this agency would become there quasi secret police and too powerful to control.
Over the years whenever I expressed these concerns to those in Washington I was greeted with a quizzical expression and told I was being paranoid. Essentially the belief was it could never happen here. This attitude extended to those in the Republican Party, which ostensibly is the party of individual freedom and liberty.
As this ever-expanding scandal reveals, the IRS has become a rogue agency and an arm of the political machinery in the Obama White house. What I have feared is coming to past. The IRS must be dissolved and the tax code replaced by either a "Fair Tax" or an exceedingly simple flat tax requiring no more than a four or five line return. Never has there been a better time to put an end to this government tyranny. Any Republican either in office or running for office that cannot support these positions must be defeated as they are, essentially, in support of the status quo and the growth of a police state.