IRS 'In Crisis' Owes Apology Payments, Reform Efforts, Says Taxpayer Advocate

Reason 24/7ReasonYou know who else is pissed about the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative (and some liberal) critics of the Obama administration for "special scrutiny" of their applications for tax-exempt status? The IRS's own taxpayer advocate, Nina Olson, that's who. Not only did the IRS's actions violate guidelines that her office has recommended for years, but Exempt Organizations officials went out of their way to avoid complying with legal requirements to inform her office of delays in processing applications, and otherwise deliberately stonewalled her efforts to intervene. The result is a special report excoriating Exempt Organizations officials and describing the IRS as a whole as being "in crisis." At the very least, she wants mistreated taxpayers to receive small monetary payments as a token of apology, as well as reforms in how the IRS does business.

From USA Today:

Taxpayers who receive unfair treatment from the Internal Revenue Service should be eligible for $1,000 "apology payments" from the IRS, the agency's own taxpayer advocate proposed Wednesday.

In a special report to Congress following the IRS's targeting of political groups for special scrutiny, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said the tax agency's Exempt Organizations unit trampled on eight of 10 rights in her Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

"Today, the IRS is an institution in crisis," wrote Olson, who heads a semi-independent unit of the IRS that looks out for taxpayer interests. "As a consequence of this crisis, the IRS gives limited consideration to taxpayer rights or fundamental tax administration principles as it struggles to get its job done."

According to the report, "The attitude that EO does not have to be responsive to TAS permeated the organization and persists to this day, with one EO employee recently complaining about being 'so tired of you [TAS case advocate] calling.'" Overall, with regard to the targeting of political organizations:

[Taxpayer Advocate Service] found that inadequate guidance, inadequate training, inadequate systems, inadequate metrics, insufficient transparency, and management failures all contributed to the problems, along with EO’s failure to vet its guidance with TAS and EO leadership’s failure to acknowledge TAS’s statutory authority ...

The Taxpayer Advocate's report also points to a near-total lack of remedies for taxpayers who believed they were being jerked around, since "[t]here is no express taxpayer 'right' to prompt service or to avoid intrusive inquiries," so officials could just diddle along with little consequence, especially since the Advocate's office had been sidelined.

Of course, being an IRS employee, a big part of Olson's recommendations involve more funding for the tax-collection agency

There's plenty more in Special Report to Congress: Political Activity and the Rights of Applicants for Tax-Exempt Status.

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  • Warrren||

    We screwed up! Give us more money! You can totally trust us this time!

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You know who else is pissed about the Internal Revenue Service's targeting...? The IRS's own taxpayer advocate, Nina Olson, that's who.

    AKA HITLER.

    How can a bureaucracy wield ultimate power if it has to adhere to a bunch of guidelines?

  • Warrren||

    Activia for digestive health!

  • ||

    I don't have a problem with the IRS issuing apology payments in principal (so long as the money comes from the salaries of the IRS assholes who owe them an apology.) But in practice, this will mean every group who ever had a problem with the IRS will file for an apology payment, and the IRS will spend 20x the value of the payments hiring new IRS assholes to process them.

  • ||

    Shit. Principle. Sigh.

  • ||

    I have to admit I'm kind of stunned that there is a Taxpayer Advocate and that they actually advocate things that would benefit taxpayers (for the most part).

  • ||

    It seems like a fairly toothless position though. Sort of like high school class president.

  • ||

    It's still more than I expected, and they seem to be actually at least trying to advocate for the taxpayer, even if they are mostly ignored.

    Remember the position I'm (we are) coming from here, too; I expect nothing, so something, even this small, is...something. Not that it matters.

  • ||

    I'll grant you that. Every time I go to the DMV I expect it to be hell. When it's merely unpleasant, I'm always delightfully surprised.

  • ||

    Yeah, the pistol permit office in Seattle is possibly the simplest and easiest thing I've ever had to deal with regarding the government, so that was a pleasant surprise. I'll take those rarities when I can get them.

  • Warrren||

    The DMV in Las Vegas is something to behold.

  • DontShootMe||

    Well, I'm sure the IRS has their own version of a SWAT team. Give the Taxpayer Advocate half of IRS SWAT, and let her conduct raids on IRS offices with them...

  • Certified Public Asskicker||

    Eh, in my experience they are full of it. They're not really for simplification because, well, then they would no longer be needed.

  • Bardas Phocas||

    Blondie: You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.

  • ||

    There's no name on it!

  • Warrren||

    Wah woo woo!

  • Hyperion||

    In other news (sorry.... well, not really, but...), our left coast utopia state does it again:

    CA man faces 13 years in prison for writing bad things about the banks, in chalk

    "The State's Vandalism Statute does not mention First Amendment rights," ruled Judge Shore on Tuesday.

    Wow, in CA, if a statute gets written that does not specifically include first amendment rights, then that pesky free speech stuff is out of here, baby! FORWARD COMRADES!

