Late last week, an IRS inspector general report uncovered a troublesome habit of the Internal Revenue Service targeting groups which included names such as “Patriot”, “9/12”, “Tea Party”, or which criticize the government in paperwork filed with the agency. The targeted groups (numbering in excess of 100) received greater scrutiny than others with different political views. Even more troublesome is that top leaders knew about the political targeting of conservative groups going back to 2011 and did nothing to stop it. Last Friday, the IRS apologized.
On the surface, this seems like an alarming revelation but is it really surprising? Claims that the IRS has been prone to intimidating political opponents are nothing new and have occurred under both parties. Most noteworthy are the famous claims that the Nixon administration used tax audits against political enemies. More recently, it was alleged Koch Industries (whose leadership has ties to conservative groups) had its tax records improperly accessed by a senior Obama administration official who disclosed confidential information about the company on a conference call with journalists. The IRS has a history of using its power to intimidate political opponents. There is nothing new under the sun. But that does not mean it is excusable. It is yet one more example of why the IRS should not exist in the first place.
The IRS is a destructive force at its core. As Daniel Webster said on behalf of the second Bank of the United States in McCulloch v. Maryland in 1819, “[T]he power to tax is the power to destroy.” That makes it all the more concerning that the power of the IRS continues to grow greater and greater now that it is charged with enforcement of the individual health care mandate in the Affordable Care Act. Can Americans feel confident about the objectivity of the IRS with recent reports of selective scrutiny based on political ideology? Should this agency be given yet more power as a reward for its assault on free speech?
Americans should certainly not feel confident about the IRS or its objectivity. If the power to tax is the power to destroy, then the IRS is quite simply a freedom destroying enterprise. Its entire existence is predicated on raiding the wealth of the private sector in order to feed the beast of an unproductive government. And it is no surprise that the IRS would take particular note of organizations which philosophically oppose its mission of wealth destruction.
The actions of the IRS ought to be enough to wake up reasonable Americans to ask if there is not a better way. This is not so much a partisan issue but a structural problem with the enforcement of an income tax itself. The majority of our nation’s history has occurred without a tax on income – without this desire to destroy wealth and without bureaucratic bullies targeting those who dare to speak out against this racket. There are a multitude of alternatives to raise revenue and – more importantly – reduce the need for revenue by curtailing the size and scope of government. In any case, something must be done to ensure the American people do not have to fear reprisals from their government for exercising their fundamental right to freedom of speech. Recent events merely reinforce the need to eradicate this cancer entirely from a nation that otherwise desires to be free. Let us abolish the IRS once and for all. End it; don’t mend it.