Tag Archive: IRS


Senate Passes Insurance Industry Aid Bill

Photo credit: Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

The healthcare.gov website continues to be a nightmare for those Americans trying to enroll and receive subsidized insurance. The law behind it all, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is also causing millions of Americans to lose their current insurance (over 5 million so far). These unfortunate people had low-priced insurance plans with limited coverage, plans that do not meet the minimum requirements for insurance under Obamacare. There is only one group of people that appears set to win from Obamacare: tax fraudsters.

The main feature of Obamacare is a system of subsidies to make insurance affordable for people who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid and too little to afford market price insurance policies. The law also provides coverage for children under 26 on their parents’ insurance and people with pre-existing conditions can now buy insurance at more favorable premiums. However, the main mechanisms for expanding coverage are making people eligible for Medicaid or offering them subsidies.

People who earn slightly more than the poverty level and who were not previously eligible for Medicaid (either because of earning too much or because they are childless adults) will now get Medicaid, free federal government health insurance, if they live in a state that agreed to expand Medicaid to cover that group of people.

People who earn from 133 percent to 400 percent of the poverty line are eligible for subsidies when they purchase insurance policies through a state exchange. There are currently lawsuits over whether it is legal for the federal government to offer the subsidies to people who buy insurance from the federal exchange (the law never says they can). However, the Obama administration plans to offer the subsidies through the federal exchanges whether it is legal or not.

These issues are all fairly well known, but what has been much more sparsely reported is that the law is almost perfectly designed for tax fraud. This tax fraud, which will be at least somewhat legal, will happen in two stages.

First, the way the Obama administration is implementing the law allows people to state their income with little to no verification. By stating a low income, people can qualify for a large subsidy which gets paid in advance. When people receiving 2014 subsidies file their taxes in April 2015, if it turns out their income was higher than they originally stated, you might think they would then have to repay the subsidy.

But now we get to the second part of the tax fraud. Under the law it is not only difficult for the government to get its money back, in some cases it is legally impossible. There are two limits on the ability of the IRS to collect the overpayment.

The IRS is not allowed to place a lien on your property or garnish your wages in order to collect money owed under Obamacare. This applies to both overpayment of subsidies and to the penalty for not purchasing insurance at all. That means unless a person voluntarily pays what is owed the IRS can only collect money from people who would otherwise be owed a refund on their taxes. If someone owes money either for not purchasing insurance or overpayment of a subsidy, the IRS can deduct the amount owed from the refund the person would have received. If they are not owed a refund large enough to collect the entire amount, there is nothing more the IRS can do.

 

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CNS NEWS .com

IRS Employees’ Union Urges Members to Oppose Obamacare–For Themselves

July 26, 2013 – 1:12 PM

NTEU members

NTEU members (AP photo)

(CNSNews.com) – The National Treasury Employees Union, which represents Internal Revenue Service employees, is urging its members to oppose legislation that would force federal employees off their government healthcare plans and onto the state and national healthcare exchanges established under Obamacare.

Members of Congress and their staffers are already required to participate in the exchanges, which will go into effect next October 1st under the Affordable Care Act.

However, a bill (HR 1780) introduced in April by Rep. David Camp (R–Mich.) would extend that requirement to all federal employees, an idea that does not sit well with the union.

So NTEU is strongly urging its members –  including the Internal Revenue Service agents tasked with implementing Obamacare – to oppose Camp’s legislation, which would compel them to personally participate in the same healthcare program they will be enforcing.

On the NTEU website, union members are urged to email their congressman and senators, asking them to oppose H.R.1780. NTEU provides a sample letter that members can simply sign and send, or rewrite it as they wish:

 

 

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Sen. Sessions: We Should Do Everything We Can to Undo Obamacare

July 26, 2013 – 10:23 AM

(CNSNews.com) – Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) said that members of Congress must do everything in their power to block the individual mandate in President Obama’s signature health care law from going into effect in 2014.

