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house Bill H.R. 709

Adding to the "Ten Deadly Sins" of IRS Employee Behavior: Don't use Your job for Political Gains

Argument in favor

Any IRS employee that treats a taxpayer differently or improperly because of their political beliefs has breached the public trust. They have proven they can't be trusted to do their job and deserve to be fired.

Cary's Opinion
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04/17/2015
Our tax collectors should be held to a high standard of behavior.
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ThomasParker's Opinion
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05/23/2015
This is incredible. As of right now, an IRS agent can't be fired for abusing their power for political reasons? You've got to be kidding me.
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Sid's Opinion
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04/29/2016
Republican or Democrat... An employee who doesn't do their job correctly should be fired... Period
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Argument opposed

The threat of losing their job may prevent IRS employees from carrying out legitimate audits on taxpayers who have political backgrounds. Plus holding threats of firing over the heads of IRS employees is bad for agency morale.

Mark's Opinion
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04/16/2015
This is another attempt to gut the IRS. Collecting taxes is a fundament role of government. Republicans hate government, so this is another backhanded attempt to hamstring the Federal government.
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akashpatelmd's Opinion
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04/15/2015
Already covered in the "Personal gain" deadly sin and this is used as a mother redundancy and waste in congres
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CSpencerBrzezinski's Opinion
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03/04/2016
The IRS discovered many cases of 501(c)4 organizations that were improperly using their tax status. These organizations were targeted because *their activities that do not constitute 501(c)4 activities* - their activity is political and not charitable. The 501(c)4 tax exemption exists so that taxpayers can subsidize charitable activities that benefit the *public good* - not political activity. Placing the blame on IRS employees is blatantly misleading and it further protects non-charitable orgs to obtain exemptions that are supposed to be solely designated for legitimate charities.
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What is House Bill H.R. 709?

This bill would add to the list of things that IRS employees can be fired for: abusing official work procedures for political purposes. Basically using their position in the IRS with political motivations — for example, auditing a political organization that they don't agree with etc. 


Currently, there is a list of 10 offenses that can lead to the firing of an IRS employee, nicknamed the “Ten Deadly Sins.” These "sins" were established in the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, and are as follows:

  • Willful failure to obtain the required approval signatures on documents authorizing the seizure of a taxpayer’s home, personal belongings or business assets.

  • Providing a false statement under oath related to a taxpayer or the taxpayer’s representative.

  • Any violation of a right set forth in the Constitution, Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 against a taxpayer, the taxpayer’s representative, or another IRS employee.

  • Falsifying or destroying documents to conceal mistakes made by an employee related to a taxpayer’s case.

  • Assault or battery (with a criminal conviction) against a taxpayer, their representative, or an IRS employee. A final judgment in a civil case related to either the assault or battery also qualifies under this provision.

  • Violations of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, Treasury Department regulations or IRS policies for the purpose of harassing or retaliating against a taxpayer, their representative, or an IRS employee.

  • Misusing the provisions of Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to conceal information from a Congressional inquiry.

  • Willful failure to file any tax return before the date prescribed to do so.

  • Willful understatement of federal tax liability.

  • Threatening to audit a taxpayer for the purpose of extracting personal gain or benefit.

You could argue that this bill is covered in that last bullet point, but this bill's sponsor doesn't want to take any chances. Although, audits aren't the only thing covered in this new provision, IRS employees would be fired for performing, delaying, or failing to perform (or threatening to do these things) for personal benefit or for a political gain. 

Impact

Politically active taxpayers who could be targeted for their beliefs, IRS employees, U.S. unemployment rates, and the IRS.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 709

$0.00
The CBO has analyzed this bill and concluded that it would not have a significant impact on the federal budget, as only a small number of IRS employees would be fired after targeting taxpayers for political purposes.

More Information

In-Depth:

In 2002, the Treasury Department asked Congress to reduce the punishment for the “Ten Deadly Sins” to give the agency more discretion when dealing with alleged offenses. The Treasury also claimed that related investigations and the threat of termination were hurting employee morale at the IRS.


Of Note:

In 2013 it was revealed that the IRS had selected groups applying for tax-exempt status for additional scrutiny based on the group’s political beliefs in the build-up to the 2012 presidential election.


While about 30 percent of the groups that had names with ‘progressive’ or ‘progress’ in their name were selected for additional review, the same audit found 100 percent of groups with ‘Tea Party’, ‘Patriots’, or ‘9/12’ in their name were subjected to the same scrutiny.


