IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, infamous for his defiant congressional testimony about the inappropriate targeting of conservative tea party groups, is warning that budget cuts to the agency will cause delayed refunds, more identity theft, long wait times for help and a possible shut down of the agency. More from Forbes:
With a week to go before tax season opens, taxpayers were already bracing for a potentially “miserable” filing season. It turns out that it could live up to the hype.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Commissioner Koskinen has advised employees that the budget cuts will result in reduced services to taxpayers. In an email to employees sent earlier today, Commissioner Koskinen advised that “realistically we have no choice but to do less with less.”
Notice how Koskinen doesn't mention the extra hell Obamacare rules are putting tax filers through this year...
Maybe Koskinen should ask IRS employees who owe back taxes to pay up in order to help fill the gap. Or how about avoiding handing out bonuses worth millions to employees who owe back taxes to the federal government?
Commissioner John Koskinen announced the bonuses in an email to employees on Monday, saying they were a way to reward long-suffering staffers who have put up with budget and workforce cuts and are still keeping the agency humming.
But the payout, worth millions of dollars in taxpayers’ money, isn’t sitting well with congressional critics, who said it sends the wrong message at a time when the agency is reeling from several scandals, and when even staffers who are delinquent on their taxes can collect bonuses.
“It’s no wonder the American people find it hard to believe the IRS needs more money when the agency fails to collect back taxes from their own employees and instead rewards them with bonuses,” said Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, the Utah Republican who is poised to become chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance next year. “American families have been doing more with less for far too long now, and it is time the IRS [does] the same.”
Oh, and then there's the $3.3. billion federal government employees owe in back taxes.
Federal employees owe a total of $3.3 billion in back taxes to the federal government, according to Internal Revenue Service data released Thursday.
In all, 318,462 federal employees owed back taxes as of last Sept. 30 — an increase of 2.6% from the previous year. That puts the average tax bill at $10,391, according to IRS data obtained by USA TODAY under the Freedom of Information Act.
Further, the IRS budget has increased over past years.
Before Koskinen whines about Americans getting a break through less funding of the IRS, he should demand employees within his agency are held to the same standards as the rest of us. For some context, Americans spend 6.1 billion hours per year preparing their tax returns at an average cost of $168 billion. If they don't, they get fined and threatened with prison.
Long-term tax reform is the only real solution to IRS budget problems, but imagine Koskinen's outrage over that proposal.
For those anxiously awaiting the nation’s next religious freedom showdown, look no further than Atlanta, where a growing controversy is currently unfolding over the recent dismissal of Fire Rescue Chief Kelvin Cochran, who last year wrote and distributed a self-published book that espoused his Christian beliefs, among them were the condemnation of homosexuality.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed says he fired Cochran last week for exhibiting poor judgment and insubordination during an initial 30-day suspension over the former chief’s book, “Who Told You You Were Naked.” In the book, Cochran condemns homosexual acts as “vile, vulgar and inappropriate.”
Just days before hundreds of thousands of people will gather in the nation’s capital for the annual March for Life, pro-lifers on the West Coast will get their chance to celebrate the beauty and dignity of every human life at OneLifeLA, the first-ever large-scale pro-life event in The City of Angels, on Jan. 17.
The event, which is sponsored by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, will include a walk, entertainment, and a host of renowned speakers who will discuss pro-life topics ranging from abortion and adoption to human trafficking and euthanasia.
Ryan Bomberger, Chief Creative Officer of The Radiance Foundation, Townhall columnist, and keynote speaker of the event, will debut a new video ad, “Never Picture Perfect,” which addresses what happens when those who are considered “imperfect” are discarded.
“Life is never picture perfect. And that’s what makes it so beautiful,” Bomberger, an adoptee and adoptive father, said in a statement. “I was born as a result of rape, yet my courageous biological mother chose life and made a loving plan of adoption. We all find throughout our lives that we are stronger than our perceived or actual circumstances.”
Sadly, with more than 200,000 abortions done each year, California has the highest number of abortions of any state in the nation, making this event particularly important in spreading the prolife community’s message that every life matters—planned or unplanned, perfect or “imperfect.”
