Both cybersecurity and customer service at the Internal Revenue Service have suffered because of Obamacare, the agency’s head said in remarks to Congress on Thursday.
“Congress, as I noted in my testimony, has underfunded … the Affordable Care Act,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told a panel of the House Appropriations Committee. “That does not remove the statutory mandate we have that we have to implement the act.”
Koskinen delivered his remarks in response to a question from Chairman Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., who pointed out that Congress had “increased funding specifically for taxpayer services” in 2014 and 2016.
Koskinen said it didn’t matter where Congress intended the money to go, explaining the agency had pulled funding for customer service and cybersecurity in order to ensure compliance with the ACA.
“As I said two years ago, at the continued level of underfunding, the things that were going to suffer were going to be enforcement, taxpayer service, and ultimately … information technology,” Koskinen said.
More than eight million phone calls to the agency’s customer service line went unanswered in the last filing season. Koskinen added that the agency hasn’t fully funded customer service for the last “three or four years,” and that about $900 million had been pulled from cybersecurity.
The agency has been hit with at least two successful cyberattacks in the past year. A cyberattack last year resulted in the theft of data on 330,000 taxpayers from the agency’s “Get Transcript” database, while an attack last week resulted in the loss of special personal identification numbers associated with 101,000.
President Obama’s budget proposal for fiscal 2017 would increase funding for the IRS from $10.9 billion in 2016 to $12.2 billion in 2017, an increase of about 12 percent.
What business could the Internal Revenue Service possibly have spying on Americans with fake cell phone towers? It seems like a ridiculous scenario, but a Freedom of Information Act document dump revealed that the IRS now possesses the technology to conduct dragnet spying operations on mobile devices.
Religions should not qualify for tax exemptions in any country for the simple reason that nowhere is it a function of government to adopt responsibility for how you choose to observe your religion.
Tax exemptions for charities are granted on the basis that these organisations do good in their communities, but religions are not charities, and much of what religions do does not count as “community good” unless you share that faith. Religion-themed homeless shelters and hospitals would, of course, still qualify for tax exemption under this logic.
Tax exemption is a subvention.
In civilized, democratic societies there is an intuitive understanding that the separation of church and state is necessary to build a society based on equal opportunities.
ENDNOTE: Bernie Sanders almost won Iowa, sure. But in addition to once cutting a record, he also played a rabbi in a B-movie. He gets two thumbs down and an oy veysmir.(Time)
(Abdallah, 12, and Dania, 10, whose school was bombed in the Syrian city of Aleppo, sit in a mock-up of a destroyed classroom outside the Houses of Parliament in London, on Tuesday. The photocall was organized by Save the Children to highlight the need for education for refugee children. Photo: Facundo Arrizabalaga, EPA via USA Today)
The Internal Revenue Service is the latest in a growing list of US federal agencies known to have possessed the sophisticated cellphone dragnet equipment known as Stingray, according to documents obtained by the Guardian.
Invoices obtained following a request under the Freedom of Information Act show purchases made in 2009 and 2012 by the federal tax agency with Harris Corporation, one of a number of companies that manufacture the devices. Privacy advocates said the revelation “shows the wide proliferation of this very invasive surveillance technology”.
The 2009 IRS/Harris Corp invoice is mostly redacted under section B(4) of the Freedom of Information Act, which is intended to protect trade secrets and privileged information. However, an invoice from 2012, which is also partially redacted, reports that the agency spent $65,652 on upgrading a Stingray II to a HailStorm, a more powerful version of the same device, as well as $6,000 on training from Harris Corporation.
Stingrays are the best-known example of a type of device called an IMSI-catcher, also known as “cell-site simulators”. About the size of a briefcase, they work by pretending to be cellphone towers in order to strip metadata and in some cases even content from phones which connect to them.
Despite their extensive capabilities, they require only a low-level court order called a PEN register, also known as a “trap and trace”, to grant permission for their use.
Immense secrecy has so far surrounded these devices, but a picture is slowly emerging which shows widespread use. Various revelations by the American Civil Liberties Unionand news outlets including the Guardian had shown that at least 12 federal agencies are already known to have these devices, including the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The IRS makes 13.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest provider of abortions. Through a giant web of legal technicalities, they receive taxpayer funding from the Federal government, itemizing virtually ever minute step in the abortion process as something other than abortion. But Planned Parenthood isn’t just a giant abortion mill—they’re also a muscle organization for the Democrat party, and some affiliates appear to be violating Federal law by using up to 95% of their financial expenditures to finance political activity and influence elections.
