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Editorial: Lame IRS excuse should be good for all taxpayers

The federal agency that has the power to make even educated, forceful and successful men and women quake with five simple letters (a-u-d-i-t) can’t find its homework.

Not on an internal hard drive. Or an external hard drive. Or writeable discs. Or a network server. Or the cloud. And despite the fact the agency manual apparently mandates that backups exist.

If the Internal Revenue Service would really have the American public believe it is so inept as to not have a record of a former official’s emails to outside officials regarding its handling of tea party and other conservative group applications, then all that nail biting over lost receipts and missing invoices can stop right now.

Because, in fairness, all you should have to say is your computer crashed like Lois Lerner’s.

That’s right. The same Lois Lerner who took the Fifth before two House committee hearings and was held in contempt of Congress. And the same IRS that has whined that supplying Congress with pertinent documents is too hard and will take years.

The document search, focused on tax-exempt applications 2010 to 2012, is trying to get to the bottom of whether anyone outside the agency directed the targeting or even knew about it – or whether Obama and his allies simply benefited while in a state of blissful ignorance until learning about this travesty via news reports. With Lerner’s mysteriously convenient – and surprisingly new – summer of 2011 computer-crash excuse, the parallels to Watergate are growing like the interest on unpaid back taxes.


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Imagine the outcry if the administration that claimed it “lost” the data happened to be Republican and the groups targeted for delays or extra scrutiny had “civil rights” in their names.

That’s the underlying point to the investigations – government is supposed to be by all the people and for all the people, not just for the ones who happen to be in power during a random four-year term.

Investigators with the three congressional committees, the Justice Department and the IRS inspector general who are looking into this gross abuse of power should address the “computer crash ate my homework” excuse with two letters of their own: b and s.

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.