IRS Nightmares Get Senate Hearing
Finance panel hears from parade of witnesses critical of tax agency
By Thomas H. Moore/AllPolitics
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Sep. 24) -- Senators looking into alleged IRS abuses produced a long parade of witnesses who described Gestapo-like tactics employed by the tax agency.
"You don't eat, you don't sleep, you're afraid to talk too much to each other for fear you will take it out on your spouse," a tearful Katherine Hicks of Apple Valley, Calif., told the Senate Finance Committee. "If you do talk, it's about the IRS."
Hicks wrote to Congress for help in her fight against the IRS, though friends advised her not to. "One person ... said, 'That is like painting a bull's-eye on your chest and giving the IRS a loaded gun.' She believes the IRS will never forget this and the IRS is judge, jury and executioner, answerable to none," Hicks said. (448K wav sound)
"An agency of the U.S. government ... should be held to highest standards of honesty and integrity," Hicks said. "The IRS is not."
Even current IRS employees took some swings at the agency.
"As of late we seem to be auditing only poor people," said IRS agent Jennifer Long. "The current IRS management does not believe anyone in this country can possibly live on less than $20,000 a year, insisting that anyone below that level must be cheating by understating their true income. (480K wav sound)
"Currently, in a typical case assigned for audit, there are no assets, no signs of wealth, no evidence that would support a suspicion of higher unreported income. So when the IRS does initiate an audit on these people, these individuals were already only one short step away from being on the street," Long continued.
"I can personally attest to the use of egregious tactics used by IRS revenue agents which are encouraged by members of the IRS management," Long said. "These tactics, which appear nowhere in the IRS manual, are used to extract unfairly assessed taxes from taxpayers, literally ruining families lives and businesses, all unnecessarily and sometimes illegally."
The IRS denies allegations that it targets lower- and middle-income individuals because those cases are easier to win.
The panel also heard from former IRS historian Shelley Davis, author of a book about the agency, "Unbridled Power."
Davis described the IRS as "the best secret-keeping agency in our government today. They are better than the CIA, better than the FBI."
She elaborated on the reasons she grew disillusioned with the way the IRS goes about its business. "I discovered that the IRS does keep lists of American citizens for no reason other than that their political activities might have offended someone at the IRS; about how the IRS believes that anyone who offer