Americans of all political persuasions are rightfully outraged by recent revelations of political targeting by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Adding to the concern, the IRS will be the chief enforcer of the many new health care mandates set to be implemented during the next year. The improper conduct and mismanagement at the agency have raised serious questions about the ability of the IRS to handle such broad new responsibilities and powers.
The IRS has admitted groups applying for tax exempt status with words in their titles such as "Tea Party," "patriots," or "9/12 project" or who's stated goals were to educate about the U.S. Constitution were automatically flagged for further review, delays, and even audits.
This is not a Republican issue nor a Democrat issue. Members of Congress in both parties and President Obama have condemned the agency's actions and have committed to investigating this matter to find out how and why this occurred.
As the Ways and Means Committee continues to investigate, the details which have emerged are concerning. In some cases the additional review given to conservative groups included requests for donor lists, descriptions of books they were reading, lists of volunteers, and even the content of prayers. It is imperative we fully investigate this case on a bipartisan basis.
Partisan or political actions by any government agency would be wrong, but the IRS case is so disturbing because of the agency's enormous power. This power is set to expand significantly over the course of the next year with the full implementation of the President's health care law.
Internal Revenue Service agents will be charged with verifying if your health care coverage is acceptable, as defined by bureaucrats in Washington. If you do not have creditable coverage, the IRS will have the authority to fine you up to $2,250 or two percent of your income whichever is greater. To enforce this penalty, the IRS will also have the authority to confiscate your tax refund.
A 2010 Committee on Ways and Means report on the health care law found the agency may need to hire as many as 16,500 additional auditors, agents, and other employees to investigate and collect billions of dollars in new taxes from the American people. The report found audits will likely increase, and the agency will likely need at least $10 billion to administer the law in the first decade.
There are thousands of hard-working, dedicated, and noble employees at the IRS. However, I question the wisdom of dramatically expanding the authority and power of the IRS while we are still working to get more answers about the scope and the reasoning for political targeting at the agency. The political actions of the IRS can now be added to the growing list of reasons to repeal the President's misguided attempt at health care reform.