According to the form, Feminist Frequency’s revenue went from around
$18,000 in 2013, to over $400,000 in 2014, but despite this, there
don’t seem to have been many advancements in the organisation’s
structure or advocacy efforts.
Apart from the usual Tropes vs Women series, which aired
just two episodes in 2014, there have been no new services or programs
started by the charity in order to advance their goals, and the closest
thing to progress seems to have been a t-shirt store that launched last
month that currently features one design.
Abolish the IRS, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. A Cruz Administration will appoint heads of each of those agencies whose sole charge will be to wind them down and determine whether any programs need to be preserved.
Internal Revenue Services – end the political targeting, simplify the tax code, and abolish the IRS as we know it.
Department of Education – return education to those who know our students best: parents, teachers, local communities, and states. And block-grant education funding to the states.
Department of Energy – cut off the Washington Cartel, stop picking winners and losers, and unleash the energy renaissance.
Department of Commerce – close the “congressional cookie jar” and promote free-enterprise and free trade for every business.
Department of Housing and Urban Development – offer real solutions to lift people out of hardship, rather than trapping families in a cycle of poverty, and empower Americans by promoting the dignity of work and reforming programs such as Section 8 housing.
II. TWENTY-FIVE FEDERAL “ABCs”
Empower the people by reducing the alphabet soup of Agencies, Bureaus, Commissions, and other programs that prop up special interests, at the taxpayer’s expense. A Cruz Administration will identify all unnecessary programs – these 25 are merely a start:
Eliminate the following Agencies, Bureaus, Commissions, and programs:
Appalachian Regional Commission
Climate Ready Water Utilities Initiative
Climate Research Funding for the Office of Research and Development
Climate Resilience Evaluation Awareness Tool
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Corporation for Public Broadcasting
Corporation for Travel Promotion
Global Methane Initiative
Green Infrastructure Program
Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program
Legal Services Corporation
National Endowment for the Arts
National Endowment for the Humanities
New Starts Transit Program
Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund
Presidential Election Campaign Fund
Regulation of CO2 Emissions from Power Plants and all Sources
Regulation of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Vehicles
Re-institute President Reagan’s Grace Commission to assess federal spending levels and evaluate areas of waste and fraud.
Appoint private-sector leaders to serve on a commission that, as President Reagan described, will work like “blood hounds” to improve government efficiency.
Under Ronald Reagan’s Administration, the Grace Commission report recommended 2,478 “cost-cutting, revenue-enhancing” suggestions, without raising taxes, weakening defense, or harming social welfare.
As Chairman Grace recognized then, “every dollar we can stop spending is a dollar that the government does not need to borrow.” Never has that been more needed than today.
IV. CONGRESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY
Hold Congress accountable by enacting a strong Balanced Budget Amendment and requiring that a majority of members approve any major, cost-inducing regulation.
Sign a Balanced Budget Amendment to start spending responsibly and save future generations from additional crippling debt.
Sign the REINS Act to ensure that Congress approves of any regulation or rule that would have an impact of $100 million or more.
V. HIRING FREEZE AND REDUCTION
Reduce costs by instituting a hiring freeze and federal pay reforms.
Put in place a hiring freeze of federal civilian employees across the executive branch.
For those agencies in which it is determined that a vacant position needs to be filled, I will authorize the hiring of a maximum ratio of one person for every three who leave.
Reduce the annual across-the-board adjustment for federal civilian pay so that rather than receiving automatic yearly raises, federal workers would have more opportunities for merit-based pay increases.
ESTIMATED SAVINGS OF OVER $500,000,000,000 IN 10 YEARS
Oh my. It looks like Lois Lerner may have also been behind conservative targeting in Wisconsin
Remember those horrifying police raids in Wisconsin a while back? With no hyperbole, it was modern-day tyranny that should have incensed the entire nation, regardless of political affiliation or viewpoint. Instead, very few ever even heard about it. Why? Because progressives were the perpetrators and conservatives were the targets. The raids were part of a so-called “investigation” of conservatives who were supporting Scott Walker.