On Capitol Hill Wednesday, CNSNews.com asked Sessions: “Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) wants the upcoming continuing resolution (CR)  to include language that prohibits funding for the individual mandate in Obamacare because the [similar] mandate for big corporations has already been postponed. Do you agree with Senator Lee and do you think funding for the individual mandate should be halted?”

“We should do everything that we can to block that… (to) undo Obamacare,” Sessions responded.

Lee has spent the last two weeks stating that he will refuse to vote for any continuing resolution that continues to fund the federal government past September 30th if it includes funding for the individual mandate component of Obamacare.

“The remedy is for Congress to refuse to fund the implementation of the program that the president insists is not ready to be implemented,” said Lee in an interview with CNSNews.com on July 11.

On July 2, the Obama administration announced that the section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that requires employers to provide health insurance to employees would be postponed a year until 2015.  But the individual mandate is still slated to go into effect in 2014.

“Right now, this is the last stop before Obamacare fully kicks in on Jan. 1 of next year, for us to refuse to fund it.” Lee told FOX News Monday.

 

 

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IRS buying tiny surveillance equipment hidden in plants, coffee trays, clock radios

By Madison Ruppert

Editor of End the Lie

(Image credit: Jeremy Brooks/Flickr)

(Image credit: Jeremy Brooks/Flickr)

Apparently the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has branched out from just reading e-mails and other electronic communications without a warrant into the realm of physical surveillance.

A purchase request for cameras and recording equipment small enough to be concealed in everyday household items was submitted by the IRS recently, showing that it isn’t content with the many scandals already plaguing the agency.

Interestingly, the IRS apparently needs the equipment quite urgently. The solicitation was posted on June 6 and is looking to have it fulfilled by June 11, according to the solicitation.

The descriptions of the items in the solicitation “are vague due to the use and nature of the items,” according to the posting.

The items the IRS is purchasing include four “Covert Coffee tray[s] with Camera concealment,” two “Concealed clock radio[s],” and four remote surveillance systems with built-in DVD burners and 2 internal hard drives along with cameras.

The IRS also wants, “(QTY 4) Plant Concealment Color 700 Lines Color IP Camera Concealment with Single Channel Network Server, supports dual video stream, Poe [power over Ethernet], software included, case included, router included” along with “(QTY 4) Color IP Camera Concealment with single channel network server, supports dual video stream, poe, webviewer and cms [content management system] software included, audio.”

The original solicitation was only available to private companies for bids for 19 business hours, according to CNS News.

The purpose for the equipment has not been revealed and the company fulfilling the also remains unknown, even though a provider has been secured, according to the Daily Caller.

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Published time: June 04, 2013 01:33

AFP Photo / George Rose

AFP Photo / George Rose

An internal watchdog claims the IRS spent $50 million on ‘inappropriate’ conference funds during a three-year period – news that serves to further embarrass the agency in wake of its targeting of conservative groups.

The Internal Revenue Service allegedly spent nearly $50 million on about 200 employee conferences between 2010 and 2012, during which it frequently provided its workers with presidential hotel suites and allowed them to take dance classes and attend baseball games, according to excerpts from an inspector general’s report slated to be released Tuesday.

An August 2010 conference in Anaheim, Calif., cost the IRS $4 million. About 2,600 managers attended the event and stayed in presidential hotel suites that usually cost $1,500 to $3,500 per night. About 15 outside speakers were paid $135,000 each, one of which was hired to discuss “leadership through art”, according to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which released the excerpts.

The IRS also failed to negotiate lower room rates, which is a standard practice for federal government agencies. Employees who attended the conference also received a number of costly benefits, including baseball tickets at taxpayers’ expense.

“They ended up with free drinks, they ended up with tickets to games – basically kickbacks,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the House oversight panel that released the excerpts, told NBC News.

 

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Report: Treasury finds IRS spent $50M on conferences in 3 years

 

By Meghashyam Mali 06/02/13 08:25 PM ET

 

A review by the Treasury Department’s inspector general found that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) spent $50 million dollars on conferences for employees between 2010 to 2012, according to reports.

