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Dan Liljenquist: IRS scandal is an assault on our basic freedoms

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  • T. Party Pleasant Grove, UT
    May 23, 2013 6:02 a.m.

    The Determinations Unit in Cincinnati was advised closely by the Technical Unit in Washington, D.C. This is not a matter of one or two agents going rogue. It was a program overseen from Washington. Big Government out of control.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 23, 2013 6:15 a.m.

    Dan, I will agree with you.... and disagree with you. Completely agreed that tax code and its enforcement should never be used as a political tool by either party. Never. Plain and simple. No debate.

    But I will disagree with you that this comes close to the lever of restriction of conscience or freedom that you make it out to be. There is no claim here that anyone was denied. And in fact, this type of behavior happens every day. Last year I got my first speeding ticket in over a decade (and yes, congratulations to all of you who never have had one). The officer was polite, even nice, recommending a place where we could get breakfast as we continued down the road.

    But that isn't the experience of many. If you look at the data, the amount of time a car is held roadside for processing a traffic violation has a high corollary to the ethnicity of the driver. A non white driver is far more likely to spend less quality time roadside. This too is a distortions of ones "freedoms". And yet, there is no outcry... it just what it is.

  • truthseeker55 corpus christi, TX
    May 23, 2013 6:46 a.m.

    Our tax code is needlessly complex... making even the most financially savvy uncertain when they file their taxes. At one time I worked in the tax department of a CPA firm and each day there was a stack of bulletins to wade through.

    The Lord chose a system of finance quite simple that is very effective...

  • Ajax Mapleton, UT
    May 23, 2013 7:27 a.m.

    Well Dan, there you go again:

    "...the IRS harassed and intimidated groups based on their political leanings...."

    The IRS "...began subjecting applications ... from conservative groups to enhanced scrutiny...while applications from liberal leaning groups sailed through the approval process."

    "Lerner instructed her staff to be on the lookout for applications from groups that would oppose President Obama or agitate for smaller government... Lerner's behavior was clearly biased by her own political beliefs."

    Ultra-conservatives are prone to allow the fervor of their convictions to shape their arguments in falsely exaggerated ways in behalf of beliefs founded more on ideology than on fact. While nothing could seem more true than these arguments and beliefs to the ideologically minded, others of a more pragmatic view can only feel incredulous and baffled.

    History bears out that when the far right rules, there is a stiff price to pay in personal liberty.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 23, 2013 7:32 a.m.

    @truthseeker55.... I will agree with you completely. I simple plan is a transparent plan, where everyone knows no one is getting special treatment, or benefiting from back room deals that gives them preferential treatment. When we know we all are living under the same rules, it only breeds trust. And that is something we could use a ton more of now days.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    May 23, 2013 7:44 a.m.

    What is most corruptible about all these scandals is that so many Americans on left are so willing to deny them, excuse them or ignore them just to protect their ideological soul mates. Exactly how dictatorships are born; ideology over morality!

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    May 23, 2013 7:46 a.m.

    This article is so full of misstatements. First of all the tax code is very complicated but not for the ordinary wage earning citizen. The tax code is complicated on purpose for the wealthy and for corporations. Secondly liberal groups did not just sail through the process. There were at least two dozen liberal groups who came under the same process as the tea party groups. Thirdly Lerner did not instruct her subordinates to target anti government or tea party groups. She in fact tried twice to stop the process. Fourthly the best investigative reporters in the country still haven't been able to uncover who in fact did begin the process. That doesn't speak well for the administrative controls of the IRS but it also doesn't make guilty those further up the administrative chain. The IRS is probably an administrative nightmare so fix it and quit trying to find boogey men under the bed, because to the rational they aren't there.

  • HS Fan Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 7:50 a.m.

    The biggest mistake is that the IRS wasn't targeting left leaning groups just as much. Neither side should be allowed tax free status. These are political organizations, not chartiable groups.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    May 23, 2013 8:08 a.m.