Well new email evidence suggests that Lois Lerner may have been in cahoots with a Wisconsin official regarding the investigation.
From the WSJ:
Wisconsin’s campaign to investigate conservative tax-exempt groups has always seemed like an echo of the IRS’s scrutiny of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status. It turns out that may be more than a coincidence.
Former IRS tax-exempt director Lois Lerner ran the agency’s policy on conservative groups. Kevin Kennedy runs the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board (GAB) that helped prosecutors with their secret John Doe investigation of conservative groups after the 2011 and 2012 recall elections of Governor Scott Walker and state senators.
Emails we’ve seen show that between 2011 and 2013 the two were in contact on multiple occasions, sharing articles on topics including greater donor disclosure and Wisconsin’s recall elections. The emails indicate the two were also personal friends who met for dinner and kept in professional touch. “Are you available for the 25th?” Ms. Lerner wrote in January 2012. “If so, perhaps we could work two nights in a row.”
This timing is significant because those were the years when the IRS increased its harassment of conservative groups and Wisconsin prosecutors gathered information that would lead to the John Doe probe that officially opened in September 2012. Ms. Lerner’s lawyer declined comment. Mr. Kennedy said via email that “Ms. Lerner is a professional friend who I have known for more than 20 years” but declined further comment.
Irwin Schiff, father of financial commentator and prognosticator Peter Schiff, died on Friday October 16th shackled to a hospital bed in intensive care. Schiff wrote the following concerning his father’s passing:
My father Irwin A. Schiff was born Feb. 23rd 1928, the 8th child and only son of Jewish immigrants, who had crossed the Atlantic twenty years earlier in search of freedom. As a result of their hope and courage my father was fortunate to have been born into the freest nation in the history of the world. But when he passed away on Oct. 16th, 2015 at the age of 87, a political prisoner of that same nation, legally blind and shackled to a hospital bed in a guarded room in intensive care, the free nation he was born into had itself died years earlier.
My father had a life-long love affair with our nation’s founding principals and proudly served his country during the Korean War, for a while even having the less then honorable distinction of being the lowest ranking American soldier in Europe. While in college he became exposed to the principles of Austrian economics through the writings of Henry Hazlitt and Frederick Hayek. He first became active in politics during Barry Goldwater’s failed 1964 presidential bid. His activism intensified during the Vietnam Era when he led local grass root efforts to resist Yale University’s plans to conduct aid shipments to North Vietnam at a time when that nation was actively fighting U.S. forces in the south. Later in life he staged an unsuccessful write in campaign for governor of Connecticut, then eventually lost the Libertarian Party’s presidential nomination to Harry Brown in 1996.
In 1976 his beliefs in free market economics, limited government, and strict interpretation of the Constitution led him to write his first book The Biggest Con: How the Government is Fleecing You, a blistering indictment of the post New Deal expansion of government in the United States. The book achieved accolades in the mainstream conservative world, receiving a stellar review in the Wall Street Journal, among other mainstream publications.
But my father was most known for his staunch opposition to the Federal Income Tax, for which the Federal Government labeled him a “tax protester.” But he had no objection to lawful, reasonable taxation. He was not an anarchist and believed that the state had an important, but limited role to play in market based economy. He opposed the Federal Government’s illegal and unconstitutional enforcement and collection of the income tax. His first book on this topic (he authored six books in total) How Anyone Can Stop Paying Income Taxes, published in 1982 became a New York Times best seller. His last, The Federal Mafia; How the Government Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully collects Income Taxes, the first of three editions published in 1992, became the only non-fiction, and second and last book to be banned in America. The only other book being Fanny Hill; Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, banned for obscenity in 1821 and 1963.
His crusade to force the government to obey the law earned him three prison sentences, the final one being a fourteen-year sentence that he began serving ten years ago, at the age of 77. That sentence turned into a life sentence, as my father failed to survive until his planned 2017 release date. However in actuality the life sentence amounted to a death sentence. My father died from skin cancer that went undiagnosed and untreated while he was in federal custody. The skin cancer then led to a virulent outbreak of lung cancer that took his life just more than two months after his initial diagnosis.
