Monday, June 17, 2013
Foxx on IRS Abuses - Beware, The Tax Man Cometh!~
Taxpayers shudder at the mere mention of the IRS. That image hasn’t been helped since the federal government’s most feared agency admitted to singling out conservative groups for unprecedented invasive scrutiny.
In March of 2010, the IRS began targeting groups whose applications for tax-exempt status included terms and phrases such as “tea party,” “patriot,” “We the People” or ”make America a better place to live.”
The demands levied by the IRS against private citizen groups were outrageous. Organizations seeking tax-exempt status were required to reveal to the government the names of their members, donors, reading lists, policy positions and even the contents of prayers said during meetings.
None of this information is required by law to determine tax-exempt eligibility, and by the IRS’s own admission, progressive groups were not subject to similar interrogations. There is only one effect requiring such information from regular American citizens can have: intimidation.
While some groups spent thousands of dollars defending applications that languished in the IRS for years,others gave up. The intrusiveness and prosecutorial nature of the process bullied them out of their freedom of association.
Freedoms of speech and assembly are foundational principles to America’s democracy. Throughout our history neighbors and friends have banded together to support causes and tackle problems, to make our country stronger. When government obstructs such expressions by wielding its powers in biased and threatening ways, every one of us must reject the overreach. Such actions go against everything we stand for and are rightly called “chilling” by Democrats and Republicans alike.
But mere condemnation of the practice of targeting conservatives is not enough. The problem at the IRS is with more than the search terms it used. Whether conservative or liberal, targeting Americans is wrong. The deeper problem is that government’s taxing arm ever came to consider itself the arbiter of what constitutes legitimate free speech in the first place. We have to guarantee that the hubris revealed by this discrimination is purged from our government.
Oversight of the Executive Branch and its federal agencies is one of Congress’s primary responsibilities – whether the issue is the botched handling of the terrorist attack in Benghazi, the Justice Department’s prying into journalists’ communications or the partisanship of the IRS. Consistent with that duty, the House of Representatives is conducting intensive investigations into the IRS’s admitted abuses of power.
We want to know who called the shots and why. We want to know what was done with the private information collected by the IRS. We want to know how pervasive the targeting was and where exactly the buck stops. The American people and members of Congress will not settle for cheap apologies or easy scapegoat sacrifices.
For the better part of two years, IRS officials misled Congress about the partisan targeting being carried out by the agency’s tax exempt office in Cincinnati and in Washington. We know higher level officials were informed about the practice as early as 2011, but never admitted to, and in some cases even flat-out denied it, dismissing truthful reports from unfairly targeted citizens.
Congress is intent on delivering answers and accountability to the American people. Our investigations of the IRS will be vigorous and unceasing until we can say with confidence that those responsible for its shameful behavior have been removed.
On Monday, June 17th I will be discussing these oversight efforts and other issues with 5th District Constituents during a telephone town hall meeting. Those interested in joining the conversation may dial 1-855-312-2107at 5:30 p.m. on June 17th. There will be opportunities for callers to ask questions about Congress’s ongoing oversight and share ideas on a variety of topics.
A politicized taxman is a threat to freedom for every American. With thorough bipartisan oversight, Congress will ensure the threat is removed so faith can be restored.
Posted by NewGuy at 10:51 AM