The Republican National Committee has selected July 18-21 as the official dates for the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio.
"I'm pleased to announce the 2016 Republican National Convention will kick off on July 18," said RNC Chairman Reince Priebus. "A convention in July is a historic success for our party and future nominee. The convention will be held significantly earlier than previous election cycles, allowing access to crucial general election funds earlier than ever before to give our nominee a strong advantage heading into Election Day.
“We're excited to continue working with our partners in Cleveland and we look forward to showcasing everything the city has to offer to our delegates and the world in 2016.”
This will likely be hailed as an across-the-board smart decision. In 2012, for example, the convention wasn’t convened until almost September, which made it annoyingly difficult for the nominee to spend precious funds on the general election when doing so would have been most effective.
Meanwhile, the RNC will likely hold somewhere between six and 12 presidential primary debates -- cutting the total number of debates roughly in half from 2012.
This is good news all around.
At the GOP’s joint retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania where House and Senate Republicans are laying out their 2015 game plan, Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) decided to jump into the press pool to discuss immigration. Like vultures, media figures swarmed the California Republican who declared that a DHS bill will pass, and that Republicans wouldn’t shut down that part of the government.
“We will pass a DHS bill,” said the congressman. “It will be passed on time; we will not shut down this part of the government, he added.
But, when asked if a clean DHS bill can pass without Democratic support, he said he “was not prepared to answer” that just yet. After all, we still don’t know what will come out of the Senate.
The Senate bill will be part of the policy discussions held throughout the day.
Denham said the House bill, which was passed yesterday, is heading over for debate. What are their concerns? We don’t know; “we’ve not had that discussion yet,” he said.
Asked if he spoke to Senate Republicans about it, Denham said yes. When pressed about what they had to say, the congressman simply said, “They have concern.”
He also mentioned his activities within his working group, which “for quite some time” has been discussing a comprehensive immigration bill, along with one that followed a more piecemeal approach. He also said he’s hopeful that a “real” bipartisan immigration bill will come out of the House, but “it’s going to take several months to get there.”
The Mexican government is making it easier for those living illegally inside the United States to obtain documentation necessary to take advantage of President Obama's executive amnesty. Details from AP:
The Mexican government on Thursday will start issuing birth certificates to its citizens at consulates in the United States, seeking to make it easier for them to apply for U.S. work permits, driver's licenses and protection from deportation.
Until now, Mexico has required citizens to get birth certificates at government offices in Mexico. Many of those living in the U.S. ask friends and relatives back home to retrieve them, which can delay their applications for immigration or other programs.
Now, even as Republicans in Congress try to quash President Barack Obama's reprieve to millions of immigrants living illegally in the U.S., Mexico is trying to help them apply for programs that would allow them to remain temporarily in the country and continue sending money back to relatives across the border.
In December 2014 the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced 1000 new job openings, many of them permanent and at the top tier of the federal pay scale, to process paperwork and approve applications for Obama's amnesty program.
As Conn reported yesterday, the House voted to defund Obama's executive action on illegal immigration by stripping funding for the program.
The House of Representatives passed a Department of Homeland Security spending bill Wednesday that effectively defunds President Obama's November 2014 executive amnesty program.
"The House defended its constitutional authority to make the law of the land in today’s vote to oppose President Obama’s unconstitutional executive actions on immigration," Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) said after the vote. "I am hopeful the Senate will do its job and reassert the duty of Congress to make immigration law."
An amendment offered by Rep. Rob Aderholt (R-AL) forbidding DHS from spending any money implementing Obama's Deferred Action for Parental Accountability program passed 237 to 190. The amendment specified that the spending restrictions applied to fees collected by the agency and applied to four other memos written prior to November 20.
The White House is threatening to veto that legislation. Keep in mind that the funding for Obama's executive action is coming through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, a fee, not tax based agency under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security. As I wrote last month:
Who is paying these fees? Millions of legal immigrants are paying these fees, which are now being reallocated by the executive branch to legalize millions of illegal immigrants who have been living in the United States for years while failing to go through proper and long established legal channels to obtain citizenship or other legal status.
