Archive for the ‘IRS’ Category

Ah, to be a Federal employee …

July 8, 2014

Interesting piece in the NY Post titled “Federal worker gravy train” … 

It’s not new news, but the Post points out that firing a federal worker is almost impossible, and making a termination stick, is even less likely.

Data published in the Federal Times supports the Post’s claim. (and common wisdom)

Federal Firings
Source

Think about it: 1 in about 200 get culled each year.

Hardly Jack Welch’s “bottom 10%” program.

More generally, data from the Office of Personnel Management indicate that it is five times as hard to get fired from a federal job as from a private-sector one.

It’s commonly claimed that federal workers settle for lower pay in exchange for job ­security.

The Post says: Don’t believe it.

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The Lerner emails: Interesting twist …

June 30, 2014

 

First, some background on a group called Judicial Watch …Judicial Watch is a non-partisan conservative organization whose motto is “Because no one is above the law”.

To achieve this goal,” Judicial Watch uses the open records or freedom of information laws and other tools to investigate and uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities.” Source

For example, when the White House was claiming (a) that it had no involvement in the development of Susan Rice’s infamous “it was the video’s fault, not terrorists” talking points, and (b) that all emails had been turned over to Congressional committees … it was Judicial Watch that worked the courts using the Freedom of Information Act to get a copy of the smoking gun emails that put tied the talking to Ben Rhodes – the White House Deputy Strategic Communications Adviser at the time. Source

Somehow, Judicial Watch’s courts actions seem to get better access to sensitive government info than the Congressional Committees.

Go figure.

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Well, now Judicial Watch is targeting Lois Lerner’s missing emails … (pun intended)

Here’s the scoop …

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Stop right there, professor … proof of citizenship, please !

June 25, 2014

Unfortunately, this has become an annual event.  A summer initiation of sorts.

Once again, I was detained for questioning by government officials.

This year was unusually unnerving.

No, it wasn’t by rogue IRS agents in Cincinnati targeting an alleged conservative blogger.

 

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I was suspected of crossing a border to illegally access government-provided services.

Here’s the story …

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What are the odds of 7 specific IRS hard drives crashing?

June 24, 2014

Here’s why I think there’s a cover-up happening in the IRS targeting scandal …

Lois Lerner is at the heart of the investigation.  She exercised her 5th amendment right to not self-incriminate and didn’t testify to Congress.

Then, it’s “discovered” that 10 days after the scandal inquiry kicked off, her PC hard drive – which contained the only permanent copies of emails she sent to folks outside the IRS – crashed … and all data – including the subpoenaed emails – was lost forever.

Hmmm.

 

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Then it was revealed that the hard drives of 6 other IRS “persons of interest” had also crashed (after the investigation was kicked off.

Double hmmm.

Got me to wondering: What are the odds of that happening?

Let’s do some arithmetic …

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My View: IRS targeting Lerner emails, next steps

June 23, 2014

Some semi-random thoughts on the IRS fiasco…

First, I don’t think any reasonable person can deny that persons within the IRS targeted conservative groups for harassment during the run-up to the 2012 Presidential election.

One interesting aspect is that the IRS actions had nothing to do with REVENUE since the organizations don’t operate for a profit. The organizations spend everything that they take in – i.e. expenses consume revenues, so profits are zero and there are no taxes to collect.

So, it’s reasonable to conclude that the harassment was done simply for political reasons, right?

 

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That’s the why, what about the “who”?

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Laughs: Leno smacks “Snoop Dog Obama” … very funny.

June 9, 2013

When you’ve lost Leno, well …

Great Leno monologue on the phone flap and IRS …. transcript is below or click to watch the video (recommended).

Favorite line: “if Obama wants to put this snooping thing to good use, how about spying on the IRS.”

 

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Click to watch the video (recommended).

JAY LENO:

Well, let’s see what’s going on. Hey, Snoop is back in the news. Not Snoop Dogg, Snoop Obama. Yeah, Snoop Obama. A big change at the White House today. They closed the gift shop and opened a Verizon store. Yeah.

