My latest op-ed, title above, appeared in The Virginian-Pilot last Thursday.
One of the things that always got me when I worked for the IRS (1980 – 1985) was that any scandal caused every single employee to be painted with a broad brush, even if those employees had nothing to do with it. That hasn’t changed and while most of my colleagues from my IRS days are gone, some remain.
I spent far more time on the other side of the table. And in that time, I can count on one hand the number of IRS employees that I had trouble with. Yes, there are some employees who are complete jerks, who abuse their power. But my experience tells me that those employees are few and far between. I think I’ve dealt, over the years, with nearly every aspect of the IRS, from exam to collections, from estates and trusts to exempt organizations. By and large, they are hardworking, dedicated folks.
But this targeting thing really bothers me. Because the report points out the poor training and lack of oversight.That is not the IRS that I have experienced all these years. Something is really, really wrong that allowed this to happen – and to go on so long.
And to learn that there is a mismatch between Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(4), which is the law as passed by Congress and uses the term “exclusively,” and Regulation § 1.501(c)(4)-1, which is the official interpretation of the law and which uses the term “primarily,” is just beyond belief. This should have been fixed long ago.
I’m sure there will be more stuff coming out about this – a few heads rolling at the top doesn’t begin to solve the problem that allowed the targeting to occur. I can only hope, though, that folks take into consideration all the other IRS employees who are not a part of this mess.
My column appears in The Virginian-Pilot every week, usually on Thursdays. You can see the columns as they are published here, or navigate to them from the PilotOnline.com homepage by clicking on Opinion and then choosing my name at the bottom of the dropdown list. You can also see the columns by liking my Facebook page. Although my column appears weekly, I am not and have never been an employee of The Virginian-Pilot.Follow @vpaige