    What if the IRS targeted the 47% who don't pay any federal income taxes, the vast majority of whom consistently vote for Democrats; the largest left wing tax free organization in the world! Liberals love to whine about the TEA Party but don't you dare touch THEIR tax free "sacred cows"; unions, Planned Parenthood, the Green Party, The Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Media Matters, Move On etc., etc. This is nothing more than a huge serving of liberal hypocrisy perpetrated right out of the highest offices in the land. And they claim the 5th amendment when asked to account for their actions?

  • The Taxman Los Angeles, CA
    May 23, 2013 8:31 a.m.

    Another campaign speech by Liljenquist. And just like the others this one is poorly reasoned and inaccurate.. For example, the statement, "The recent revelation that the IRS harassed and intimidated groups based on their political leanings is the worst kind of scandal" is false. My clients have had many IRS audits, and they are all extremely intrusive no matter the race, gender, political party, etc., of the client. That is what the IRS does. The IRS also goes after the "lowest hanging fruit" possible, and what could could be lower-hanging when trying to select groups with political activity than the name "Tea Party"? I suspect that when the instigations are over and politicians like Liljenquist have squeezed as much political gain as possible from this episode, it will be found that the IRS was just doing their usual job in their usual draconian manner.

  • Makid Kearns, UT
    May 23, 2013 8:38 a.m.

    Mountainman,

    The problem with your 47% number is that it isn't mostly Democrats, it is a cross section from both parties.

    However, while it is a cross section, there are more rich Republicans in the 47% than rich democrats. The lower income ratios are nearly identical.

    The thing that people need to ask is how many people complaining about the 47% not paying federal taxes are married, own a home and have more than 3 children that they are able to claim.

    The numbers show that based on the above situation, your household would need to bring in approximately between $50,000 and $60,000 a year to fall into the tax paying households due to all of the tax deductions that are available.

    With the median household income in Utah at $57,000 yearly, there are a lot of people in Utah that fall into the 47% and if Utah is majority Republican, that means in Utah, the majority of the 47% are Republicans.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    May 23, 2013 8:42 a.m.

    There's a very simple answer for groups who don't want to be scrutinized by the IRS on whether they're truly an organization for the "common good" and not for political purposes (which is the law the IRS was trying to apply): don't apply for tax exempt status!

    Given all the hysteria we hear from the right wingers about the deficit and debt, why don't you show your patriotism for the country by pitching in money that will be taxed and help reduce the deficit?

    Or is it more important to not pay taxes, stridently push political agendas, and then bawl in fluent Babylonian that the nation is going down the tubes because of the deficit?

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    May 23, 2013 9:03 a.m.

    truthseeker55
    corpus christi, TX
    Our tax code is needlessly complex... making even the most financially savvy uncertain when they file their taxes.

    The Lord chose a system of finance quite simple that is very effective...

    6:46 a.m. May 23, 2013

    =============

    Yes, but it's the uber-rich 1% who want to keep it that way.

    Why?

    Look no further than Mitt Romney.
    He didn't even hit the 10% tax rate so admired.
    And he's building yet ANOTHER house here in Utah.

    While the rest of us working stiffs struggle and bleed week to week to pay our 17% tax rate just to keep the ONE roof over our heads!

    The IRS is complex - no doubt.
    But don't expect CPAs, HR Block or TurboTax to run to your rescue.
    They will do everything in their lobbying power to keep themselves painfully employed.

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    May 23, 2013 9:03 a.m.

    Yawn.

    Nothing to see here folks.

    It's just another Dan liljenquist pep rally! He doesn't add anything here. He's just trying to keep his name in the paper and rally his base in hopes of taking Hatch's place in 6 years.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 23, 2013 9:07 a.m.

    I think the IRS Director has hit on the perfect solution to the made up republican scandals which have no purpose other than destroying the effectiveness of our government.

    In every case, in every republican inquiry, simply take the Fifth.

    President Obama and his team should stop letting the party of no distract them and get on with the business of representing the people of American.

    We need and want real reform for medical care. Get rid of medical insurance companies; get business out of the personal business of their employees.

    We need and want real tax reform that would support our governments by a flat tax on personal income of every type, from every source and without exception or deductions.

    We need and want real reform for our economic system to bring it up to date for today’s world conditions. Business operations must be made to support all of our people either by wages or government taxes.