The audit, set to be released on Tuesday, says the agency spent the funds on more than 200 employee conferences, including an August 2010 meeting in Anaheim, Calif., which cost taxpayers $4 million.

 

According to a statement from the House Oversight Committee, 15 outside speakers at the event were paid a total of $135,000 and many attendees were given perks including baseball tickets and suites at the hotel, the AP reported.The new report comes as the tax agency already faces congressional anger over its targeting of conservative political groups and will likely bring further scrutiny on Capitol Hill.

Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) is set to hold a hearing on IRS conference spending on Thursday.

 

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IRS Gift Rule Turned on Politics as Crisis Prompts Reform

Danny Werfel, the acting IRS commissioner  Photographer: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

IRS Gift Rule Turned on Politics as Crisis Prompts Reform

By Richard Rubin – Jun 2, 2013 11:00 PM CT

The last time the Internal Revenue Service waded into a fight on politically active nonprofit groups, the agency capitulated quickly and let people make undisclosed, untaxed payments to groups financing campaign ads.

In 2011, under pressure from Republicans, the IRS shut down an attempt to impose gift taxes on donations to so-called social welfare organizations. The move led to a “free-for-all” by donors while clearing up decades of ambiguity on how it would enforce the law, said Ofer Lion, an attorney at Hunton & Williams LLP (1130L) in Los Angeles.

The new controversy surrounding IRS scrutiny of small-government groups focuses attention again on how the agency handles politically sensitive issues. Lessons from the 2011 episode were obvious and yet recurred in 2013, as a lack of clear rules and management left the agency vulnerable to employee misconduct, open to charges of bias against Republicans and their allies and flat-footed when confronted with an outcry from lawmakers.

“It took a crisis to get reform, and I think that’s where we are now,” Greg Colvin, a partner at Adler & Colvin in San Francisco, said of the gift tax case. “It’s going to take a crisis like this to cause the IRS and Congress to realize that you can’t keep tolerating this kind of inadequate supervision and have the IRS refereeing what is and is not political.”

The IRS’s enforcement of tax laws on nonprofit groups re-enters the spotlight this week as Congress returns from a one-week recess, intent on searching for evidence of partisan motivations or senior executives’ involvement in targeting anti-tax Tea Party groups. The IRS revealed May 10 that some small-government groups got extra attention because of their names. Since then, six congressional committees have started inquiries, the Justice Department began a criminal probe, and three employees left their jobs early or were placed on leave.

First Appearance

Danny Werfel, the acting IRS commissioner, will make his first public appearance at a House hearing today since taking over May 22. Tomorrow, the House Ways and Means Committee is asking groups singled out for tougher scrutiny to testify about their experiences. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee will meet June 6 to review an audit of spending on IRS conferences, including parody videos.

Congressional investigators are interviewing IRS employees and seeking past-due answers to lists of questions they sent the agency. The IRS says it is trying to be “exceedingly thorough” as it prepares responses.

The 2011 gift-tax flap and the new controversy over applications for tax-exempt status both stem from the same corner of the tax code.

Social Welfare

Groups organized under section 501(c)(4) are required to operate “exclusively” for the benefit of social welfare and don’t have to disclose their donors. Contributions aren’t tax-deductible and the groups don’t have to pay taxes on their investment income.

The IRS interprets that law to let 501(c)(4) groups engage in political activity, as long as that’s not their primary purpose. Many of those groups, including the Republican-allied Crossroads GPS and the Democratic-allied Priorities USA, spent heavily on campaign ads last year.

Such groups spent $256 million during the 2012 election cycle, according to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign finance issues.

The controversy for the past month has revolved around the scrutiny applied to groups applying for tax-exempt status.

Five Donors

The gift-tax issue is different because it involves donors to the groups. In 2011, the IRS sent letters to five donors, opening audits on whether their contributions to the groups should count as taxable gifts.

