The IRS Skill Set

Steven T. Miller was the right man for the right job to target Tea Party organizations – and Secretary of the Treasury Jack Lew had to know it.  If Lew knew it, then Obama knew it.

Steven T. Miller resigned yesterday (although he only had two weeks to go in his term) as Acting Commissioner of Internal Revenue and Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement.  As Acting Commissioner, he presided over the nation’s tax system, which collects approximately $2.4 trillion in tax revenue that funds most government operations and public service. The IRS is comprised of about 90,000 employees, some of whom will be assigned to Health Care Collection duty.  The IRS has a budget of more than $12 billion.

When recruiting someone for a job, it’s important that they have the right skill set.  I went for a job interview yesterday with a big corporation, thinking they wanted someone with good communications skills when what they wanted was someone with design skills.  While I’m pretty good with PhotoShop, I know SharePoint, and I’ve been studying InDesign via a DVD tutorial, frankly I have no actual experience designing.  I’m a writer and a photographer.  This company wanted a designer and it’s not likely that I’ll get the job (I alerted a former colleague who is a designer about the position).

What did Jack Lew and Obama want out of their Acting Commissioner of Internal Revenue and Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement when they appointed him in November of last year?  And why didn’t they appoint him permanently?  Why was the job I interviewed for only a temporary position?

Let’s take a look at Miller’s IRS bio and find out what made him such a perfect fit for the position.  They begin with his current duties.

“As Acting Commissioner, Miller will continue to emphasize the necessity of maintaining a balance between taxpayer service and tax enforcement. His goals for the IRS are improving service to make voluntary compliance easier for taxpayers while at the same time enforcing the law to make sure everyone meets their obligation to pay the taxes they owe.

“As Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement, Miller provides direction and oversight for all major decisions affecting the four taxpayer-focused IRS Divisions: Wage and Investment, Large Business and International, Small Business/Self-Employed, and Tax Exempt and Government Entities. He also provides the executive direction and leadership for the IRS Criminal Investigation Division, which investigates income tax evasion and related financial crimes; the IRS Office of Professional Responsibility, which administers the laws and regulations governing the practice of tax professionals before the IRS; and the IRS Whistleblower Office, which receives information on tax cheating and provides appropriate rewards to whistleblowers. 

“Provides appropriate ‘rewards’ to whistleblower.’  There’s an interesting job description for you.

“Prior to his appointment as the Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement, Steve served as the Commissioner of the Large Business and International Division.  In this position, he had oversight for federal tax administration for domestic and foreign corporations and partnerships with assets of $10 million or more that have a United States tax filing requirement.  Previously, as the Commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, Steve oversaw the administration of tax law relating to employee plans, tax-exempt organizations and various government entities.  Steve also served as the Director of Exempt Organizations and as the acting Assistant Commissioner and Special Assistant to the Assistant Commissioner, Employee Plans/Exempt Organizations.  Other prior service includes several years in Chief Counsel, serving as a Congressional staff member for the Joint Committee on Taxation and work in private practice. 

Steve graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, a Juris Doctor degree from George Washington University, and a Master of Laws degree in taxation from Georgetown University Law School.

 

The very first IRS Commissioner lasted about as long as Miller did:  George S. Boutwell.  He took office on July 17, 1862 and left office March 4, 1863.  His successor had a little better luck with the job, after two weeks, he was officially appointed Commissioner for two years.  The next guy in line was another temporary, William Orton, July 1, 1865 to Oct. 31, 1865.

The Act of 1862 established the office of Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The Commissioner was given the power to assess, levy, and collect taxes, and the right to enforce the tax laws through seizure of property and income and through prosecution. The powers and authority remain very much the same today.

Tea Parties, Patriot organizations, 9/12 Glenn Beck Projects and pro-Israel organizations didn’t exist at that time.  But other charities did.  Notice Miller’s specialty:  “Previously, as the Commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, Steve oversaw the administration of tax law relating to employee plans, tax-exempt organizations and various government entities.  Steve also served as the Director of Exempt Organizations and as the acting Assistant Commissioner and Special Assistant to the Assistant Commissioner, Employee Plans/Exempt Organizations.”

