I’ve never been audited
by the IRS. Maybe the secret is to not have enough money to justify
Citizens for Limited
Taxation, being purely and proudly political, isn’t a tax-exempt
organization. In April 1983, we did create a research-education arm
called the Citizens Economic Research Foundation (CERF); we’d heard
it was a difficult process so we were grateful that one of our
supporters offered his Washington-based lawyer to file the paperwork
to get tax-exempt status.
According to my files,
we were given preliminary approval in November 1983. There was some
back-and-forth paperwork, and we received our final designation as a
501(c)3 in November 1984. As I checked my files for this
information, I was surprised to see a now-familiar name signing the
acceptance cover letter: Steven T. Miller, director, Exempt
You may have recently
seen Mr. Miller, presently acting director of the entire Internal
Revenue Service, testifying before a congressional committee about
the targeting of conservative organizations. His new title,
apparently: fall guy for part of the Obama administration’s 2012
re-election strategy of harassing the opposition. Mr. Miller
announced his resignation last week.
Considering that he was
in his twenties when he signed off on CERF, he must be about to
retire anyhow. He did seem arrogant at the hearing, but I’ll bet
that just shows an attitude from many career bureaucrats who reflect
the ideology and attitudes of their boss. This is why it doesn’t
matter who originally appointed them.
Aside from the length
of the process, we received no harassment from anyone. Mr. Miller’s
boss in 1983-84 was Roscoe Egger Jr., whose tenure I remember with
When he became head of
the IRS early in the Reagan administration, Mr. Egger set about
making major improvements in an agency that was notably inefficient.
I met him when he was helping to draft Ronald Reagan’s bipartisan
Tax Reform Act of 1986, which simplified the tax code, lowering
rates and closing many loopholes.
The IRS commissioner
had been long-scheduled to address a South Shore Chamber of Commerce
breakfast, but happened to be there the day after the Tax Reform Act
details were announced. I was a guest in an unexpectedly crowded
room, as reporters from around the nation converged on Quincy to ask
questions about the tax changes; because they were revenue-neutral,
and part of a larger program to downsize Big Government, opponents
were in typical attack mode.
CLT activists had gone
through the same intense opposition during the 1980 Proposition 21/2
campaign. Our researcher Joni Lane, now of Gloucester, had given me
a plaque that said “When you are up to your (rear) in alligators,
remember that your purpose in being there is to drain the swamp.”
I wrote that message on
an index card and gave it to one of the IRS agents who had
accompanied Commissioner Egger, asking him to pass it on. He smiled
and put it in his pocket.
Two months later I was
reading an article about the tax reform battle in Time Magazine:
President Reagan was quoted saying, “When you are up to your keister
in alligators, remember that your purpose in being there is to drain
I’ve happily imagined
the agent giving my suggestion to his boss, who gave it to Reagan —
who liked it but was too much of a gentleman to quote it exactly.
Well, the Tax Reform
Act of 1986 passed and improved things for a while, then they went
back to normal complexity, which is why we are hearing arguments for
tax simplification and closing loopholes today. IRS managers are no
longer working for Ronald Reagan, though; now they work for Barack
Obama. Grab your keister and run!
First we learned that
conservative groups with “tea party” and “patriot” in their names,
with a mission to defend the Constitution and make this a better
country, had their requests for tax-exempt status held up for as
long as three years, past the 2010 and 2012 elections. As Congress
began holding hearings, we learned about the IRS auditing Romney
Then last Friday
Washington Times columnist Cheryl Chumley wrote that the IRS and 15
of its agents have been sued by a health care provider for
wrongfully seizing 60 million medical records in 2011. Apparently
the IRS had a search warrant for financial data on one employee and
seized information on 10 million people, including state judges.
Republicans in Congress
have already filed legislation removing the IRS as the enforcer of
ObamaCare, which was always a bad idea, not just because of
presidential keister-kissing managers. Jeffrey Lord at the American
Spectator has found that President Barack Obama met with the
president of the National Treasury Employees Union’s Colleen Kelley,
on March 31, 2010. The NTEU is “the 150,000 member union that
represents IRS employees…”
The report from the
inspector general of the Treasury Department, titled “Inappropriate
Criteria Were Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review,”
indicates that the IRS, in Lord’s words, “set to work in earnest
targeting the Tea Party and conservative groups around America” the
very next day.
Taxpayer activists and
tea party patriots: focus. Remember our purpose in being here is to
drain the swamp.