The Wall Street Journal reported May 31 that all five donors had given to Freedom’s Watch, which was formed to support President George W. Bush’s policies in Iraq. One of the group’s main backers was Sheldon Adelson, chairman and chief executive officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp.

The IRS was on solid legal ground, according to a 2012 analysis by the Congressional Research Service. The tax code specifically exempts contributions to charities under section 501(c)(3) and political groups under section 527 from the gift tax. The IRS hadn’t been enforcing the gift tax for contributions to 501(c)(4) groups although it had, in effect, said in a 1982 revenue ruling that the tax could be applied.

 

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Issa Sees Washington IRS Connection in Employee Interview

By Richard Rubin & William Selway Jun 3, 2013 12:11 PM CT

The tougher scrutiny given to Tea Party groups by the Internal Revenue Service was “coordinated in all likelihood” from Washington, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee alleged, bolstering his case with excerpts of interviews with agency employees.

“The administration’s still trying to say there’s a few rogue agents in Cincinnati when in fact the indication is they were directly being ordered from Washington,” Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican, said yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

In the interviews, one employee, described as “more senior,” said it was understood that the purpose was to single out conservative and Republican groups and that some officials in Washington were involved.“I mean, rogue agent?” the employee said, according to a partial transcript released by Issa’s office. “Even though I was taking all my direction from” technical experts in Washington, “I didn’t want my name in the paper for being this rogue agent for a project I had no control over.”

The panel didn’t disclose which employees were being quoted, what else they said or who in Washington was thought to be involved. Working with other panels, the oversight committee has said it was interviewing John Shafer, Gary Muthert, Liz Hofacre and Joseph Herr, all of whom worked in the Cincinnati office, where the applications were processed. Issa said the committee staff has 18 more interviews to do.

Tax Exempt

Previous public reports on the IRS’s scrutiny of Tea Party groups applying for tax-exempt status, which started in 2010, have shown that some officials in Washington were aware of how the applications were being handled before a June 2011 meeting. At the time Lois Lerner, then director of exempt organizations, learned about what was happening and ordered it changed.

Nothing released yesterday directly undercuts that timeline or shows that Lerner or anyone above her was aware of the selective scrutiny earlier than stated.

Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the top Democrat on Issa’s committee, said in a statement yesterday that no witnesses have identified Washington IRS workers as ordering the use of “Tea Party” to screen applications.

“Rather than lobbing unsubstantiated conclusions on national television for political reasons, we need to work in a bipartisan way to follow the facts where they lead,” he said.

Three Executives

The revelation last month that the IRS applied extra scrutiny to small-government groups has led to six congressional inquiries, a criminal probe and three IRS executives, including Lerner, being pushed out of their jobs early or temporarily.

Danny Werfel, the acting IRS commissioner, is scheduled to make his first appearance at a congressional hearing today since taking over May 22.

Werfel announced several personnel moves today. He selected Heather Maloy, who had been overseeing large businesses, as deputy commissioner for services and enforcement, taking the place of Steve Miller, who was acting commissioner before he was forced out.

W. Todd Grams, the chief financial officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, will be Werfel’s chief of staff, rejoining the IRS, where he was chief information officer and chief financial officer. Jennifer O’Connor, who was a partner at the WilmerHale law firm in Washington, will be counselor to Werfel and Chief Counsel William Wilkins.

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Issa: White House spokesman ‘paid liar’ regarding IRS

Republican Congressman Darrell Issa said in an interview Sunday that the Obama administration directed the IRS to target Tea Party groups and that soon-to-be-released transcripts would prove his accusation.

“Their paid liar, their spokesperson—picture behind,” Issa said on CNN’s State of the Union while sitting in front a photo of White House spokesman Jay Carney. “He’s still making up things about what happens and calling this a local rogue.”

The IRS maintains that two “rogue” administrators at the agency’s Cincinnati office were responsible for singling out conservative Tea Party groups for scrutiny in their applications for tax-exempt non-profit status.

