Home > administrative law, bureaucracy, IRS > The IRS Scandal— Picking on the Little Guys

The IRS Scandal— Picking on the Little Guys

This isn’t the typical tax case, where a lawyer is helpful so the client can avoid breaking the law, or the somewhat rarer one where the lawyer helps the client fix a mess after the client accidentally breaks the law, or the even rarer kind where the lawyer helps the client after client purposely breaks the law. This is a case where a lawyer is helpful so the IRS doesn’t think *it* can get away with breaking the law.

The inspector general report noted that the delays were so long for many groups that there’s a statute authorizing them to sue— but none of them did. I bet none of them had lawyers.

One of the dirtiest things about this affair is that the IRS didn’t make any problems for the giant 501-c-4 political groups that we really worry about—the ones with secret millionaire donors. They didn’t go after the Democrat ones, and they didn’t even go after the Republican ones, like Karl Rove’s. They picked on the grassroots tea party organizations, knowing that though they couldn’t get away with denying the applications, because then they might hire lawyers, they could get away with harassing and delaying them, creating large costs for them with small effort by the IRS.

It is perhaps unfair to say “IRS”, since as far as we know most of it isn’t politicized yet. But the Commissioner and the General Counsel deserve blame for intentional lack of supervision at the very least, and most likely for appointing, instructing, and rewarding people like Lois Lerner.

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