No proof of targeting?

PBS“The IRS has strong protections in place to ensure that exempt organizations are selected for audit only for the purpose of enforcing the federal tax laws with fairness and integrity,” the IRS said in a statement. “No internal or external review conducted to date has found any indication that an exempt organization has been improperly selected for audit.”

Let's consider what that lack of proof consists of.

PBSIn 2014, the IRS completed a little more than 8,000 audits of tax-exempt groups... Others groups were selected as part of compliance projects in which the IRS studied types of groups or activities that might be at risk for tax evasion. More than 1,600 were selected based on referrals or complaints from the public, IRS employees and other government agencies.

We know that Lerner ran one of those "compliance projects" as part of her targeting activities. That was why she claimed to be asking so many intrusive questions about the tax-exempt organizations on her targeting list; she was trying to develop information she could use to understand how they operated in order to prosecute them. And, of the 1600 selected based on referrals, we know from reading the rest of the GAO report that about 25% of those referrals did not keep any record of the referral itself, meaning that they could have been referred for political targeting reasons and we would have no way of knowing that was the case. And, in fact, we know that that was the case in at least one situation (see the ZStreet lawsuit, where they were audited based on having political opinions different from the administration's political goals).

Oh, and what happens to those referral cases?

PBSThe referrals go to specialists, who either recommend an audit or dismiss them. Referrals that deal with political activities, churches or high-profile organizations that have attracted media attention are also reviewed by three-person panels.

IRS procedures are designed to prevent individual employees from unfairly selecting groups for an audit, based on inappropriate criteria. However, the GAO report found: “Staff are not required to obtain executive management approval to deviate from these procedures.”

Also, supervisors don’t always document whether they have approved audits, or decisions to cancel audits, the report said.

In other words, we have no idea. Individuals at the IRS can change the rules willy-nilly, don't need to document that they did so, don't need approval from their supervisors, and if they choose to get that approval, the supervisors don't need to document whether they approved or denied a request or why they approved or denied it.

And let's not forget that we got to this utter lack of evidence of targeting by following a trail of admissions, apologies, 5th-amendment pleas, and destroyed hard drives.

The only lesson the IRS has learned from this is that they can't be punished if they destroy the evidence.

This entry was published Tue Jul 28 09:03:45 CDT 2015 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2015-07-28 09:03:45.0. [Tweet]

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