Last week, Lois Lerner, director of Tax-Exempt Organizations at the IRS, was placed on administrative leave. Lerner had invoked her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in a House Oversight Committee hearing chaired by Issa.

In the weeks since the targeting was made public, it’s come to light that several of the Tea Party groups that were targeted for extra scrutiny have close ties to the Republican Party—a violation of the non-profit status rules that would allow them to remain tax-exempt.

There has been no evidence that the Obama administration knew of the targeting, although senior officials at the Treasury Department were alerted about the IRS audits last summer.

But Issa, chair of the House Oversight Committee, said that the Obama administration directed the entire affair.

“As late as last week the administration’s still trying to say there’s a few rogue agents in Cincinnati when in fact the indication is they were directly being ordered from Washington,” he said.

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Logo of the Internal Revenue Service

Logo of the Internal Revenue Service (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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By Vicki Needham 06/03/13 06:02 PM ET

TUESDAY’S BIG STORY: 

Tell me a little about yourself: The House Ways and Means Committee will chat with a handful of Tea Party groups on Tuesday about what they say was extra scrutiny by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in their application for tax-exempt status.

Lawmakers are pretty much picking up where they left off before the Memorial Day recess in drilling down into what happened with the additional attention paid to conservative groups and how to remedy the problem for the long term.

Danny Werfel, the new acting IRS chief, told a House Appropriations subcommittee on Monday that he is trying to do exactly that: fix the problems and put the agency back on good footing.

Werfel, who is no stranger to Capitol Hill, made his first appearance as the agency’s head after former acting Commissioner Steven Miller resigned amid the scandal.

He called the singling out of Tea Party groups inexcusable.

“We have a great deal of work ahead of us to review and correct the serious problems that have occurred at the IRS and continue the important work of the agency on behalf of taxpayers,” Werfel said.

He is beginning a 30-day comprehensive review of the agency, which will go much deeper than just the tax-exempt issue.

“We owe it to the American public to use this moment as an opportunity to take a hard look internally at the IRS and see where other deficiencies or risks may exit, and take action to address them,” he said.

Top appropriators made clear the IRS’s budget will undergo a tough examination in the coming months.Democrats offered little cover to the IRS, but urged a closer look at what happened in the years before the Obama administration.

Russell George, the Treasury inspector general for Tax Administration who outlined the targeting, is expected to release a new report on Tuesday that outlines excessive spending at IRS conferences.

That review found that the IRS spent $50 million on conferences for employees between 2010 to 2012.

George told the panel on Monday that what his probe discovered was “unprecedented,” and that the closest comparison that came to mind was the targeting of political enemies by the administration of Richard Nixon.

A key question is how IRS employees in Cincinnati came to identify tax-exempt applications for extra scrutiny.

Congressional Republicans have expressed disbelief the practice could have been created by low-level employees acting out of bounds. George said in conducting his investigation of the practice, IRS employees were asked who gave the direction, and no one would answer the question.

On Tuesday, Ways and Means will hold their second hearing on the IRS scandal, the fifth overall in Congress, with six Tea Party groups that have been scheduled to give first-person accounts of the IRS’s targeting of conservative organizations.

John Eastman, the president of the National Organization for Marriage — a prominent group opposing same-sex marriage — is among those scheduled to appear, after the group announced plans last month to sue the IRS.

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Jonathan Ernst / Reuters

Lois Lerner, director of Exempt Organizations for the IRS, is surrounded by Capitol police as she boards an elevator after being excused from a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing in Washington on Wednesday.

Additional scrutiny of conservative organizations’ activities by the IRS did not solely originate in the agency’s Cincinnati office, with requests for information coming from other offices and often bearing the signatures of higher-ups at the agency, according to attorneys representing some of the targeted groups. At least one letter requesting information about one of the groups bears the signature of Lois Lerner, the suspended director of the IRS Exempt Organizations department in Washington.