The unnecessarily cruel twist in his final years occurred seven years ago when he reached his 80th birthday. At that point the government moved him from an extremely low security federal prison camp in New York State where he was within easy driving distance from family and friends, to a federal correctional institute, first in Indiana and then in Texas. This was done specially to give him access to better medical care. The trade off was that my father was forced to live isolated from those who loved him. Given that visiting him required long flights, car rentals, and hotel stays, his visits were few and far between. Yet while at these supposed superior medical facilities, my father received virtually no medical care at all, not even for the cataracts that left him legally blind, until the skin cancer on his head had spread to just about every organ in his body.
At the time of his diagnosis in early August of this year, he was given four to six mouths to live. We tried to get him out of prison on compassionate release so that he could live out the final months of his life with his family, spending some precious moments with the grandchildren he had barely known. But he did not live long enough for the bureaucratic process to be completed. Two months after the process began, despite the combined help of a sitting Democratic U.S. congresswoman and a Republican U.S. senator, his petition was still sitting on someone’s desk waiting for yet another signature, even though everyone at the prison actually wanted him released. Even as my father lay dying in intensive care, a phone call came in from a lawyer and the Bureau of Prisons in Washington asking the prison medical representatives for more proof of the serious nature of my father’s condition.
As the cancer consumed him his voice changed, and the prison phone system no longer recognized it, so he could not even talk with family members on the phone during his finale month of life. When his condition deteriorated to the point where he needed to be hospitalized, government employees blindly following orders kept him shackled to his bed. This despite the fact that escape was impossible for an 87 year old terminally ill, legally blind patient who could barley breathe, let alone walk.
Whether or not you agree with my father’s views on the Federal Income Tax, or the manner by which it is collected, it’s hard to condone the way he was treated by our government. He held his convictions so sincerely and so passionately that he continued to espouse them until his dying breath. Like William Wallace in the final scene of Braveheart, an oppressive government may have succeeded in killing him, but they did not break his spirit. And that spirit will live on in his books, his videos, and in his children and grandchildren. Hopefully his legacy will one day help restore the lost freedoms he died trying to protect, finally allowing him to rest in peace.
The IRS is an impressively efficient governmental agency. For every $100 that the IRS collects, it spends only 38 cents. That is a very economic ratio of cost and profit that amounts to very cost-effective governance. Which is probably why Republicans hate the IRS so much: it proves that the government is not as incompetent or wasteful as they claim.
In February 2012, two government agents came to Randy’s farm. The IRS, they told him, had seized the farm’s entire bank account, containing more than $60,000. When Randy sold milk at farmer’s markets, customers often paid him in cash, and he and his wife, Karen, deposited those cash payments in the account. The government seized the account because the Sowers deposited the cash in amounts under $10,000.
This doesn’t look like any kind of a campaign stunt to me. It’s too much political wonkiness for the average voter to even care. This looks like Rand Paul is sick and tired of Obama’s lawless end-runs around Congress, and he’s finally decided to do something about it.
from Washington Times:
Rand Paul is poised to become the first major presidential candidate in memory to sue the government he seeks to lead as president.
The Kentucky senator will take legal action against the U.S. Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service for what he says is the denial of his constitutional right to vote on more than 100 tax-information treaties that the Obama administration unilaterally negotiated with foreign governments, The Washington Times has learned.
In what the suit says is a violation of Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution, President Obama has not consulted the U.S. Senate about the treaties nor given the Senate an opportunity to approve or disapprove of the treaties. The administration calls them “intergovernmental agreements.” They require foreign banks to gather and share private financial information about millions of Americans living and working outside the U.S. — information they would not have to disclose to the U.S. government if they lived and worked in the U.S.
The treaties or agreements are the enforcement mechanisms of the Obama administration’s Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), enacted by a Democratic-controlled Congress in 2010.
The act is despised by many of the estimated 8.7 million Americans living overseas, a record number of whom have — with great anger and reluctance, according to those who have spoken to the foreign and U.S. press — renounced their U.S. citizenship rather than attempt to comply with FATCA.
What percentage of them simply want to evade paying taxes to the U.S. government and to the foreign governments in whose countries they work and/or reside is unknown. The U.S. is one of the few countries that taxes its citizens on income earned and property held both at home and abroad.
President Obama pushed for the passage of FATCA as a means of capturing hundreds of millions of dollars in income and property taxes owed to the Treasury by those Americans living and working outside the U.S. But many Americans living abroad say the Treasury and the IRS are treating them as guilty of tax evasion until proven innocent.