While Mexico helps facilitate Obama's executive amnesty, thousands of legal immigrants are getting screwed with longer wait times and through their fees being used to fund the lawless. All in the name of "fairness," I'm sure.
We are deeply sorry and ashamed that we allowed that courageous writer, whose work we are praising, to show it. http://t.co/8ID0vjm9bf— Noah Rothman (@NoahCRothman) January 14, 2015
One look at the political history of Dish Network founder and Chairman Charles Ergen places the idea that the network dropped Fox News over a simple contract dispute in serious doubt.
Since Dec. 20, when the Dish network dropped Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, the former has lost about 90,000 subscribers.
The Media Research Center’s Dan Joseph decided to take a look at OpenSecrets documents revealing Ergen’s political donations from last year, which immediately raised some
As Joseph writes, Ergen’s donating record obviously doesn’t prove he is intentionally blocking Fox out of spite for his political preferences. But, that’s not all:
In 2012, a federal complaint was filed against Ergen in which several company executives alleged that he had intimidated them into making contributions to specific candidates, the majority of which were Democrats.
The claim was filed by an unnamed company insider who accused Ergen of "forcing" Dish Network’s Chief Operating Officer Bernard Han to donate to a Democratic Party candidate in the 2009/2010 election cycle.
The complaint also claimed that Han was “encouraged" to attend Democratic functions and fundraisers and that other Dish employees were strong-armed by Ergen in a similar way.
Hm, now you have to admit that is a little suspicious.
Dish contract or not, I’ll think they’ll be just fine.
Meet Liam Neeson, another entitled Hollywood actor who is perfectly fine with getting paid millions of dollars to use firearms violently in movies, while decrying their ownership for the rest of us.
"There are just too many f*cking guns out there," Neeson told Gulf News during a premiere of his latest film Taken 3 in Dubai. "Especially in America. I think the population is like, 320 million? There’s over 300 million guns. Privately owned, in America. I think it’s a f*cking disgrace."
Neeson's hypocrisy on the issue is a disgrace, not the private firearms ownership of millions of law abiding Americans. Further, aren't there just too many Liam Neeson movies out there? The answer is yes.
Rambo star Sylvester Stallone made similar comments about the need for more gun control in America last year.
Late last night the Defense Department announced five more detainees being held at Guantanamo Bay prison have been released.
The Department of Defense announced Wednesday that five Yemeni terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay had been transferred out of the facility, despite renewed concerns from lawmakers about the risks of releasing detainees.
The newly transferred prisoners had been held for more than a dozen years. The men had been cleared for release since at least 2009, but the U.S. has balked at repatriating Guantanamo prisoners back to Yemen, where the government is battling an Al Qaeda insurgency.
All five were captured in Pakistan and detained by the U.S. as suspected Al Qaeda fighters.
This release comes six months after the Obama administration's decision to swap the infamous "Taliban Five" for Army deserter Bowe Bergdahl. The Administration's GITMO strategy of releasing prisoners, many of whom are deemed high-risk, is a back-door way to shut it down. Only 122 prisoners remain.
Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte is planning to introduce legislation by the end of the week that would require the adminstration to go through Congress in order to get permission to release additional detainees.
"What is damaging is the 30 percent of Guantanamo detainees that have been released that are suspected or have actually gotten back into the battle against our soldiers and our allies. Because I think the worst thing is that our men and women in uniform ever have to confront someone we had captured before," Ayotte said in an interview with The Kelly File earlier this week. "The detainees that are being released by the administration, many of them were designated high risk. That means high risk for reengagement for terrorism. That's where the focus needs to be, not in the president trying to fulfill a campaign promise. It has to be on protecting the American people, and our troops and our allies."
Al Qaeda in Yemen has taken responsibility for planning, financing and carrying out the attack on newspaper Charlie Hebdo last week and was responsible for a recent truck bomb that killed 30 in a crowded market place.