The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been having some real problems lately. First they came under scrutiny for specifically targeting conservative groups and preventing them from getting a tax-exempt status. The IRS initially told us that they weren’t targeting these groups, and then backtracked by saying they were but that it was isolated to just a few rogue agents. Then they said they were targeting conservative groups, but there was also equal scrutiny of progressive groups. To no one’s surprise, all of these have proved untrue.
Now, to continue the cover-up attempt, they’re saying that former IRS official Lois Lerner’s emails have been lost forever because of an accidental hard drive crash. And it turns out that six other officials being investigated had their hard drives crash too.
Does anyone believe it now? Sounds like the old “dog ate my homework” excuse to me.
When a taxpayer files a tax return but has no documentation, should the IRS accept it? This week in a Senate Banking Committee hearing, I asked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew just that, and he says that the Administration would work around it and ask for whatever can be recovered. Really?
Right now, the only people investigating this issue are the exact people who could get in trouble as a result of it. We need someone other than the IRS to investigate the IRS, and I’ll continue to push for an outside investigation. Nobody believes that an internal IRS investigation will result in truthful answers to these questions.
Like the IRS hard drives, America’s trust in Washington is completely crashing – and situations like this only make matters worse. The IRS can start to regain any trust they may have once had by ordering an outside investigation into this case. And in the meantime, based on Secretary Lew’s response, I’ve warned the IRS there may be a lot of hard drives “crashing” before the next tax season.
David Vitter is a republican U.S. senator for the state of Louisiana.