By Steve Boggs
There’s a reason so many people are upset about the latest Internal Revenue Service scandal, and it’s not because some agents targeted conservative groups. It’s because they targeted anybody.
The IRS isn’t supposed to be take sides. Its agents aren’t supposed to care whom you voted for, or how you stand on the issues. Their only reason to exist is to make sure you pay your taxes, and follow federal and state tax codes. Period, end of story.
So since a field office in Cincinnati admitted some of its agents were targeting Tea Party and other conservative groups with reviews, audits and the likes, the country has gone a little berserk. Rightfully so.
We tend to think of the IRS in the same way we do law enforcement. We want our federal law enforcement people to act like Tommy Lee Jones in The Fugitive – a one-track mind, driven to accomplish a singular task. We all have a stereotypical image of an IRS agent in our head. You know the type: Stuffy, immune to persuasion, completely lacking any sense of humor. We fear and loathe the IRS in one breath, and cheer them on when they bust tax cheaters in the next.
The IRS is the revenue arm of our government. Congress passes laws, the president signs them, and the Supreme Court makes sure they’re constitutional. If it’s a tax law, someone has to enforce it, and collect the cash.
As taxpayers, we take out most of our frustrations on the IRS, when in reality they should be reserved for the people we elect. Our 72,536-page tax code didn’t write itself. Does the IRS make mistakes? Absolutely! A quick Internet search will provide you with tons of reading material, about how the IRS seized some poor old lady’s home because she didn’t pay $1.25 in taxes on her sewing circle income. That’s been going on for years. In fact, a few years ago Congress decided the IRS was out of control and de-fanged the agency. The threshold for an audit was raised, and the agency was basically told to be nicer to taxpayers.
There’s no doubt in this mind that most Tea Party groups probably should be audited. So should most liberal-minded groups. There’s so much cash in politics these days, the IRS should be camped on the doorstep of every political organization in America 24/7.
The scary part is that the political leanings of some in the IRS influenced agency actions. Targeting is a big word when you put the initials IRS with it, and the thought of government coming after its citizens based on political theory alone is frightening.
Imagine what would happen if the Secret Service protected one president better than the next, because of political preference. What’s next, the Corps of Engineers building better dams in blue states than it does in red states? Where does it end?
There are some places politics don’t belong, and the IRS is one of them.
The majority of IRS agents (or at least the ones I’ve met over the years), are honest, no-nonsense people. They do their jobs, and could not care less who you are. They only care that you pay your taxes, based on current tax law. They fit the stereotype, and somehow that’s sort of comforting … at least to this taxpayer. It’s hard to imagine the entire agency taking part in political hijinks, but clearly those who do need to be kicked to the curb.
The big question moving forward is this: Is there enough honest government left to right this ship? Does Cincinnati’s admission put these types of shenanigans on the table permanently? If so, then another pillar of our society just joined the political pendulum.
And pillars aren’t supposed to sway.
Steve Boggs is pubisher of The Saline Courier. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .View more articles in: