Court Slaps Down IRS for Stonewalling Investigation

It’s been nearly three years since the story of the IRS targeting and harassing conservative nonprofit organizations broke, but the investigation into what actually happened is ongoing and resulted in an important court ruling this week. One reason the task of finding out who knew what has taken so long is that the IRS has been resolutely uncooperative with the investigation, from the claims that documents had been lost or destroyed, to outright refusals to provide relevant evidence.

Tuesday, a federal court called shenanigans on the agency’s tactics, ordering the IRS to turn over spreadsheets indicating which groups were targeted. Judge Raymond Kethledge gave agency administrators a tongue lashing, arguing that the accusation of targeting of specific groups for political purposes are "among the most serious allegations a federal court can address."

Executive Director of FreedomWorks Foundation Curt Levey, who heads the organization’s regulatory reform project, commented, "It’s refreshing to see the courts confirm what we have long known to be true: that the IRS has been actively obstructing this investigation from the beginning. The IRS is just another example of what happens when federal agencies, run by unelected bureaucrats, are given too much power. The lack of accountability inevitably leads to abuses by bureaucrats who come to believe they are above the law. The solution is to restore the constitutional separation of powers, under which agencies would be limited to faithfully executing the law.”

The lack of transparency and corrective action at the IRS is one of the main drivers behind FreedomWorks’ campaign to impeach Commissioner John Koskinen, who took over the agency shortly after the targeting scandal emerged and has failed to do anything to uncover the truth or correct the problems. According to the Government Accountability Office, Koskinen failed to implement needed reforms to prevent targeting, and indeed, may still be continuing the practice of targeting conservative groups to this day. The GAO report states: “The control deficiencies increase the risk of selecting organizations for audit in an unfair manner — for example, based on an organization’s religious, educational, political, or other views.” The congressional effort to impeach Koskinen is being led by House Freedom Caucus members Jim Jordan (R-OH) and Ron DeSantis (R-FL)

The federal ruling confirming the corruption of the IRS highlights the need to reduce the power of the agency through fundamental tax reform. The scope of the IRS’s power has far exceeded its basic function of revenue collection, as evidenced by the agency’s ability to persecute Americans based on their political or religious beliefs. Recently, the agency was also given extended authority over Americans’ health care choices, having been put in charge of implementing various ObamaCare taxes and penalties. Deleting the federal tax code and replacing it with a simple flat tax would automatically eliminate a great deal of bureaucracy, opportunity for abuse, and by extension, corruption.

Until then, we intend to continue holding the IRS’s feet to the fire to demand transparency and accountability for its misdeeds.