Well, this has become a huge controversy after it was revealed that the National Security Agency seized millions of Verizon phone records, and of course this has caused a panic among civil libertarians, constitutional scholars and cheating husbands everywhere. Oh my God.

How ironic is that? We wanted a president that listens to all Americans – now we have one. Yeah.

Actually, President Obama clarified the situation today. He said no one is listening to your phone calls. The president said it’s not what the program is all about. You know, like the IRS isn’t about targeting certain political groups. That’s not what it’s about!

I mean what’s going on? The White House has looked into our phone records, checking our computers, monitoring our e-mails. When did the government suddenly become our psycho ex-girlfriend? When did that happen? When did that happen? When did that happen?

You know, I’ll tell you, if Obama wants to put this snooping thing to good use, how about spying on the IRS next time they throw a $4 million party. Why don’t you do that one? Yes, exactly, exactly. Find out about that. Yeah.

 

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IRS: Approval ratings are up …

June 6, 2013

According to the most recent NBC/WSJ Survey

Half of the people surveyed had a somewhat or very negative view of the IRS.

That means that about half didn’t have a negative view of the IRS despite the scandals.

Probably a coincidence that 47% don’t pay Federal income taxes …

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More interesting point …

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IRS: The 501(c)4 advantage … it’s not about taxes.

June 3, 2013

Last week, we raised a couple of points re: the IRS – Tea Party flap.

First, we pointed out that organizations don’t need to seek IRS approval to operate as  a 501(c)4 … they can just do it.

Someday they might get the 501(c)4 status audited and  revoked, but since Tea Parties spend the money that they raise on their activities, there shouldn’t be any income to tax.

And, donations to a 5042(c)4 are not tax deductible.

If there isn’t a tax advantage to either the organization or it’s donors, why did the conservative organizations go through thee agony of applying?

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The answer is simple … and, not surprisingly, upended by the IRS targeting …

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Is John Hancock rolling over in his grave?

May 30, 2013

You remember John Hancock, right?

He is memorialized for his large and stylish signature on the United States Declaration of Independence … so much so that the term “John Hancock” became, in the United States, a synonym for “signature”.

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According to Wikipedia – the people’s encyclopedia –…

The traditional function of a signature is evidential of:

  1. The provenance of the document (identity)
  2. The intention (will) of an individual with regard to that document

For example, you signed your 1040 tax return – either physically or digitally, right?

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Did you read the fine print?

Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this return and accompanying schedules and statements, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, they are true, correct, and complete.

Hmmm.

Do the same requirements and penalties apply to Federal officials?

Here are some head-scratching examples to the contrary …

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IRS: Why did the Tea Parties even apply for 501(c)4 status?

May 30, 2013

Many aspects of the IRS – Tea Parties bruhaha have me head scratching.

Clearly, the IRS was targeting conservative groups.  That’s a no-brainer.

But, I ask, why did the groups apply for 501(c)4 status in the first place?

Reading the IRS regs and a letter from the IRS to Senator Hatch, organizations can “self-declare” to be 501(c)4.

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Source: Original letter

Here’s why this has me head-scratching …

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IRS: Why no mention of the NTEU connection?

May 24, 2013

Did you know that the “frontline” IRS employees involved in the IRS scandal are unionized?

Yep.

Members of NTEU – the National Treasury Employees Union.

So what?

First, like most government employee unions, the NTEU is all for bigger government and fatter retirement benefits.

So, it’s no big surprise that the union endorsed Obama for President.

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Nothing shady there … strictly legal … and consistent with the employees’ interests.

But, here’s where things get interesting …

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Flashback: What happens when a tax-evader runs the IRS?

May 22, 2013

I’m a bit surprised that this retro-snit hasn’t come up in the current IRS flap …

Think back to early, 2009.

Newly annointed President Obama nominated Tim Geithner to be Secretary of the Treasury.

During his confirmation hearings, Geithner ran into an “issue”.

