INVESTIGATION

Conduct an impartial probe of the IRS’ taxing evasion

 
 
MCT
MCT
Mike Hopp / MCT

haguirreferre@gmail.com

Back in the darker days of Chicago when guns and gangsters first ruled, Al Capone was king. Known for his violent temper and for a peculiar sense of fair play — “my way or the highway” — Capone was responsible for dozens of murders and was, perhaps, most notorious for the 1929 Valentine’s Day Massacre. Seven members of the rival Bugs Moran gang were murdered while Capone vacationed in Miami Beach.

The mobster was Chicago’s Public Enemy No. 1. He ultimately served time in jail, but not for murder. Law enforcement’s big “gotcha!” came by way of tax evasion; where police and the FBI were unsuccessful, the IRS triumphed.

Through Capone, the IRS developed a fearsome reputation for swift law and order. It is still feared today, but not because it stands for law and order but because it has become a weapon of political retribution. A cloud of scandal and cover-up hovers over the agency, which is being investigated for abuse of power. It has since exploded into a scandal within a scandal.

The original accusation against the IRS was that it was targeting conservative organizations that were established under tax-exempt status. Congress subpoenaed Lois Lerner, who at the time was the IRS’ director of exempt organizations, to appear at a special congressional hearing when information surfaced that she had declared at an American Bar Association meeting that her department was, in fact, investigating organizations with tea-party identifications. Lerner invoked the 5th Amendment as protection against self-incrimination.

This month, Congress learned that Lerner’s hard drive containing important evidence from her email from 2009 to 2011 malfunctioned and has been melted down for recycled parts. How convenient for partisans in the Obama administration to behave suspiciously and “green” at the same time.

Would the IRS let a taxpayer off the hook for not filing an income-tax return because a computer virus erased relevant information? It is unlikely.

Currently, there are six ongoing investigations of the IRS — four by congressional committees, one by the Department of Justice and one by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. There are serious implications of government abuse against individuals as well as organizations. Just ask Adryana Boyne.

Boyne and her husband were among the founders of Voces, a conservative Hispanic educational outreach program that supplied copies of the Constitution, for example, to people who were studying to pass the exam for U.S. citizenship in Texas. They applied for 501(c) tax-exempt status in June 2009 and did not receive a response until late 2010.

“They sent me a 27-page exhaustive questionnaire that required I submit all of my speeches, presentations, name all of my friends involved in politics and the number of times we met. They wanted details about personal conversations I had with my friends,” Boyne explained during an interview on my show Zona Politica on Univision America radio.

Additionally, everything had to be submitted within two weeks or else the application would be terminated. Boyne dropped the application request rather than comply. “I have no doubt that this was politically motivated,” says Boyne.

Boyne and her colleagues with Voces were being targeted for their political beliefs. There can be no other conclusion after examining the case, which appears not to be an isolated one. It represents a dangerous precedent.

If the administration — through the IRS — has issues with the current criteria for assigning tax-exempt status, it should raise it with Congress, the elected officials who charged with establishing tax policy. Partisan government workers should play no role in that debate; nor should they try to circumvent investigations aimed at getting to the truth.

For many, paying taxes is a painful process, but it is done in the belief that it serves an ultimate good. Once that good faith is breached, everything begins to fall apart. That is why it is so important that this investigation be done with all the due diligence and political impartiality possible on all sides. This will better protect the integrity of our institutions and, most important, our faith in good government which, poll after poll indicates, is waning.

Read more Other Views stories from the Miami Herald

  • CONGRESS

    Senators earn an ‘A’ for sexual assault bill

    Sen. Marco Rubio doesn’t have much time for Democrats. But he does have two daughters. And so it was that Wednesday morning, he found himself standing in solidarity with a bipartisan group of senators that included Democrats Kirsten Gillibrand and Claire McCaskill as they announced legislation to curb the scourge of sexual assault on U.S. campuses.

  •  
 <span class="cutline_leadin">HARASSMENT:</span> Members of the Ladies in White opposition movement, relatives of imprisoned dissidents who draw inspiration from their faith, were arrested during a peaceful march in Havana last month.

    HUMAN RIGHTS

    Support religious freedom in Cuba

    This year marks the 55th anniversary of Cuba’s current government and July 26 commemorated the 61st anniversary of the revolution which swept it into power. After coming to power, the Castro government broke its pro-democracy pledges and, despite recent improvements, maintains a problematic record on human rights, including religious freedom.

  •  
SOLOW

    MIGRANT CRISIS

    Easy fix to offer relief to immigration courts

    Much has been written about the strain placed on the immigration court system by the recent influx of minors from Central America. A little known fact about the Immigration Court system, unlike every court in the land, virtually no immigration court cases are resolved without a hearing.

Miami Herald

Join the
Discussion

The Miami Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Miami Herald uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here.

Have a news tip? You can send it anonymously. Click here to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

Hide Comments

This affects comments on all stories.

Cancel OK

  • Marketplace

Today's Circulars

  • Quick Job Search

Enter Keyword(s) Enter City Select a State Select a Category