J.D. Tuccille: To End IRS Abuses of Free Speech, End the IRS


Joshua Doubek

To read the headlines, you'd think the biggest controversy involving the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is over the spat between Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) in the course of an aborted hearing into the IRS's targeting of primarily conservative political organizations. Lost in this silliness is the real issue: the threat to political expression inherent in the federal tax apparatus, no matter whether through malice, regulatory zeal, ineptitude, or sheer weight of bureaucracy. That giving the IRS the power to decide what sort of speech is acceptable was a stupid, stupid idea should have been clear from the beginning, writes J.D. Tuccille. The tax agency has a history of use as a bludgeon against enemies of sitting administrations and the IRS itself, which goes back long before the current kerfuffle. Ending such abuses will require ending the IRS.