The IRS targeting controversy wasn’t the only incident in the 2012 presidential election cycle where tax returns were used for a political purpose. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) accused Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney of not having paid taxes for 10 years. He recently showed no remorse for the claim that earned him a “four Pinocchios” rating from the Washington Post, saying that “I don’t regret that at all, Romney didn’t win did he?”


Media:

Sponsoring Rep. Mike Renacci (R-OH) Press Release

CBO Cost Estimate

Forbes

Government Executive

The Blaze

Americans for Prosperity (In Favor)

Daily Caller (Previous Bill Version)


Summary by Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Flickr user SimpleIllustrations

AKA

Prevent Targeting at the IRS Act

Official Title

To provide for the termination of employment of employees of the Internal Revenue Service who take certain official actions for political purposes.

bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Finance
  • The house Passed April 15th, 2015
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Ways and Means
    IntroducedFebruary 4th, 2015

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    Our tax collectors should be held to a high standard of behavior.
    Like (36)
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    This is another attempt to gut the IRS. Collecting taxes is a fundament role of government. Republicans hate government, so this is another backhanded attempt to hamstring the Federal government.
    Like (19)
    Follow
    Share
    This is incredible. As of right now, an IRS agent can't be fired for abusing their power for political reasons? You've got to be kidding me.
    Like (14)
    Follow
    Share
    Already covered in the "Personal gain" deadly sin and this is used as a mother redundancy and waste in congres
    Like (8)
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    Share
    Republican or Democrat... An employee who doesn't do their job correctly should be fired... Period
    Like (7)
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    Share
    The IRS discovered many cases of 501(c)4 organizations that were improperly using their tax status. These organizations were targeted because *their activities that do not constitute 501(c)4 activities* - their activity is political and not charitable. The 501(c)4 tax exemption exists so that taxpayers can subsidize charitable activities that benefit the *public good* - not political activity. Placing the blame on IRS employees is blatantly misleading and it further protects non-charitable orgs to obtain exemptions that are supposed to be solely designated for legitimate charities.
    Like (7)
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    There is no need for a law to be passed for this except to make some republican beat his chest. It is clearly stated up front and in plain English that you are never to use your position as a federal employee for gain. This law is a stupid waste of time
    Like (6)
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    This is childish behavior on the part of the republicans
    Like (5)
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    Please, Congress, eliminate the current tax system for a Fair or a Flat Tax. Until then, protect us U.S. citizen taxpayers from I.R.S. employees' wrath and arrogance. NO bonuses for interrogating and penalizing more U.S. citizen taxpayers than the next I.R.S. auditor (read "accuser") does.
    Like (4)
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    Why not apply this standard to all branches of government instead of only 1 small portion of the executive branch? I suppose the obvious reason is the unfortunate reality that every member of entire Congress would be out of a job--since the only reason to run for office is to enrich yourself & your friends while passing legislation that makes you above the law. As Steven says so correctly: "Hypocrisy, where would the GOP be without it?"
    Like (4)
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    When committing fraud, don't get angry because you got caught with your hand in the cookie jar and try to turn the one who caught you into the villain. Hypocrisy, where would the GOP be without it??
    Like (4)
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    "Not a smidgen of corruption". Which is as truthful as "if you like your healthcare plan you can keep it"
    Like (3)
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    This is leadership problem, POTUS on down. Establish ROEs for how you treat taxpayers, establish checks and reviews to show the variety of audited orgs/folks are fair, establish noncompliance rules internally. If those aren't there and in place, then blame leadership, not the worker who lacks guidance.
    Like (3)
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    The argument against is ridiculous! "IRS" morale? Bunk
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    I would hope the individuals would be trained to follow the Hatch Act, however purposeful auditing of those whose views are contrary to yours is despicable. Perhaps there should be some more teeth when it comes to this type of predatory behavior
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    In theory this is a good bill but I can imagine every politically connected organization will claim this bills protection even if that organization is doing something wrong.
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    Ethically, an IRS agent should not base tax collecting on political views. This law, however, is not aimed at supporting ethical behavior- but promoting a political agenda. It also provides way to many opportunities for partisan abuse of tax laws.
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    Fire for abuse of power. This law is needless.
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    We should eliminate the IRS and have a flat tax
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    Allowing the IRS to fire an employee with a twisted motive? Sounds like this should have been covered before? Well it has. However, our childish gov. Loves to reroute meanings of legislation unless the wording is clear as day and this makes it clear as day. This wouldn't be a problem, but sadly accusations have happened in the past. This supports free thinking on the right and on the left. This just doesn't support the right -- nay Sayers.
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