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Current Page: Opinion | Wednesday, March 02, 2016
The Best Reason to Abolish the IRS

The Best Reason to Abolish the IRS

A security camera hangs near a corner of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service building in Washington, May 27, 2015. Tax return information for about 100,000 U.S. taxpayers was illegally accessed by cyber criminals over the past four months, U.S. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said on Tuesday, the latest in a series of data thefts that have alarmed American consumers. | (Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)

In a recent Republican Presidential "debate", the media controllers did not allocate much time to Dr. Ben Carsen for his well-reasoned perspective on issues. They focused instead on generating higher TV ratings by successfully prodding louder and ruder candidates into entertaining displays of mutual destruction.

Nonetheless, Dr. Carson managed to squeeze out enough time to make a very important point: The IRS needs to be abolished.

Dr. Gordon Boronow is a professor at Nyack College.

Dr. Carson had two supporting arguments. First, the IRS has become a political weapon against organizations and individuals (including Dr. Carson himself). Second, Dr. Carson has a tax system reform proposal which is so simple that an intrusive IRS will no longer be needed. (Other candidates have proposals for a simpler tax system too.)

The day after the debate, the IRS itself supplied another reason to abolish the IRS. The IRS admitted that over 700,000 individuals had their personal tax information hacked from the IRS computers. When this hacking story was first made public last May, the IRS estimated 100,000 people were affected. In August, the IRS increased the estimated number of people affected to 334,000. Now the number is 700,000! The tax information collected by the IRS is sensitive, personal, and apparently not well secured from hackers.

Readers of the Christian Post are familiar with the IRS scandal directed against Tea Party related organizations. The misuse of the IRS as a political weapon did not begin with President Obama and suppression of the Tea Party however. A particularly notorious user of the IRS as a political weapon was President Nixon. If Nixon had not resigned the Presidency, he almost certainly would have been successfully impeached, in large measure due to his misuse of the IRS.

These two examples only begin to reveal the degree to which the IRS has been used against the American people and against American principles of liberty. More examples are provided in a blog by James Bovard, "The Sordid History of IRS Political Abuse."

According to David Burnham, author of A Law Unto Itself: Power, Politics, and the IRS, "the records show that Franklin Delano Roosevelt may have set the stage for the use of the tax agency for political purposes".

Roosevelt used the IRS to attack political opponents such at Sen. Huey Long, Rep. Hamilton Fish, and former Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon, among others. (For Secretary Mellon, this was an example of when you live by the sword, you die by the sword.) Roosevelt also used the IRS to attack newspaper publishers Hearst and Annenberg, an indirect attack on freedom of the press which is a First Amendment freedom in the Bill of Rights.

Roosevelt did more than use the IRS to attack his opponents; he also abused his power to protect his allies. Roosevelt obstructed justice when he put a stop to an IRS investigation into the illegal massive campaign contributions from a federal contractor to then Rep. Lyndon Johnson. Perhaps Lyndon Johnson came to appreciate the power of the IRS from this episode.

Only a few years later Johnson used the IRS to prevent churches from the free exercise of religion. He put into legislation a restriction that churches could lose tax exempt status if they address certain "political" topics. The IRS continues to undermine religious freedom, the very first freedom listed in the Bill of Rights, since Johnson's blatantly unconstitutional legislation remains untested in the courts.

President Kennedy has a prominent place in this Presidential Hall of Shame. Kennedy aggressively pushed the IRS into forming the Ideological Organizations Audit Project to go after conservative groups that criticized his agenda. The IRS was thus used to suppress freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Kennedy also went after private individuals who stood in his way, using the IRS to punish executives in the steel industry with audits when they pushed back against his heavy-handed industrial policies.

President Nixon however, remains the poster boy for Presidential abuse of the IRS to punish and harass one's opponents.

His administration formed a Special Services Staff to direct "all IRS activities involving ideological, militant, subversive, radical, and similar type organizations." The IRS became a primary tool for political harassment in those dark days of American history. Groups and individuals were targeted based on political activism and their financial support to the Democratic Party. The Nixon administration expanded a secret IRS database, the Intelligence Gathering and Retrieval System, begun under President Kennedy to collect information on Americans and political groups. The database was abolished once the public learned of its existence.

After Nixon's extensive abuses, Congress passed legislation creating greater separation between the White House and the IRS. President Clinton therefore was much more discreet in his relations with the IRS, and has not been directly tied to any specific action taken by the IRS. However, the targets of audits by the IRS are suspiciously correlated to a list of magazines, think tanks, other entities and individuals compiled in a report by the Clinton White House called Communication Stream of Conspiracy Commerce.

The Landmark Legal Foundation fought back against the IRS, and the legal process that ensued revealed details of records being destroyed and audit requests coming from the White House as well as from both parties in Congress.

The ugly history of IRS abuse of power goes deeper than this. Read Burnham's book for much, much more.

Anyone who thinks that politically based IRS attacks on basic American freedoms can be prevented by more legislation or electing "good" people is not paying attention. The corruption of power is inherent in a tax system as complex as our own which is controlled by politically motivated people.

Dr. Carson's prescription is exactly correct. The way to end the abuse of power by the IRS is to eliminate the opportunity by making the tax system so simple that the IRS can be completely abolished. We need to take this seriously.

The basic freedoms we love are endangered by the continued existence of an endlessly complex tax system enforced by a massive and politically controlled IRS. Religious liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, academic freedom and freedom of assembly have already been attacked by the IRS.

Defend freedom and abolish the IRS.

Dr. Gordon Boronow is a professor at Nyack College.

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