Jay Sekulow, an attorney representing 27 conservative political advocacy organizations that applied to the Internal Revenue Service for tax-exempt status, provided some of the letters to NBC News.  He said the groups’ contacts with the IRS prove that the practices went beyond a few “front line” employees in the Cincinnati office, as the IRS has maintained.

“We’ve dealt with 15 agents, including tax law specialists — that’s lawyers — from four different offices, including (the) Treasury (Department) in Washington, D.C.,” Sekulow said. “So the idea that this is a couple of rogue agents in Cincinnati is not correct.”

Among the letters were several that bore return IRS addresses other than Cincinnati, including IRS headquarters in Washington, and the signatures of IRS officials higher up the chain. Lerner’s signature, which appeared to be a stamp rather than an actual signature, appeared on a letter requesting additional information from the Ohio Liberty Council Corp.

Lerner has become one of the public faces of the controversy after refusing to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last Wednesday, citing her Constitutional Fifth Amendment rights after reading a brief statement: “I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws, violated IRS regulations or provided false information to this or any other committee.”

She was put on administrative leave at the end of last week after reportedly refusing to resign at Obama administration’s request. She is continuing to collect federal paychecks on her almost $180,000 annual salary, though at least one Republican senator, Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, is urging the agency to speed up the process and fire her.

In the two weeks since the IRS acknowledged it targeted conservative organizations seeking status as tax-exempt “social welfare” organizations for additional scrutiny, many Republicans have sought to link the agency’s actions to the White House. In an Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post on May 22, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wrote that “the administration has been extremely creative in employing throughout the federal government the sorts of intimidation tactics that were used at the IRS.”

The White House has dismissed suggestions it was aware of the targeting, saying President Barack Obama only learned of the issue when it broke in the news on May 10. White House spokesman Jay Carney has since deflected most questions about the scandal, saying it would be inappropriate to comment until an FBI inquiry into the agency’s actions – one of five separate government investigations — is concluded.

For its part, the IRS has declined additional comment beyond its congressional testimony — including former IRS Commissioner Steven Miller’s testimony that IRS employees didn’t have partisan motives and only made “foolish mistakes … trying to be more efficient” — and other previously released public statements, including its response to a Treasury inspector general  (see pages 49-51) and a Q&A on 501 (c) groups it published on its website.

But attorneys for some of the targeted groups’ provided documentation and two IRS employees in the Cincinnati office made statements to NBC News that call into question parts of the official explanation Americans have heard from the IRS so far.

Sekulow, who worked with the office of the chief counsel of the IRS in the early 1980s as a trial lawyer representing the IRS on tax-exempt cases, said the number of groups he’s heard from, and the scope of the requests for information the IRS sent them, persuaded him “that this was not something that was just created at an agent level, that this was certainly higher up.”

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The Truth Comes Out: Former IRS Director Admits Taxes Are Voluntary

susanne_posel_news_ irs_political-groups_liveSusanne Posel
Occupy Corporatism
May 23, 2013

Steve Miller, former Director of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), admitted at a Congressional hearing that the taxes collected by the IRS are not mandatory – but voluntary.

When questioned at the House Ways and Means Committee (WMC) hearing last week, Miller told House Representative Devin Nunes that “America’s tax system is ‘voluntary’”. When Nunes remarked for clarification that the US tax code is a “voluntary system”, Miller said, “Agreed.”

House Representative Xavier Becerra commented that the ruse of the IRS is kept as a public confidence in the system scheme to keep Americans paying money to the IRS.

Miller confirmed this is so.

The shuffle at the IRS has landed Danny Werfel as the new acting director.

As his first message to those employed at the IRS, Werfel said that amid the mistrust of the public brewing against the organization, it is the mission of all employees to “help America’s taxpayers understand and meet their tax responsibilities.”

Werfel invoked the tragedy at Oklahoma to coerce his underlings into believing that they are doing a great work. He said: “. . . as the nation comes together to support the victims of the devastating tornados in Oklahoma, we should all feel a sense of pride that IRS is actively supporting the recovery effort and doing our part to help.”

