Congress Should Stop Blaming the IRS for Its Own Failings
On December 1, 2016, Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) gave a speech at the Heritage Foundation about reforming the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Rep. Brady, whom I have never met but I presume is an affable fellow and dedicated public servant, is the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. His position of responsibility requires him to get his facts right and deal with tax reform and the IRS in a sober manner devoid of false negative stereotypes and sounds bites. He made three inaccurate statements worth correcting. Let’s take them one by one.
What Brady Got Wrong
1. The IRS is a huge agency.
False: According to the 2015 IRS Data Book, the IRS is smaller now than when Ronald Reagan took office.
2. The IRS is targeting people for their political beliefs.
I presume Rep. Brady is referring to the 2012 Tea Party debacle when Lois Lerner — a Federal Elections Commission hack who transferred to the IRS to run the Exempt Organizations Unit — used her position, under the supervision of a Republican appointed IRS Commissioner, to delay the approval of Tea Party applications, apparently because she had an ax to grind with the Citizens United decision and conservative groups.
That is true, but it’s false to claim that the IRS as a whole targets people for political reasons. An exhaustive investigation by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), led by Inspector General J. Russell George (another Republican appointee) concluded that there was no systemic political targeting. A follow up investigation determined that the IRS had taken corrective action and implemented most of the suggestions from the prior report.
In plain English, that means IRS had cleaned house and taken care of business since the Lerner debacle.
3. Reorganizing the IRS would improve customer service.
False: The problem is that the Brainiacs in Congress have cut the IRS budget 17 percent since 2010. That means that there are fewer people to answer the phone so taxpayers who call the IRS with a basic question better bring a book or a rosary because they will have some time to kill. Reorganizing the IRS at this point is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. I’m just glad Congress doesn’t control the funding for Suicide Prevention hotlines.
Why You Should Care
Why should you care about Rep. Brady’s inaccurate statements about the IRS? Here’s why. Congress loves to blame the IRS for their own shortcomings. It’s kind of like when an alcoholic parent blames his drinking habit on his kids (Note to my homeschooled kids: It really is your fault).
Congress can’t solve the national debt problem until they admit that they have a spending and revenue collection problem.
In reality, Congress can’t solve the national debt problem until they admit that they have a spending and revenue collection problem. Congress has fiscally abused the IRS for over the last half decade. Its has denied the IRS tools necessary to answer their constituent’s questions and investigate the human traffickers, drug dealers, and identity thieves that cheat on their taxes and freeload on public services such as food stamps and public housing. I once testified at the trial of a non-filing pimp who owned two luxury vehicles and at the same time owed thousands in back child support for his two kids.
Rep. Brady, as well as all congressional leaders, should base their reform proposals (and we desperately need tax reform) on cold hard facts and solid fiscal policy. The American taxpayers deserve nothing less.
(P.S. In case you were wondering, the pimp was convicted and sentenced to over 30 years in jail for human trafficking.)