Sentence first, verdict afterward! – the hysterical shriek of the red queen in Lewis Carrol’s Alice in Wonderland. It’s great fiction, but an ugly reality when it comes to dealing with the IRS.
Many people are unaware that they need not be convicted of anything for the IRS to simply seize their property – bank accounts, real estate, etc.
Suspicion alone – founded or unfounded – is all it takes.
You are presumed guilty until you prove yourself innocent.
You can either write a check for whatever the IRS claims you “owe” and hope that satisfies them. Or risk punitive actions such as penalties and fines heaped on top of that and the possibility of them seizing everything you own in the meanwhile – while also paying for a lawyer out of your own pocket to defend yourself.
This puts tremendous, frightening – and largely unaccountable – power in the hands of a federal agency not known for playing nice.
Or even fairly.
You may recall the recent revelations that the IRS targeted conservative groups (and individuals) whose politics it didn’t like for special handling – as the Germans used to call it.
You may not have heard that the IRS has been farming out its auditing investigations to private (for-profit) law firms. These law firms have every incentive to take their time (billable hours) and also to go after people aggressively, whether there is any legitimate (legal) reason to do so or not.
The target – for now – is Microsoft – but it could be anyone, once the principle is established.
Putting tax investigations into the hands of private, for-profit accounting firms is not unlike putting traffic enforcement in the hands of private, for-profit red light camera companies. In both cases, the motivation is money – not due process. It’s a well-known scandal that red light camera “vendors” deliberately shortened yellow signal intervals so as to increase the number of people who “ran” red lights – and could be dunned for money.
How eager do you suppose private tax-investigators would be to ferret out supposed “violations” of the tax code?
And the potential for abuse is much higher because it is much harder to hold private entities accountable.
After all, you can’t vote them out.
The IRS also alters – at its whim – the statute of limitations for prosecuting certain tax cases. Bet you hadn’t heard about that, either.
It’s pretty scary stuff.
Ohio Sen. Rob Portman has introduced legislation to reign in some of these excesses – in particular, the IRS’ use of mercenary private sector tax lawyers to do its work. If the bill passes, practice would be – should be – explicitly forbidden.
Taxpayers would also be given the legal right to have their cases heard by an Appeals board before the matter goes to tax court. This would take some of the pressure off people accused by IRS investigators of owing money prior to the IRS having proved they do, in fact, owe the government money.
Punishing people before they’ve even had a chance to formally defend themselves against charges levied against them – let alone been convicted of anything – is profoundly at odds with everything America is supposed to be about. It smacks of banana republic kleptocracies where if they want your money, they’ll just take your money. That ought to repel us, as Americans. If we’ve broken the law, hold us accountable. But not before it’s been demonstrated that we have, in fact, broken the law.
The IRS should also have to respect the statute of limitations – something that is a given when it comes to any other criminal investigation. Shouldn’t the same principle apply to tax law?
Fairness requires that the law be clear – and clearly defined. Changing the law after the fact (ex post facto laws) was one of the “long train of abuses” cited by Jefferson when he wrote the Declaration of Independence.
No one likes paying taxes – and the rightness of having to pay them at all is something that can be legitimately be debated. But it’s not debatable – or shouldn’t be – that no one should be held responsible for things they’ve merely been accused of doing. Nor be denied the right to appeal. Nor be charged with a crime after the statute of limitations has expired.
That’s for Alice in Wonderland and the Red Queen.
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Wesley Snipes has probably paid millions in taxes. Yet he get the same useless shit we get from them. Only he pays a 20000 times markup.
Its insane for him to pay millions for something thats worth effectively nothing. And then be considered a criminal by others because he didn’t pay even more millions.
I’m all for returning functions the government has overtaken from the private sector, but this isn’t one of them. The IRS itself shouldn’t exist. Then there wouldn’t be abuses at all. The 16th amendment should be repealed. Passing it in the first place was truly one of the worst things to happen to this country.
” The 16th amendment should be repealed”
Actually it was never ratified. That is supposed to require 2/3 of the States passing identical legislation. That never happened, but the Nazgul decreed that enough states had passed “significantly similar” laws, or words to that effect. When TPTB want something, they will ‘make it so.’ Another reason NOT to bother voting, even if there is a clear-cut choice.
PTB, amendments proposed by the FedGov are to be ratified by 3/4ths of the state legislatures or state convention. True enough though, the 16th didn’t get 3/4 of the needed states. That didn’t deter Alexander Knox though. He declared it ratified and the scrotums of the united States backed it up with their bullshit rulings.
One thing I’ve noticed when it comes to the scrotums. Since dishonest Abe’s regime of terror, the scrotums have increasingly ruled in the FedGov’s favor when it becomes the people vs the FedGov. I can only think of a few times the scrotums have ruled against the FedGov. Most notably they ruled Socialist (in)Security was unconstitutional which lead the F(uckin) D(emocrat) Roosevelt threatening to restructure the scrotum court with communist to get the results he wanted. After that threat, the scrotums bent to the devil’s surrogate desire and ruled Socialist (in)Security passed the smell test. It has literally been all down hill since.
Thanks for the clarification, DW. I could not remember whether it was 2/3 or 3/4, and did not take the time to look it up.
IIRC, the Nazgul told FDR that if Socialist Insecurity was an insurance program, that it was unconstitutional. But he said no it is not, and they let it through. But the sheeple continue to think it is an insurance program, while it is really a Ponzi scheme for redistribution.
People blather on about the rule of law but when I look into things, when I personally experience them as well, I find the law is whatever they say it is when they say it. Five minutes ago or five minutes from now it may be different, just like the weather.
The moment I or any one else points this out to the masses they erupt with calls of “conspiracy theorist” and worse.
People don’t always require the law to be fair, although that is to be preferred. But it must be predictable, or civilization breaks down – as it seems to be doing.
It’s still predictable. If I am driving my mustang at 85mph on the middle section of I-294 next to Bill Gates driving 85mph in his 959 I get pulled over and go to cook county jail. Mr. Gates keeps on driving. If I am riding my bicycle in Mr. Obama’s neighborhood and I move out of the bike lane a cop makes up a law that I have to stay in the bike lane and harasses me over it. Mr. Obama gets to bike anyway he pleases.
So the laws are very predictable. Even the ones made up on the spot. There of those of us subject to them and those of us who are not. It’s been like this for a long time. The problem is that more people who figured they weren’t the bad people over there that were subject to the laws are now subject to them.