    We need and want real reform for our voting procedures and tasks to remove political control, encumbrances, be perfectly accurate and EASY.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    May 23, 2013 9:10 a.m.

    @ Makid. 51% of the popular vote went to Barack Obama, which is about 62,262,675 votes. 48% of the popular vote went to Mitt Romney, which is about 58,894,887 votes. Now here is what is funny, Mitt Romney made some comments about 47% of Americans, and Romney happen to get 48% of the popular vote. So 121,157,562 cast a vote for either Obama or Romney, and of those, 48% went to Romney. So did the 47% vote for Romney and Romney received 1% of the vote from the 53% of Americans that do pay an income tax? If you do the math it is obvious who the 47% votes for!

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    May 23, 2013 9:37 a.m.

    Mountainman:

    So, what you're saying is all the people in the US military and all the retired people in Utah and Idaho (and everywhere else) voted for Obama?

    Supreme Court Justices Thomas, Scalia, Alito are all "takers" as well, in addition to all the Republicans in Congress, Orrin Hatch, Chaffetz, Ted Cruz, even the hardcore Libertarian Rand Paul, and Ayn Rand devotee Paul Ryan.

    You have more intelligence and insight than anyone else in the nation, it seems to me. Please expand on this knowledge for the rest of us, if you would.

  • Hemlock Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 9:50 a.m.

    In the face of admitted IRS bias, the left is scrambling to defend their own. Those investigating the IRS need to bring sunlight on the issues, irrespective of political leanings. Hiding behind the 5th is not the way to uncover the facts. AJAX has inverted the facts and blames the far right. Thanks for bringing some humor into a serious issue, but it's like blaming the far left for Watergate.

  • 4601 Salt Lake City, UT
    May 23, 2013 10:01 a.m.

    Dan, those who criticize your editorial haven't read the NYT editorial that completely stone walls the investigation. The radical left as represented by the NYT is fumbling for a defense of liberal intrusions in personal freedom. The administration's failure to explain why they allow spying on journalists, the cover up of decisions in Benghazi and honestly investigating the IRS are all symptoms of the same aliment, abuse of power. Bush's unacceptable imperial presidency seems increasingly tame by comparison.

  • louie Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 23, 2013 10:59 a.m.

    To me the biggest scandal with the IRS is that I (a middle class type) pay a higher tax rate than friend Rommney and probably more and million or so other rich people. Why do we allow that?

  • The Taxman Los Angeles, CA
    May 23, 2013 11:23 a.m.

    You "armchair quarterbacks" who do not regularly deal with the IRS can screech all you want, but you are speaking out of school. As I said before, the IRS is no respecter of persons (abusing all without premeditation). In the end, this will not be found to be political, but will simply be a case of laziness (going after the most visible abusers of the 503(c)(4) rules) on the part of the IRS.

  • Makid Kearns, UT
    May 23, 2013 11:27 a.m.

    I think an investigation needs to be done into the Republicans in Congress that knew about this issue last July.

    Why didn't they bring it out until now? Why hold on to it?

    The White House found out about this in April of 2013, Republican's in Congress found out July 12, 2012. The fact that they knew about it 9 months before the White House says a lot about the fact that this is more about politics than it is about the IRS investigations.

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 23, 2013 12:44 p.m.

    Will Obama use the IRS to rule America?

  • Owen Heber City, UT
    May 23, 2013 1:22 p.m.

    If you don't want the traffic cop to look your way, maybe don't get a license plate that says LUV2SPEED.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 23, 2013 2:41 p.m.

    Mountainman.... nice math.... now lets overlay that with where wealth is in the states. Where are the highest per capita earners at.... Utah? Idaho? Or Maybe California and the North East?

    You assumption is that the 47% - all poor hand out living off the government no job people - all voted for Obama - right? And that the hard working, paying all the bills types, voted for Romney.

    Here is a little wrinkle in your plan. Are you aware that a higher percentage of Utahan's are on federal assistance than are in states like California... you know that state of liberal non working people...

    The honest truth is poverty does not follow political lines. Neither does wealth. I know in your world, everyone is one way (patriotic wealthy capitalist) or another way (socialist free loaders who just want to redistribute wealth), but the real world isn't dividend so nicely. Conservative mormons are on federal assistance as much as their peers from other states.

