How Obama Handles Scandals
  • Obama:(comes home from a day of golf and whatever else he's doing and turns on the news) Oh wow, that's bad. That's really bad.
  • Obama:Someone should do something.
  • News:...politicians are calling for the President to make a statement on these scandals and tell us what he's going to do to fix it...
  • Obama:Yeah, the president should get out there and --
  • Obama:Oh.
  • Obama:Wait.
  • Obama:I'm the president.
  • Obama:Oops.
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"The IRS turned over to congress most of Lois Lerner’s emails. You rarely hear that in news reports; they turned over most of her emails, including ALL of the emails from the period that congress is most interested in: the months preceding and the months during the last [2012] presidential campaign.

How many of Lois Lerner’s emails have been turned over to the House of Representatives?

The answer is 67,000 emails, but America mostly does not know that because the news media simply doesn’t have the time to add a sentence about those 67,000 emails in their IRS scandal stories.

Another fact rarely included in the news reports of the IRS news scandal is that not one Republican political group that applied for 501c4 status was denied 501c4 status. Not one Republican application was denied. The one political organization that managed to somehow get denied 501c4 status was a liberal organization called Emerge America. For most of the American news media that remains one of the secret facts of the IRS scandal.”

[Excerpts from The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell]

TIGTA Report – IRS Needs Better Strategy for Obamacare Medical Device Tax

A new report released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) says that the IRS needs to improve its strategy for ensuring accurate reporting and payment of the Medical Device Excise Tax that is included in the Affordable Care Act.

Apart from all the tax credits and other tax law changes included in the ACA, the most controversial one is perhaps the Medical Device Excise Tax.

This is an excise tax of 2.3 percent of the sales price for medical devices sold starting from January 1, 2013.

Manufacturers, producers and importers of medical device goods are now responsible for collecting the tax and filing Form 720 as their quarterly federal excise tax return.

Estimated revenues from this tax were pegged at $20 billion for the period from fiscal year 2015 to 2019.

TIGTA’s review found the number of forms 720 filed and the amount of revenue reported were much lower than expected.

TIGTA’s analysis of 5,107 forms 720 that were processed for the first half of 2013 identified discrepancies totaling almost $117.8 million compared to what the IRS toted up from the forms.

TIGTA says the IRS is trying to come up with a compliance strategy for this tax, but the agency is apparently still unable to identify the medical device manufacturers registered with the Food and Drug Administration who need to file Form 720 and pay the medical device excise tax.

“While the IRS has taken steps to educate medical device manufacturers of the medical device excise tax during implementation, it faces challenges to definitively identify manufacturers subject to the medical device excise tax reporting and payment requirements,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

As if identifying the companies that need to pay the tax wasn’t hard enough, the agency went ahead and stiffed $706,753 out of businesses through 219 failure-to-deposit penalties for the first six months of 2013, which was supposed to be a designated penalty relief period.

The IRS then backtracked on 133 of these penalty assessments, but left the others stand. When TIGTA notified the IRS about the remaining 86 penalty assessments, they were also reversed and the IRS wrote them apology letters.

TIGTA included several recommendations in the report for the IRS, including that the agency continue refining its compliance strategy for identifying noncompliant manufacturers, establish a process for verifying the tax amount for paper-filed Forms 720, and initiate correspondence with taxpayers for obtaining missing taxable sales or tax amounts.

The IRS agrees with TIGTA’s recommendations, and is planning to develop alternative strategies for identifying the medical device makers and ensuring compliance and payment of the medical device excise tax.

Read the full TIGTA report – Download (pdf)

Photo credit - will1ill/flickr

IRS penalizing pot shops for paying federal payroll tax in cash

(Cannabist) Legal marijuana businesses without bank accounts are unfairly assessed a 10 percent penalty on federal employee withholding taxes they are required to pay electronically but are forced to pay in cash, according to a lawsuit challenging the practice.

That’s because the Internal Revenue Service requires all businesses to pay the quarterly tax by bank wire, an impossibility for hundreds of medical and recreational marijuana shops nationwide that are unable to obtain banking services.

