The significance of the IRS vendetta against conservative groups

By Tom Quiner

The IRS admits it.

They targeted the Tea Party and other conservative groups last year with audits and excessive hoops to jump through.

The letters “IRS” strike fear into the hearts of most Americans, at least those who file tax returns. They know the IRS can hurt you.

Conservatives are quick to suspect that the order to harass conservatives came from the top.

Is this true? Who know? Perhaps time will tell, but we’ll probably never know.

Besides, I’m not sure that’s even the biggest issue. Look at how far we’ve come, how far the idea of limited government has regressed. A majority of the American public fear the federal government. They are big and powerful. They are unresponsive. They can hurt us.

When we invoke those words, “we the people,” I’m not sure that we really trust the federal government as being part of the “we” anymore.

Frankly, I don’t trust Republicans any more than Democrats when it comes to improperly wielding government power.

So, is there anything we could do about the IRS? Keep in mind, they do have a legitimate role to play in any system that taxes people based on their income.

My solution? Repeal the 16th Amendment which allowed Congress to impose an income tax. Then replace the tax code with a Fair Tax.

This would reduce the state’s power over us, and yet still provide them with the means to collect revenue for the running of the appropriate functions of government.

The fair tax is a national sales tax on all consumption. The idea is to eliminate all other taxes and replace it with one tax on every item you purchase.  The rate that has been bandied about is 18 percent.  So, if you purchased a hundred dollars of groceries, you’d pay an $18 national sales tax on top of the local sales tax. In Iowa, that rate is six percent, so your net tax payment would be $24 in this example.

As with any taxing scheme, there are pros and cons. The biggest pro in my mind is this: taxpayers would feel the pain of taxation with every single purchase, which is an excellent way to deter excessive taxation by elected officials. As it stands now, the government takes money from your paycheck before you ever get it, so you’re not as aware of the pain of taxation.

The problem is that Congress could implement some other new tax down the road on top of the Fair Tax and we’re back to square one. And although the Fair Tax would make it tougher for Congress to increase taxes, that may not slow down their spending habits.

Nonetheless, I like any idea that weakens the ability of the partisans running the federal government from using the clout of the federal government against their political opponents.


  1. David M. Green on May 12, 2013 at 11:15 am

    Don’t worry Tom the time will come when conservatives will once again have the chance to ignore and abuse the laws of the land; just as they always have and always will whenever the GOP holds the reins of power.

    • quinersdiner on May 12, 2013 at 1:21 pm

      As I mentioned in my piece, David, I don’t trust Republicans either. Power corrupts. Checks and balances are critical. By the same token, there hare many honorable men and women of both parties who serve. Thanks for writing.

  2. josephrathjen on May 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm

    I totally agree with you about instituting a “check and balance” system, so agencies like the one you mentioned have to supply documentation, and provide a bonafide reason for initiating such investigations against certain groups as a whole – like going to a judge to obtain a search warrant. After all, isn’t an act like that similar to an organized conspiracy investigation?

    I’m not so sure about the “fair tax” proposal, but you have captured my interest. I’m just curious about one thing though. Usually when an agency like the IRS comes out and publicly volunteers an apology for a wrongdoing, it’s usually to offset something deeper churning away in the background. I’m not a conspiracist, but I wonder if we have yet to hear the last of this.

    Good article!

    • quinersdiner on May 12, 2013 at 1:23 pm

      You make a pretty interesting point, Joseph. There may be more come out on this story. Although I am not an Obama supporter, I very much hope that this story does NOT reach high up into the administration. The Fair Tax is very much worth learning more about. I gave a superficial description of it. I believe the upside to the plan outweighs the downside. Thanks for writing.

    • tannngl on May 13, 2013 at 12:01 pm

      I understand there is an IG report on the IRS and this very issue coming out this week. There will be more to this; at least the news that they targeted Jewish people, orgs that supported Israel as well as Tea party, conservative orgs and those teaching the Constitution. There was also the admission that the IRS person in charge of charitable orgs knew about this ‘IRS focussing’ thing back in 2010-summer of 2010-remember? when the Tea Parties were causing so much activity challenging the senators and representatives who were going to vote for Obama care? And Tea Party caused the biggest back lash in that November election!

      Fair tax in most instances will decrease everyone’s taxes, doing away with income tax, which none of us even notice. We’ll be surprised how much more money we’ll have and can spend part on a national sales tax. Everyone will pay the sales tax, even criminals who never paid income tax before. The more you buy, the more you pay in sales tax. The only problem with this is it may stall capitalism.

      • quinersdiner on May 13, 2013 at 7:03 pm

        “The only problem with this is it may stall capitalism.”

        I do think this is a legitimate concern. Thanks for writing.

  3. josephrathjen on May 13, 2013 at 11:17 pm

    Ha…we were right,Tom. All hell’s broke loose in Washington today over the IRS scandal. Notice how quickly Obama is promising to roll some heads? Watch them start falling like dominos….

    • quinersdiner on May 13, 2013 at 11:22 pm

      Sure seems that way. Team Obama is really on the defensive right now. I kind of like that for a change.