The scandal involving the IRS, Lois Lerner, and missing emails has not gone quietly away. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has recently gotten into very hot water in a lawsuit involving IRS targeting of conservative groups. On July 27, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz called on President Obama to remove Koskinen, who might face impeachment. Tax Attorney Rob Wood discusses the matter in this report, based on his Forbes article “Obama Is Urged To Fire IRS Chief Before Impeachment Looms.”
Wood notes at the outset that it is “not very likely” that the president will remove Koskinen. The political firestorm over the “targeting” of conservative groups by the IRS has raged on for two years at this point. Wood suggests that Koskinen’s handling of the problem and unapologetic stance have won him no friends. However, Wood says that President Obama is unlikely to remove Koskinen and feels that Koskinen is unlikely to resign on his own.
As to the targeting of conservative 501(c)(4) groups, Wood says the issue has become “sort of a he said she said” situation. Wood has no doubt that Lois Lerner had her agency giving close scrutiny to conservative groups. There were Democratic concerns ever since the Citizens United case that conservative groups would develop much more funding. “Something had to be done” was the conventional wisdom, Wood suggests. Conservative groups have not let go of the issue in large part because there has been no suggestion of apology from the IRS. The concern is that the IRS should not be a political tool of any presidential administration (whether or not this has in fact occurred).
When the dust settles, if it does, Wood “is not sure that anyone will be” held accountable for what happened. The hue and cry has passed, and the impetus for holding someone responsible has passed. However, Wood notes, there has not been a final resolution of possible criminal charges as a result of the targeting scandal. Lois Lerner apparently will not be charged. There may be more to come, but Wood notes that attention is now mostly focused on the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. Wood finds it “really distressing that the IRS, which is by and large a very good organization . . ., has been maligned.” For IRS employees, the situation must be demoralizing.
As to previous IRS scandals, Wood says that some political activity on the part of the agency apparently occurred during the administration of Richard Nixon. That is the only real comparison that is being drawn, and it is not a flattering one for the Obama administration.
For more information on the subject, please refer to Mr. Wood’s article in Forbes. Robert Wood is a tax attorney with Wood, LLP in San Francisco, California and spoke with The Tax Law Channel, an affiliate of The Legal Broadcast Network. The Legal Broadcast Network is a featured network of the Sequence Media Group.