The poor IRS

By Joseph Farah

“There are heartening signs that the Internal Revenue Service is beginning to recover from the largely unfair beating it took at the hands of the new Republican Congress in the mid-’90s.”

A Democratic Party fund-raising mailer? A Hillary Clinton in 2004 campaign plank? A press release from the Treasury Department?

No, it wouldn’t be believable that such a statement would be made in any of those venues.

Yet, it was the first sentence of a Rocky Mountain News editorial last week.

As you know, newspaper editorials are the official opinions of the publishers. They represent what the owners of the news organizations believe – deep down in their hearts.

So, it was with a sense of disbelief I read this short editorial over and over again – trying to figure out the motivation for this bit of puffery. It still has me stumped.

Maybe you can help me sort this out. Here’s some more from this attempt at either poorly executed parody or inexplicable whitewashing of the most feared and heavy-handed agency in the federal government.

“High-profile hearings portrayed the IRS as rigid, uncaring and abusive,” read the editorial. “Well, it sometimes is, of course, but the grandstanding lawmakers did not dwell on the inconvenient constitutional fact that the tax code is entirely the world of Congress. And many of the ‘abuses’ cited at the hearings did not stand up well under later scrutiny, although by then the damage to the agency had been done.”

Now, let’s analyze this for a moment. The very reason Congress held hearings on IRS abuses is because Congress bears direct responsibility for the tax code. What other reason or authority would there have been for such hearings? The newspaper cites no evidence to back up its statement that abuses revealed in the hearings did not stand up well under scrutiny. Nor does it offer any evidence of irreparable harm done to its precious agency. Last I heard, the IRS is, unfortunately, alive and well and coming after Americans with reckless abandon, intruding into the most intimate details of our private lives with all the subtlety and tact of a mastodon in a Lenox shop.

But it gets worse.

“The number of audits, the principal means of catching tax evasion, fell from 1.9 million in 1996 to 732,000 last year,” the editorial continues. “One key reason: The number of auditors fell by 29 percent, a manpower shortage that Congress should rectify.”

Now, let me ask you a question: Do you want to see more of your tax money used to hire more tax auditors, thereby increasing the chances you will be audited and required to pay more taxes?

I don’t know upon what planet the writers of this editorial reside, but I have yet to discover anyone here on earth who thinks like this – unless, of course, they work at the IRS. Is the IRS actually providing editorial copy for major U.S. papers now? And what does the paper get in return? A wink and a nod at tax time, perhaps?

“No one likes paying taxes and the IRS is a convenient whipping boy, but it is vital to the health of a democracy that still largely relies on voluntary compliance that the taxpayers see that the tax code is evenly and fairly enforced,” the editorial concludes.

Voluntary compliance? Is that what’s it’s called when the government throws you in jail if you don’t file a tax return?

The press is supposed to hold government accountable for constitutional excesses, for outright fraud, for abuse of individual rights, for institutional waste and for systematic corruption.

Instead, as I have pointed out frequently, the establishment news media in America far too often apologizes for Big Government when it runs roughshod over the people. It excuses such behavior. It encourages it.

I can think of no better example than this official opinion of the Rocky Mountain News. While the IRS is abusing its authority, conducting armed raids on taxpayers, rendering citizens virtual serfs of the state and even allowing itself under current leadership to be used as a weapon of political retribution, the Big Media are portraying the agency as a victim. Incredible.