And rather than waive the penalty for cash-only businesses paying the tax on time, the IRS advised the companies to avoid the assessment by using techniques that amount to money-laundering, according to a petition filed in U.S. Tax Court.

Read more

DOJ official admits what we all know: Lois Lerner's emails exist–they just refuse to retrieve them

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Emails don’t just disappear in a puff of smoke when a hard drive crashes.  That’s not how the internet works.  It’s how the Obama administration wants you to the think the internet works, but that’s not how the internet actually works. 

Now, the Justice Department is admitting just that.

from National Review:

A Justice Department official admitted that former IRS official Lois Lerner’s apparently missing e-mails actually exist on a backup server, but the government doesn’t plan to retrieve them.

“A Department of Justice attorney told a Judicial Watch attorney on Friday that it turns out the federal government backs up all computer records in case something terrible happens in Washington and there’s a catastrophe, so the government can continue operating,” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton told Fox News’s Shannon Bream.

“But it would be too hard to go get Lois Lerner’s e-mails from that backup system,” Fitton continued, paraphrasing the DOJ official. “So, everything we’ve been hearing about scratched hard drives, about missing e-mails of Lois Lerner, other IRS officials, other officials in the Obama administration, it’s all been a pack of malarkey. They could get these records, but they don’t want to.”

read the rest

Americans can be thankful to Judicial Watch for the tireless efforts they have made towards holding the government accountable.  At some point, we will get to the bottom of the IRS targeting of Conservative groups, and we will hold those responsible accountable.

Private Collection Agencies For Delinquent Federal Tax Debts?

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Here’s a simple question – how do you feel about the IRS farming out collection of delinquent federal tax debts to private collection agencies?

For those who don’t keep track of what tax law Congress is fiddling with on any given day, this latest controversy is a part of the tax extenders bill.

Officially known as the EXPIRE Act (S.2260), it was voted down by the full Senate after being passed by the Senate Finance Committee. It’s now cooling its heels in the Senate, hoping to get another vote after negotiations which may extend into the next year.

As if there isn’t enough controversy and heat being generated by the renewal and extension of the boatload of expired tax credits and deductions that are the core components of this bill, Senators managed to add more fuel on the fire by sneaking in more measures.

One measure related to private collection agencies is drawing heavy fire from tax professionals and the media. The proposal included in the bill, if enacted into law, would allow the IRS to outsource collection of delinquent federal tax debts to private collection agencies (PCAs).

The best you can say about this idea is that Congress thinks it’s a good way to increase revenues quickly without raising taxes. Apart from that, it’s a terrible idea with extreme ramifications for taxpayers.

For starters, it’s not going to work because whatever else you think about the IRS, it’s a fact that the agency is highly effective at making people pay their taxes voluntarily. There’s no way a private tax collector will strike more fear into the hearts of delinquent taxpayers and make them pay when the IRS can’t do so.

Secondly, handing cases over to PCAs will remove any last vestiges of relief possible for those suffering from financial hardship and genuinely unable to pay their taxes.

All said and done, it’s a well-intentioned proposal that will do no good, but is likely to cause a lot of harm.

This is not just conjecture or opinion, but established fact based on the performance of the private debt collection (PDC) program administered by the IRS from 2006-2009.

Here’s what National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olsen, who was personally involved with the development of the PDC program and handled more than 3,700 cases of tax debts which PCAs were trying to collect.

Olsen says in a letter to Senators who asked for her opinion that “Based on what I saw, I concluded the program undermined effective tax administration, jeopardized taxpayer rights protections, and did not accomplish its intended objective of raising revenue. Indeed, despite projections by the Treasury Department and the Joint Committee on Taxation that the program would raise more than $1 billion in revenue, the program ended up losing money.”        

Well, that seems clear enough for ordinary mortals, but apparently not for certain Senators who are sticking to their guns and refuse to strike out the measure from the EXPIRE Act.

