There is an old saying that nothing in life is certain except death and taxes, but if one lives in the United States, only death is certain. It is true that few Americans like paying taxes, but they like their roads, schools, police and fire protection, and prisons that keep criminals under lock and key. Republicans detest taxes as a matter of course, and their wealthy corporate paymasters have made sure over the past two years that the Internal Revenue Service tasked with collecting taxes to fund government services all Americans depend on cannot properly execute their jobs of collecting taxes because funding cuts have left the agency woefully understaffed and impotent.
Republicans have spent the past four-and-a-half years jumping from one faux outrage to the next to avoid doing the jobs they were sent to Washington to do, and while they are still embroiled in the fantasy Benghazi scandal, they have latched on to a report the IRS allegedly gave extra attention and over-scrutinized neo-conservative teabagger’s applications for tax exempt status. The IRS’s job is to scrutinize applications for tax exemption and the truth is they do not scrutinize tax exempt organizations nearly enough or thoroughly to guarantee that a group adheres to the rules while they avoid paying taxes like every other American. However, Republicans have their proverbial panties in a wad because the IRS was looking carefully at organizations that are decidedly anti-government and anti-American, and because they did their jobs, Republicans are crying foul and alleging a scandal giving them more reason to defund the IRS. It is not that Republicans needed any reason to defund their paymasters’ mortal enemy, but instead of criticizing the IRS, they deserve praise for doing their jobs.
The prescient question is not why the IRS gave extra attention to the teabaggers’ application for tax exemption, but why they did not look closer at the phony grass roots organization and their billionaire bankroller’s the Koch brothers. Let’s face it, the group materializes within weeks of an African American being administered the oath of office to be President of the United States, and soon thereafter shows up at protests replete with teabags and revolutionary war garb complaining they were “taxed enough already” and warn the government “we came unarmed this time” after being given a substantial tax cut by the Black man in the Oval Office. And why wouldn’t the IRS look closely at a group that gathered near the Capital Building to hurl racial epithets and spit at African American Congressional representatives on their way to vote to give 30-40 million Americans access to affordable healthcare teabaggers claimed was a white privilege and not a human right?
The groups that were scrutinized while applying to avoid paying taxes are reported by Fox News to be various so-called patriot groups (read anti-government militias) that focused on government spending, taxes, education, and the 9/12 Project, or to put it more succinctly; anti-government groups. The same groups, by the way, that advocate arming themselves and starting a civil, race, or revolutionary war to fight imaginary tyranny imposed by the African American President, and crusading to eliminate any program that advances the country for the benefit of all Americans. Doubtless the IRS scrutinized teabagger groups such as the one the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’s started, Liberty Central, after receiving $690,000 from the Heritage Foundation that Clarence just happened to deliberately omit from his financial disclosure. There are more than enough reasons to give extra scrutiny to neo-conservative tax exempt applicants, and their anti-government, anti-tax advocacy should be motivation to increase scrutiny, not condemn it as “outrageous.”
Republicans have starved the IRS of funding for much-needed staffing to collect revenue owed to the government for the past two years and it is an absurd funding cut from a fiscally responsible standpoint. Republicans love to tout running the government as a business, but they ignore the simple premise of “Return on Investment.” In fiscal year 2012, the IRS collected $2.52 trillion on a budget of $11.8 billion that translates to an average return-on-investment (ROI) of about 214:1. Last year, the IRS Commissioner appointed by George W. Bush estimated that proposed reductions in the IRS budget would cause tax collections to fall seven times as much, and in a letter to Congress wrote, “No business would fail to fund a unit that, on average, brought in $7 for every dollar spent. Shareholders would rebel and bring lawsuits, or at least oust the management or board of directors.”
Now, with a trumped up scandal that should be celebrated, Marco Rubio called for President Obama to demand the non-existent IRS Commissioner’s ouster, even though it was the Bush appointee who resigned in November who oversaw the extra scrutiny on teabag and patriot (militia) applications for tax exemption. Some neo-conservatives are calling for defunding the IRS, and of course Republicans want to defund the IRS; it is the ultimate anti-tax advocacy and fits the Kochs, Grover Norquist, Heritage Foundation, and Republican campaign to “get government out of the way” by starving it so it is easier to “get government down to size and drown it in a bathtub.” However, there is a better idea that Republicans will particularly bristle at because it is the ultimate expression of equality for all Americans; end all tax exempt non-profit designations regardless they are neo-conservative anti-government advocates or theocrats living off American taxpayers’ forced largesse.
Of course there will be outrage at the suggestion all Americans would have to pay taxes, but Republicans claim “America is broke” and yet protect the top Fortune 500 companies, like political and religious organizations, that pay no income taxes while they depend on law enforcement, street sweepers, air traffic controllers, and healthcare providers that serve the community and still pay their fair share in taxes. It is high time to adequately fund the IRS to scrutinize and collect taxes from all Americans, but especially anti-government groups like teabaggers and uber-patriots clamoring for civil war. President Obama said the IRS giving extra attention to neo-conservative, anti-government groups’ applications for tax exempt status was “outrageous,” but he has to say that; this author does not. In fact, the IRS employees who “harshly scrutinized” anti-government and anti-tax groups deserve kudos and assistance in the form of more investigators to look at giving patriots’ “free-ride” applications added scrutiny, and instead of backing off, they should be instructed to scrutinize them with extreme prejudice because if Americans are paying for them to use our roads, schools, and law enforcement, then they damn sure better not be the groups or their funding machines actively campaigning against this government.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.