Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

July 4, 2014

DAN COATS: Internal Revenue Service must be held accountable

It should restore trust with U.S. taxpayers

Hoosiers frequently tell me that they are frustrated by the way Washington exempts itself from the same requirements our government puts on hard-working citizens.

As a result, a huge trust deficit exists between the American people and Washington. One of the latest scandals that reinforces this lack of trust is the ongoing investigation into the Internal Revenue Service.

It has been said that no agency in Washington is less forgiving than the IRS. If you are audited, the burden of proof is on you. You must provide the records to back up your financial situation. You are guilty until you prove your innocence.

However, the IRS itself continues to stonewall Congress and operate with a remarkable lack of transparency. In 2010, when the IRS targeted conservative groups — including at least one in Indiana — for extra scrutiny based on their political leanings, the agency displayed a stunning abuse of power and complete disregard for our Constitution.

The IRS should be apolitical, not a partisan watchdog. Neither those who make the law nor those who enforce the law are above the law. But nearly a year since this scandalous abuse of the law became public, we still do not have the answers on why this targeting occurred. As each day passes, it becomes less likely that the truth will ever come out.

Lois Lerner, the former director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit and the official at the center of the ongoing congressional investigation, refuses to testify before Congress. In recent testimony before Congress, IRS Commissioner John Koskinen claimed that the hard drive belonging to Lerner crashed in 2011. According to Koskinen, tens of thousands of her emails dating to 2009 were destroyed and permanently lost.

To claim that two years of emails, which the IRS is required by law to archive, were completely and inadvertently lost is laughable on its face. Even though we live in a day and age where virtually nothing ever disappears from the Internet, the IRS wants us to believe that these emails are lost for good.

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