It was revealed that Mr. Geithner, he failed to pay payroll taxes on income he received from the International Monetary Fund in 2001, and then repeated the error in the three subsequent years, despite explicit disclosures and instructions from the IMF, and with the help of an accountant.

According to the WSJ:

Apologizing to the committee, Geithner took responsibility for what he called “careless” and “avoidable” mistakes while insisting they were unintentional.

He acknowledged signing an IMF statement at the time that he understood he had been reimbursed to pay those self-employment taxes, adding that he should have read the statement more carefully.

In his testimony, he laid blame on his TurboTax software

Why is this important?

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IRS: Lerner gets 4 Pinocchios … and pleads a fifth.

May 21, 2013

OK, now we’re starting to make some progress.

Lois Lerner is the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS.

She’s the one who answered a planted post-speech question  — by “apologizing”  for the IRS targeting conservative groups.

Her public statements regarding the IRS fiasco has earned her 4 Pinocchios from the left-leaning Washington Post.

More on that later.

Now, it’s being reported that she’ll plead the 5th Amendment at a Congressional hearing on Wednesday. Source

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Here’s a link to the Post’s analysis : A bushel of Pinocchios for IRS’s Lois Lerner.

Quick summary: Liar, liar … pants on fire.I know, innocent until proven guilty …

English translation: GUILTY !

Perp walk,  anybody?

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Rx: How to start fixing the IRS …

May 20, 2013

OK, here’s my diagnosis – the Dx — and my short-term prescription – the Rx.

First, the Dx …

Of course, the Tea Party and other conservative groups were targeted for political purposes.

Any claim of “efficiency procedures” or “inadvertent error” are simply ridiculous.

Of course,  folks high up the food chain were involved … setting the broad mission (with Mob-like deniability) — “punish your enemies” –- and condoning the actions by failing to stop them them when they became well known.

So, what to do?

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Here is how I’d get started righting the ship … the Rx:

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IRS: An “efficiency initiative” that resulted in horrible “customer service” … say, what?

May 18, 2013

I was in the car on Friday morning and tuned the radio to the Congressional testimony of the Treasury IG and Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller.

In a word: frightening.

First, the IG seems like a straight arrow.  HIs answers were direct, structured and fact-based.

He dished the bad news, but wouldn’t take the GOP bait to condemn beyond his specific findings.

Then, there was this clown.

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Let’s put this situation in perspective and then drill down …

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Nums: Will the scandal hurt the IRS’s image?

May 17, 2013

Trick question since the public’s perception of the IRS is already pretty low

According to A Pew survey, the Internal Revenue Service, now under intense scrutiny for singling out conservative groups,  is one of the least-popular federal agencies.

Specifically. the IRS ranks 11th out of 14 agencies (the 13 listed below plus the Homeland Security Department) in terms of public perception of their performance.

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Only 47% of people surveyed said they had a “very” or “mostly” favorable opinion of the IRS.

Hmmm.

That pesky 47% number.

 

I guess that folks who don’t pay income taxes think that the IRS lightening everybody else’s wallets is way cool.

The IRS is the second-lowest among the 13 agencies people were asked about.

The only agencies ranking lower were Eric Holder’s Justice Department (38% excellent or good), the Social Security Administration (36%) and Arne Duncan’s Education Department (33%).

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Stop right there, professor … proof of citizenship, please !

May 16, 2013

Unfortunately, this has become an annual event.  A summer initiation of sorts.

Once again, I was detained for questioning by government officials.

This year was unusually unnerving.

No, it wasn’t by rogue IRS agents in Cincinnati targeting an alleged conservative blogger.

image

I was suspected of crossing a border to illegally access government-provided services.

Here’s the story …

(more…)

Gotcha: IRS admits to targeting “Patriots” … turns attention to ObamaCare enforcement.

May 13, 2013

Just in case you missed the news last Friday, the IRS publicly admitted that it targeted conservative groups during the 2012 election … and then shielded itself behind a George Castanza defense.