There’s the man for you.  The revenue collector for tax-exempt organizations.  As far as the IRS is considered, there’s really no such thing as an organization that is exempt from taxes.  Tax-exempt organizations have an income threshold, usually about $10,000, which they’re allowed to use without having to pay taxes on the money.  But, the organization has to account for every penny it spends, and there are numerous things the money cannot be spent on.  Some are obvious, like Tea Party vacations.

The Bloomingdale Cornet Band, the band I play with, incorporated, and our secretary/treasurer had to make an annual report.  The form certainly was long, as I recall, but it wasn’t 55 pages and it didn’t ask what music we played or what our members’ political affiliations were.

Miller claims he was just being “thorough.”  After all, it wasn’t his fault if Tea Party/Patriot/9-12 projects and pro-Israel groups outnumbered other charities.  We are quite numerous, which worried Obama.  He had to find a way to thwart our growing numbers.  The Media helped but discovered that the Tea Parties didn’t need the Media’s help to get their message across.

That must have been when Lew suggested Miller to Obama as his successor.  The election was over; it was Nov. 12.  Obama was officially a lame duck president and he couldn’t be hurt politically by such an appointment.  Miller had his orders and carried them out.  However, the Tea Parties were being targeted by the IRS long before Miller’s appointment.  Thus, logic would indicate that the word was about to go public and Obama needed a straw man to take the fall for him.  Who better than a revenue collector whose specialty was strong-arming non-profit groups.

Obama could then claim “outrage” and disgust at such unprofessional behavior on the part of the IRS.  What the heck; they already have a bad name amongst Americans.  Keep in mind, the IRS didn’t invent the income tax.  In 1913, the 16th Amendment to the Constitution made the income tax a permanent fixture in the U.S. tax system. The amendment gave Congress legal authority to tax income and resulted in a revenue law that taxed incomes of both individuals and corporations. In fiscal year 1918, annual internal revenue collections for the first time passed the billion-dollar mark, rising to $5.4 billion by 1920. With the advent of World War II, employment increased, as did tax collections—to $7.3 billion. The withholding tax on wages was introduced in 1943 and was instrumental in increasing the number of taxpayers to 60 million and tax collections to $43 billion by 1945.  The 16th Amendment was the creature of Pres. Woodrow Wilson.  Wilson’s bio in the World Almanac 2013 makes no note of that particular fact; Obama’s bio takes up three-quarters of the page.

Members of the Tea Parties and other groups have a certain skill set, too.  Far from being street theater activists, they nevertheless have the ability to organize, with relatively little money.  They’re experienced in organizing countless events from weddings, birthday and anniversary parties, to office parties, departmental meetings and even huge convention center conferences.

They’re well-educated, particularly their older members.  They pay property taxes, so it’s personal for them.  Those who work are privately employed; their employers pay taxes as well.  They know their way around the Internet; that’s how they organized, initially.  Once they made contact, then they met.

Finally, most of them have children.  Unlike the feminists who abort their inconvenient children, Tea Partiers have a stake in the future.  They’re willing to put in on the line for their grandkids.  Their kids aren’t so sure because of the self-esteem/peer pressure indoctrination they faced.  Unlike their World War II generation parents or grandparents, they don’t know what it’s like to fight for freedom.  They would say Civil Rights was a righteous cause, which it was.  But in fighting that battle, we signed away a good deal of our freedom.

The government can’t be caught shedding blood; not yet, anyway.  The best tactic is to hit the enemy in the pocketbook first.  Fining an adversary, and the more drastic method of even imprisoning them, plays better on the nightly news.  The only evidence is a bunch of older suburbanites carrying signs accusing the government of doing just what they’re doing.  Well, why do you think we were carrying signs, right in front of whatever cameras showed up at our rallies?  Was a television news crew likely to come to someone’s house and watch as they wrote a check out, as a representative of their group, to the IRS?

The grilling of Miller is gratifying.  But it’s still theater and Obama is still running the show.

 

 

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Published in: on May 17, 2013 at 1:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

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