Congress probes breach of O’Donnell tax records – but law protects IRS

Congress probes breach of O’Donnell tax records – but law protects IRS

[Ed. – Just to clarify, you and an IRS employee are not equal before the law.]

Powerful committees in both chambers of Congress now want answers to questions surrounding Christine O’Donnell’s personal tax records and whether the Delaware Republican’s private information was illegally accessed and ultimately used in an effort to derail her 2010 U.S. Senate bid. …

Congressional hearings, however, may be unlikely. Ways and Means sources and outside legal analysts say the IRS tax code prevents the disclosure of any information related to cases like Ms. O’Donnell‘s.

Even Ms. O’Donnell herself will not be briefed on what either congressional committee discovers, as the federal government asserts that tax law goes so far as to shield its own employees from being exposed publicly if they are engaged in willful targeting or other wrongdoing.

Only the chairmen of the investigating committees — Rep. Dave Camp, the Michigan Republican who heads Ways and Means, and Sen. Max Baucus, the outgoing Montana Democrat who heads the Senate finance panel — can learn exactly what happened in a case such as Ms. O’Donnell‘s.

By law, they are unable to reveal what they discover.

“The IRS takes a position that they don’t have to tell you the wrongdoing by their own agency and employees because of the protections that are supposed to be afforded to the taxpayer are then reversed and afforded to the IRS employee. This is a big problem. This agency is a big problem,” said Cleta Mitchell, a Washington lawyer who has sued the IRS on behalf of the National Organization for Marriage and has worked with tea party groups who claim they were singled out by the government.

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