Here is the WSJ summary of the IRS disclosure:

Yesterday,an Internal Revenue Service official disclosed for the first time, and by way of apologizing, that the agency that wields the taxing power of the federal government had targeted conservative groups for special scrutiny during the 2012 election season.

A spokeswoman acknowledged that the agency had flagged groups with the words “tea party” or “patriot” to have their tax returns inspected.

In addition, the agency was targeting groups raising  “issues regarding government spending, government debt or taxes”,  or …  how to  ‘make America a better place to live’WSJ update

She added the tax inspections were carried out entirely by low-level workers in Cincinnati without any direction from Washington.

Here’s my take on the IRS revelations:

First, a couple of weeks ago Obama bristled at the thought that some (many ?) folks don’t trust the government. 

What does the jabrone expect if his administration turns its bulldogs on its political opponents?

Can you imagine the outcry if George Bush had told the IRS to key word search “Muslim”, “Islamic”,”Progressive” or “choice” and then said to go get ‘em.

All hell would have broken loose.

Second, about the “don’t blame me, it was somebody in my organization” defense …

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An IRS agent, an FBI agent and a gardener ….

April 22, 2013

No, this isn’t the lead line of a bad joke.

It’s a question of priorities.

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Let’s start with the gardener …

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Warning: Before you click the 1040 eFile button …

January 14, 2013

This one strikes close to home.

Article in this morning’s WSJ E-Filing and the Explosion in Tax-Return Fraud

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Over 80% of individual returns were e-filed last year.

As a direct result:

  • Tax fraud is now the third-largest theft of federal funds after Medicare/Medicaid and unemployment-insurance fraud.
  • Tax-identity theft exploded to more than 1.1 million cases from 51,700 in 2008.
  • Last summer, the Treasury “discovered” an additional 1.5 million potentially fraudulent 2011 tax refunds totaling in excess of $5.2 billion.
  • The IRS has a backlog of 650,000 identity theft cases, and it usually takes over a year to resolve each of them

Here’s why I don’t just shrug off those stats.

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IRS: “Your mail is very important to us” … well, not really.

April 27, 2012

According to Business Week:

  • One in three people who call the IRS don’t get their calls answered
  • 10% of all mail sent to the IRS sits for at least 2 months before processing starts
  • Less than half of all people who write to the IRS get replies in less than 6 weeks 
  • 10% of all mail sent by the IRS never reaches the intended recipient.

Yipes !

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“Tax morale” … why some folks don’t pay up.

April 26, 2012

Did you know that there’s a field of study devoted to the subject of how individuals make choices about paying taxes; it’s called “tax morale.”

According to BusinessWeek, the IRS studied the factors motivating taxpayers to comply with tax laws and concluded that the” fear of getting caught plays a much smaller role in keeping taxpayers honest than is commonly assumed.” They’re less inclined to dodge when they believe that their cheating creates national problems.

On the flip-side, when taxpayers learn that many people evade taxes, they are more likely to evade them, too. 

And, the IRS hired  social anthropologists to look more closely at the behavior of tax dodgers.

They divided evaders into eight categories of noncompliance.

  • Procedural noncompliants don’t pay taxes because IRS procedures are too complicated.
  • Asocial and habitual noncompliant taxpayers get a rush out of cheating.
  • Symbolic noncompliant taxpayers game the system out of principle.
  • Brokered noncompliants use accountants and lawyers to cheat
  • Some who don’t comply simply can’t afford their tax burden, or are too lazy to file.
  • Generational noncompliers think it’s normal not to pay taxes because people in their families didn’t pay.

The sociologists also found that there are towns in the U.S. inhabited by super-taxpayers who have high compliance rates in numbers and percentage of taxes due that are paid.

Now, the IRS is trying to identify the  super-tax-paying communities’ demographics to pinpoint what makes their residents so honest.

Among the hypotheses: an inspiring pastor, an immigrant community with values from the home country, or really good public schools.

Maybe they should test the locales’ water supply …

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