President Obama anointed Werfel as a replacement for Miller who was asked to resign just a month before his term as acting director of the IRS was complete.

Werfel has a history working for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and an analyst for the Department of Justice (DoJ). Obama describes Werfel as having “proven an effective leader who serves with professionalism, integrity and skill.”

Senator Orin Hatch commented on Obama’s choice of putting a businessman in place at the IRS: “If I was the president I would find the very best businessman I possibly could who’d be willing to take it over and have the authority to be able to straighten the mess out. I don’t know whether Werfel has that kind of dimension or not, but I hope he does.”

Lois Lerner, director of the Tax-Exempt division at the IRS during the targeting of Patriot groups refused to speak to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, claiming her right of the 5th Amendment.

William Taylor III, attorney for Lerner, requested in a letter that preceded her arrival, asking the OGRC that she be allowed to refrain from appearing before the committee. Taylor claimed that be forcing Lerner, it “would have no purpose other than to embarrass or burden her.”

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IRS official to plead the Fifth before House Oversight Committee

By Peter Schroeder and Bernie Becker 05/21/13 08:30 PM ET

Lois Lerner, the Internal Revenue Service official at the eye of the storm over the improper scrutiny of conservative groups, will refuse to answer questions from the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.

Through her attorney, Lerner stated her intention to invoke her Fifth Amendment rights after being called to testify.

“She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation, but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” her attorney, William W. Taylor III wrote in a letter to Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).Her refusal to testify is the latest roadblock slowing lawmakers’ efforts to get to the bottom of the targeting of Tea Party groups.

Lerner, the head of the IRS’s exempt organizations division, was clearly going to be pressed by lawmakers about the honesty — or otherwise — of her previous responses before Congress on whether the IRS had targeted Tea Party groups.

She has already apologized for the imbroglio, but the Justice Department has launched a criminal probe into the matter. Lawmakers have repeatedly contended that IRS officials, including Lerner, misled Congress about its existence.

“We’re going to review with her what road she led us down previously,” said Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), before news broke of Lerner’s refusal. “To be able to go back and review with her what she said previously versus what she might say on Wednesday, that’s going to make for an interesting exercise in contradictions.”

Both parties have criticized Lerner for being less than forthcoming with Congress. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-N.Y.) has called for her resignation, after she did not disclose the targeting in response to a direct question from the lawmaker at a hearing — two days before she publicly apologized for it.

A spokesman for the Oversight Committee noted that Issa has issued a subpoena to compel Lerner to appear before his panel Wednesday, even if she refuses to answer questions.

“The committee has a Constitutional obligation to conduct oversight,” said spokesman Ali Ahmad. “Chairman Issa remains hopeful that she will ultimately decide to testify [Wednesday].”

But if Lerner stonewalls Congress, it would exacerbate the frustration lawmakers feel about being stymied by tax collectors.

Wednesday’s hearing will mark the third in less than a week in which lawmakers have probed current and former IRS officials, but members are still searching for answers to a few critical questions. How did the IRS come to adopt the practice of singling out Tea Party groups for added scrutiny? What was the motivation behind filtering out the groups: partisan politics or poor judgment?

Current and former IRS officials at the top of the agency have so far been unable or unwilling to answer those questions, and lawmakers on the Oversight Committee had hoped Lerner could finally shed light on the matter.

After all, she was the IRS official who first thrust the matter into the spotlight, apologizing at a legal conference a week and a half ago for the improper targeting. And the report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) on the practice found that she directed IRS employees to stop using explicit Tea Party criteria in identifying tax-exempt applications for further scrutiny, back in June 2011.

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IRS Official Invokes 5th Amendment During Congressional Hearing On Scandal, Napolitano Cavuto

Massteaparty Massteaparty·

 

 

 

 

 

Published on May 22, 2013

MS. Lerner May Have Waved Her 5th Amendment Right By Making Statement During Congressional Hearing
IRS Official Invokes 5th Amendment During Congressional Hearing On Scandal – Napolitano Cavuto

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