IRS Admits to Inappropriately Targeting Political Organizations

Plenty of taxpayers have dealt with IRS scrutiny, particularly in the form of an audit or tax controversy. We have personally worked with hundreds of taxpayers in their battles with the agency. And while these disputes are unpleasant, at least we can take solace in the fact that the IRS is staffed with agents who will consistently uphold the law and deal fairly with each person.

Right?

Not really. As you probably already know, it was revealed this month that IRS agents spent more than a year singling out specific organizations for extra scrutiny. As the LA Times reports:

Congressional investigators are broadening their inquiry into the Internal Revenue Service’s mishandling of groups seeking tax-exempt status, indicating that they plan to examine how the agency dealt with a wide swath of nonprofit applications during the last three years.

An inspector general’s report found that some 501(c)4 applications by conservative groups were singled out for extra review and that the groups were sent intrusive requests for additional information.

“Targeting applicants for tax-exempt status using political labels threatens to undermine the public’s trust in the IRS,” the senators wrote. “Lack of candor in advising the Senate of this practice is equally troubling.”

This case is alarming for a variety of reasons. It makes one wonder how much more of this type of behavior exists but simply goes undetected.

More practically, it erodes confidence in the IRS. A taxpayer that is engaged in an audit or a tax dispute already feels like he or she is in an impossible situation—but the knowledge that IRS agents have been known to violate the law makes it seem even worse.

And then there is the hypocrisy—an agency that expects taxpayers to account for every penny they spend and follow every obscure regulation doesn’t hold themselves to the same standard. It’s disappointing to say the least.

All of this underscores the need to work with an attorney who understands tax law. You clearly can’t expect the IRS to play by the rules—so if you’re facing an IRS dispute, give us a call and let us keep them honest. Please feel free to contact us today to learn more!