Photo credit – weeklydig/flickr

New Lois Lerner emails reveal disdain for Conservatives: "TerRorists...A**holes"

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Just when I thought my opinion of Lois Lerner couldn’t get any worse, we recover one of her emails.  Released today by the House Ways and Means Committee, the email makes it clear that Lois Lerner despises Conservatives.

from House Ways and Means:

Washington, DC – Today, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) sent additional evidence to the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the April 9, 2014 criminal referral letter which laid out evidence of possible criminal wrongdoing by former IRS employee Lois Lerner uncovered through the Committee’s investigation.
In releasing the letter, Camp stated, “Despite the serious investigation and evidence this Committee has undertaken into the IRS’s targeting of individuals for their beliefs, there is no indication that DOJ is taking this matter seriously. In light of this new information, I hope DOJ will aggressively pursue this case and finally appoint a special counsel, so the full truth can be revealed and justice is served.”

In the letter to DOJ, Chairman Camp revealed:

Lerner had a bias against conservatives:

A newly discovered email exchange from Ms. Lerner’s official IRS email account, dated November 9, 2012, directly demonstrates Ms. Lerner’s deep animus towards conservatives, which she refers to as “—-holes.” Lerner further illustrates her disgust with conservatives, even suggesting they will ruin the country. In her email, Lerner states: “So we don’t need to worry about alien teRrorists. (sic) It’s our own crazies that will take us down.” This email shows that Ms. Lerner’s mistreatment of conservative groups was driven by her personal hostility toward conservatives.

Lerner used her personal email for official business, including taxpayer information:

The Committee also found that Lerner used her personal email for official business, including confidential return information. The Committee believed that further investigation, using resources available to the Department of Justice, could reveal whether there was unauthorized disclosure of taxpayer information in violation of the law. A newly discovered email from February 22, 2012 shows an exchange between Ms. Lerner and an IRS IT professional regarding a “Virus on Home PC.” In the exchange, Ms. Lerner indicates that she kept work information on her home computer, some of which may have been lost. She further states that her computer may have been “simply hacked because my password was too simple.” This exchange further raises concerns that taxpayer information may have been leaked.

read the rest

Here’s sample of the emails:

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And here’s a link to the entire batch of emails released today.  They go on to show what a smug elitist she really is. 

Congressional Hearing Costs and Federal Employee Tax Debts

If you’re wondering how to imbue the IRS aka the Tax Man with more effective tax collecting superpowers, you don’t have to go looking for radioactive tax return eating spiders.

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The IRS just needs to learn how to work with Congress and other federal agencies. Did you know the IRS spent $14 million on compliance issues related to congressional hearings and inquiries?

The cost is related to the 10,595,383,081 disclosures of taxpayer information Congress received from the IRS last year, four times higher than the disclosures provided in 2012.

Granted it was a rather special year with no love lost between the IRS and the House of Representatives. Even so, it’s painful to think that $14 million is being spent on 10.56 billion disclosures to Congress, most of which likely went unread.

Oh, and just in case you’re wondering, Congress handily beat the only other agency - the Census Bureau, which asked for more than a billion disclosures. The Census Bureau asked the IRS for a paltry 1,251,947,963 disclosures.

Another interesting factoid – Affordable Care Act related tax disclosures provided by the IRS added up to 9,145,639.

Another issue that popped up last week was the stunning $3.3 billion in tax debt that needs to be collected from federal employees.

To be specific, there were 318,462 federal employees who owed back taxes as of Sept 30, 2013. Oh, and it gets better. A full 714 of these tax delinquents are on Capitol Hill, and the IRS needs to collect a total of 8.6 million from them.

To be even more specific, 4.87 percent of employees in the House of Representatives have unpaid taxes, while there are 3.24 percent in the Senate.

Lest we forget, the Executive Office of the President has 36 employees who are tax delinquents, so the malaise is just as widespread on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

In case you didn’t know, the Treasury Department, which includes the IRS, has a far lower rate of tax delinquents who add up to a mere 1.2 percent of the department’s workforce.

Maybe the IRS could herd all these delinquent cats into one room and tell them that they can either pay their taxes right away or get Congress and the Obama Administration to work together and pass a few tax reform laws that the IRS desperately needs in order to be more efficient.

 Photo credit - house.gov

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