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I'm going to go ahead and take a guess that the vandalism statute was written about the same time that the three-strikes law was. For all of its liberal thinking, California criminal law is written by and for the prison guard unions.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    I'm going to go ahead and take a guess that the vandalism statute was written about the same time that the three-strikes law was. For all of its liberal thinking, California criminal law is written by and for the prison guard unions.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    OK, I'll take 2 guesses

  • Hyperion||

    I think the squirrels are loose again. I was having some kind of weird script error message when I was trying to post my last comment.

  • ||

    It's not like the guy specifically mentioned his 1st amendment rights, so that means he's not protected. Or something.

  • Hyperion||

    According to the San Diego Reader, which reported on Tuesday that a judge had opted to prevent Olson’s attorney from "mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial

    Maybe that's why he failed to mention it.

  • ||

    I was being snarky about the 5th Amendment thing from last week.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    That sounds like a built-in appeal to me.

  • Ted S.||

    You know who else had built-in appeal?

  • Jordan||

    The land of classical liberals.

    /Shreeeeeeeeeek

  • Tonio||

    Oh, if only we had the Censor.

  • Zombie Jimbo||

    The Censor would need tactical nukes.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Not true. Simply a Rod of Correction. Nuclear-powered, yes, but only emitting streams of electrons. Just short of lethality.

  • John||

    Pro Liberate is ready and waiting for the job. It was what he was born to do.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Four billion years of evolution wasted so far.

  • John||

    The problem here seems to be the idea the writing something on a public sidewalk is vandalism. If he had spray painted the messages on the banks' windows or its outside wall or otherwise defaced private property, there would be no 1st Amendment issue here.

    But since when is writing a message on a public sidewalk in water soluble chalk "vandalism". According to this judge, little girls who play hop scotch on the sidewalks in front of their homes are liable for fines and imprisonment measuring in years not days.

  • ||

    I'll just leave this here.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    In a special report to Congress following the IRS's targeting of political groups for special scrutiny, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said the tax agency's Exempt Organizations unit trampled on eight of 10 rights in her Taxpayers Bill of Rights.

    "Today, the IRS is an institution in crisis," wrote Olson, who heads a semi-independent unit of the IRS that looks out for taxpayer interests. "As a consequence of this crisis, the IRS gives limited consideration to taxpayer rights or fundamental tax administration principles as it struggles to get its job done."

    If only she had prefaced this with, "Listen, you idiots:"

  • Hyperion||

    Well, I think if only they had come out when this scandal first began and said something, you know, something the common folk can understand, like:

    'Look, we're really fucking busy stealing your money and redistributing it as we see fit, so your rights are, you have no rights, so fuck you, that's why'.

    Then everyone would have felt better and it would all be ok now. It's just all this fuss about the peons having rights and all that's really mucking things up.

  • Dave Krueger||

    I can easily see how this will lead to some commendations for EO people and some firings in he TAS office. Nothing demands a federal agency housecleaning quite like criticism from an oversight department.

  • DontShootMe||

    Funniest thing I've read all day.

  • John||

    Another Washington IRS official pled the 5th before Congress today. Remember this whole thing is just a few rogue officials and no one was ever targeted anyway. Pay no attention to the various Dem hacks being advised by their lawyers to take the 5th before Congress.

  • Pro Libertate||

    I've heard enough, counselor. I'm ready to make my ruling.

    The IRS is guilty of treason and heresy. I hereby sentence it to death. The sentence to be carried out immediately.

  • John||

    Cut their budget. End the existence of their agency. It is the only thing these people will understand. Sending a few people to jail won't deter those who remain behind. But cutting their budget, it will terrify them. If you don't believe me, look at what happened to the intel community after the Church commission. It resulted in massive cuts to the CIA and basically left them spooked and scared until 9-11.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Okay, the budget is cut. To $0.00. Forever.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Not only did the IRS's actions violate guidelines that her office has recommended for years, but Exempt Organizations officials went out of their way to avoid complying with legal requirements to inform her office of delays in processing applications, and otherwise deliberately stonewalled her efforts to intervene"

    But don't forget this all was merely the action of a few rogue employees without any high level direction whatsoever and certainly was not at the directive of any Obama administration officials.

    The prez only learned about it in the newspaper dontcha know.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Tell me again how an EMPLOYEE being questioned on matters directly related to job performance by his/her EMPLOYERS falls under the protection of the Fifth.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Oh, I can answer that. See, what they were doing was against the law. So they could be prosecuted for that. If we had a special prosecutor, then he'd be offering immunity about now to implicate the people above them, including, of course, the president. Which is why we can't have such a thing.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "You suck at your job. Clean out your desk; a security guard will escort you from the building."

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Does Congress have police power, other than Contempt of Congress (and who ISN'T guilty of that?), which would allow them to charge and prosecute lawbreakers? They could say, "Hey, Eric, that guy just told us he broke the law," and Holder could then initiate a criminal investigation, right?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    "Did you, or did you not, give that "Wimpy" guy a hamburger, even though he didn't pay for it?"

    "Jeepers, Sir, he said he'd pay me Tuesday."

    That's it, I'm calling the cops."

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