    The math just doesn't add up...

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    May 23, 2013 2:50 p.m.

    "Will Obama use the IRS to rule America?"

    Yes... and then the Youth Corp you all were worried around will start taking control of the cities... and the military will declare martial law..... the diabolical plan to make him dictator of American will start coming true. You all figured it out already....

    Lets see... the IRS slowed down some applications.... even made it a little hard to get approved.... but no one was denied anything. It is a very tricky plan... very stealth in its power grab. Sounds like the permitting people in my city... trying to get a building permit.

    It is all a conspiracy I tell you.....

  • patriot vet Cedar City, UT
    May 23, 2013 3:50 p.m.

    The IRS may be the most hated agency in the Federal government. But, it is hated for all the wrong reasons.

    The IRS implements the tax law and collects the taxes necessary to run America. That includes defending us, providing free education, highways, protective inspections of all sorts (food, drugs, bridges, vehicles, etc.), protecting and manageing our public lands, and providing the leagal system that guarantees our Constitutional rights.

    These services are essential and demanded by all of us. Those that fight or complain about taxes are hypocritical. They should take a trip to Mexico or Indonesia to see how we would live without our Federal Government and taxes.

    God bless America. And may He sustain our Constitutional government against all enemies, domestic and foreign.

  • Hutterite American Fork, UT
    May 23, 2013 4:02 p.m.

    Is it really an 'assault on our basic freedoms' or is it at least partly a result of a huge number of outfits coming out of the woodwork to seek tax free status after the citizens united decision?

  • Steve Cottrell Centerville, UT
    May 23, 2013 4:57 p.m.

    The previous comments all seem to ignore the fact that the IRS action was related to applications for tax exempt status. Why should any political organization even be applying for tax exempt status?

  • worf Mcallen, TX
    May 23, 2013 7:08 p.m.

    patriot vet:

    You make the IRS look so patriotic, and good.

    People in Mexico, and Indonesia don't have the highways, schools, foods, drugs,etc, because of corrupt IRS type of governments.

    Take our seventeen trillion dollar debt, and you'll find we are poorer then they are. Someday the plug will be pulled, and our government dependent people will be in a state of shock.

    Through out history, most human suffering has come from corrupt governments, and we're almost there. I doubt you'll be praising the IRS in a few years.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    May 23, 2013 10:01 p.m.

    501 (c) (4)s are:

    "Civic leagues or organizations not organized for profit but operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare, or local associations of employees...the net earnings of which are devoted exclusively to charitable, educational or recreational purposes."
    - Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(4)

    A 501(c)(4) organization, once created can begin operating as a tax-exempt organization right away. You do not have to wait for official recognition of your exempt status from the IRS before you can get to work. You must complete Step 3 (Application for
    Exemption) within 27 months of formation in order to ensure a letter of exemption that dates back to the formation of the organization. Applications for exemption that are filed later than 27 months from formation will generally receive a letter dating back to the postmark date of the application.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    May 23, 2013 10:09 p.m.

    What are the issues raised in the recent Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (“TIGTA”) report?

    8. What cases were centralized?

    The report reflects that 300 cases were centralized. Approximately 70 of those cases included the name Tea Party. The remaining cases included organizations of all political views. The current number of centralized cases is approximately 470.

    11. Were centralized cases worked differently depending on which selection criteria was used?

    No, centralized cases were not worked differently depending on which selection criteria was used.

    12. Did mistakes occur in working the centralized cases?

    Yes. Applicants whose cases were centralized unfortunately experienced inappropriate delays and over-expansive information requests in some cases. This was caused by ineffective processes and not related to the selection criteria used for the centralization of a case.

    13. Is there any evidence of political bias in selecting cases for centralization or in working those cases?

    The TIGTA report included no findings of political bias. In addition, the IRS has found no indication of political bias.

    (Source:IRS)

  • cavetroll SANDY, UT
    May 27, 2013 4:29 a.m.

    Actually, what I find laughable about this article is Danny Boy contending "Of all the principles upon which we built this country, none is more important than equal protection under the law." What he really meant was "...equal protection under the law for those who share my beliefs."