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Editorial: IRS stonewalling puts audit shoe on other foot

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If the Internal Revenue Service was auditing you, and you whined that getting all the documentation agents wanted was too hard and would take you years, what do you think the response would be?

Exactly.

Yet that’s the game IRS chief John Koskinen is playing with the U.S. House Government Oversight and Reform Committee. Apparently, turnabout is not fair play in IRS Land.

At issue is how the IRS handled applications for tax-exempt status by tea party and other conservative groups, and what Koskinen says will be millions of communications involving his agency, White House officials and others.

A leading member of the committee, Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, told Koskinen, “we don’t want the excuses anymore. Prioritize it. Put more lawyers on the job. All means all.”

And all is a lot. Koskinen has already buried congressional committees in more than 1.1 million pages of documents since investigations began last spring and says the delay for the rest is because, by law, the agency must redact sensitive personal information about taxpayers.

Your tax dollars at work?

Under this flurry of paper is the fact that the IRS has already disclosed that agency employees flagged groups that mentioned “tea party” or “patriot” in their applications for nonprofit status or were involved in “limiting/expanding Government, educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights, social economic reform/movement.”

Add to that the fact Lois Lerner, the former IRS official at the center of the controversy, has twice refused to answer Oversight committee questions, and may be held in contempt of Congress and turned over to federal prosecutors.

According to IRS.gov, the agency’s mission is to “provide America’s taxpayers top quality service by helping them understand and meet their tax responsibilities and enforce the law with integrity and fairness to all.” That mission statement makes this stonewalling all the more unacceptable – and just as offensive as if a different party was in the White House and a different party was asking the questions.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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