At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal…
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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

Liberty Update

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Latest IRS Intimidation Reaffirms Need for Protections Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, March 30 2023
As the latest episode involving Mr. Taibbi illustrates, that threat to First Amendment freedoms remains as real as ever.

Imagine your reaction if Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents showed up unannounced on your doorstep.  

The IRS typically contacts taxpayers via mail, and what sense does it make to waste agents’ time by sending them out for home visits when the occupants may not even be home?  

Now imagine their stated reason was that your 2018 tax return raised identity theft suspicions, even though it had been accepted without any suggestion of concern in the ensuing five years.  

Now also imagine that the IRS visit occurred on the same day that you’re scheduled to testify before Congress on how federal authorities engaged in social media censorship during the 2020 election campaign.  

You’d be forgiven for suspecting that someone in government was trying to send you an intimidating message.  

That’s exactly what happened to Matt Taibbi, the journalist who testified alongside fellow journalist Michael Shellenberger before the House Judiciary Committee’s Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on March 9.  

The subject of their testimony, as the committee’s name suggests, was the massive and now irrefutable evidence of federal government coercion of social media companies on matters ranging from Covid to Biden family corruption:  

The original promise of the internet was that it might democratize the exchange of information globally.  A free internet would overwhelm all attempts to control information flow, its very existence a threat to anti-democratic forms of government everywhere.  What we found in the files was a sweeping effort to reverse that promise and use machine learning and other tools to turn the internet into an instrument of censorship and social control.  Unfortunately, our own government appears to be playing a lead role.  

In a letter this week to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel, Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan noted the disturbing nature of the IRS visit to Mr. Taibbi’s home while he testified.  Accordingly, under his legal authority to investigate “issues related to the violation of the civil liberties of citizens of the United States,” Chairman Jordan initiated an investigation into the matter:  

The circumstances surrounding the IRS’s unannounced and unprompted visit to Mr. Taibbi’s home, at the exact time that he was testifying to Congress about “the most serious” government abuse he has witnessed in his career as a journalist, are incredible.  The IRS’s visit is all the more concerning in light of Mr. Taibbi’s assertions that the IRS informed him the problems were not “monetary” and he had never received any prior indication of any issues with his 2018 return.  These facts demand careful examination by the Committee to determine whether the visit was a thinly-veiled attempt to influence or intimidate a witness before Congress.  

The IRS’s established history of partisan malfeasance casts this latest incident in an even more sinister light.  

This is the same IRS that leaked sensitive private taxpayer information from the National Organization for Marriage to the public in 2008, and the same IRS that deliberately targeted conservative and pro-Israel nonprofit organizations under disgraced former director Lois Lerner.  In 2015, the IRS carelessly allowed hackers to breach one of its applications, which resulted in the theft of personal data of 100,000 taxpayers.  And spanning a period of over 15 years, the far-left activist organization ProPublica accessed illegally leaked IRS tax returns on thousands of Americans, which exposed sensitive taxpayer data to untold numbers of political extremists.  

Instead of being disciplined or reformed, however, the IRS received a windfall award from the Biden Administration last year that boosted funding by $80 billion – six times its annual budget of $13 billion – and doubled its manpower by adding 87,000 new agents.  

That’s a lot of new enforcers to pay unannounced visits to people like Mr. Taibbi whose viewpoints the IRS finds disagreeable.  

Compounding matters, the Biden Administration and Congressional leftists support legislation that would expose American citizens and nonprofit organizations to persecution based upon their political beliefs by requiring them to report private contributions to the IRS.  That creates a chilling effect upon Americans’ First Amendment freedoms, according to a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court in NAACP v. Alabama (1958):  

This Court has recognized the vital relationship between freedom to associate and privacy in one’s associations.  Compelled disclosure of membership in an organization engaged in advocacy of particular beliefs is of the same order.  Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.  

As the latest episode involving Mr. Taibbi illustrates, that threat to First Amendment freedoms remains as real as ever.  

Instead of empowering the IRS and similar bureaucracies across the nation, courts and elected officials must recognize the risk they pose to our civil liberties and bring their abuses under control.

Notable Quote   
 
"Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Democrats have tipped their hand to their desire to unleash noncitizen voting by opposing his state's citizenship verification in court and he is urging elections chiefs in other states to fight such lawsuits.Georgia's citizenship verification system has prevented noncitizens from getting on state voter rolls, but the state had to defend it in court…[more]
 
 
— Natalia Mittelstadt, Just the News
 
Liberty Poll   

Which would be the most useful for voters: a televised presidential debate that only includes Trump and Biden or one that adds Kennedy?