Former Commissioner Who Covered Up Tea Party Scandal Loves Biden's New IRS Empowerment Plan

Posted: May 05, 2021 1:00 PM
Former Commissioner Who Covered Up Tea Party Scandal Loves Biden's New IRS Empowerment Plan

Source: (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

Former IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who preceded disgraced Commissioner Lois Lerner, is proudly endorsing President Joe Biden's new tax plan, which empowers and vastly grows the agency. 

"The Biden proposal includes provisions on third-party reporting, leveraging information from financial services providers to learn basic information about account inflows and outflows. This information could assist taxpayers in filing accurate returns and help the IRS better focus collection efforts. Research shows that when the IRS has access to third-party reporting, compliance rates top 95 percent. Without third-party information reporting, compliance rates are below 50 percent. Reliable information is critical to an effective and fair tax system," Koskinen wrote with four other former commissioners for The Washington Post. "These advancements will promote voluntary compliance and assist the IRS in targeting enforcement activities — decreasing the frequency of costly 'no change' audits for compliant taxpayers."

The commissioners argue Biden's tax plan will allow the IRS to more efficiently help Americans with problems or audits, but it really allows the federal government to snoop on Venmo accounts and other forms of payment between individuals. 

Given Koskinen's history of abusing IRS power and covering up the agency's targeting of Tea Party groups in 2010, his backing of Biden's plans to expand the bureaucracy isn't surprising. 

A reminder of the targeting

Last year emails revealed former IRS official Lois Lerner was in contact with the Department of Justice Criminal Division about criminally prosecuting conservative tea party groups for pursuing political activity (opposed to President Obama's agenda) by "posing" as non-profit organizations. 

Now, new documents obtained by government watchdog Judicial Watch through two different Freedom of Information Act lawsuits show extensive collaboration between the IRS and DOJ (and subsequently the FBI) to go after conservative groups with criminal charges. The IRS likely violated federal law by illegally sharing 1.25 million pages of taxpayer information with DOJ, which were contained on nearly two dozen FBI backup tapes. Further, information shows DOJ wanted IRS officials who were scheduled to testify in front of Congress about the targeting scandal to turn over planned remarks to them first before delivering on Capitol Hill.

The IRS wasn't simply sending the DOJ information, Lerner herself was meeting with DOJ officials to discuss pursuing criminal charges.

During a 2014 House Oversight Committee hearing about the scandal, Koskinen said he does not believe "an apology is owed" to groups who were falsely targeted for political purposes. After the scandal broke Koskinen told Congress, whose Republican members subpoenaed IRS documentation, that thousands of emails and Lerner's hard drive were destroyed. The IRS also deleted back up tapes of the information. 

According to new information from the House Oversight Committee, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration [TIGTA] Russell George and Deputy Inspector General for Investigations Tim Camus, the IRS deleted hundreds of backup tapes containing thousands of emails belonging to former IRS official Lois Lerner, the woman at the center of the conservative targeting scandal. The tapes were destroyed nine months after a congressional subpoena was issued to the agency demanding they be preserved and turned over.

Lerner and Koskinen were never punished for targeting conservative groups or for covering up the scandal. Lerner retired with full government benefits in 2013 and received a number of taxpayer funded bonuses during her time at the agency. Koskinen left the IRS in 2017. President Joe Biden was Vice President at the time of the targeting.