Engraved Pens, First Class Flights and Presidential Suites

The Internal Revenue Service spent an eye-watering $4.1 million of government money on a 2010 training conference in California, handing out cocktails, engraved pens and room upgrades to the managers who attended.

A report released on Tuesday by the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration reveals the staggering list of gifts lavished on the 2,609 employees at the conference in Anaheim.

The report found that ‘questionable expenses’ comprised much of the budget, including imprinted bags, travel mugs and one keynote speaker who painted celebrities’ portraits on stage for $17,000.

 
Lavish: A report has revealed that the Internal Revenue Service spent a staggering $4.1 million on a 2010 training conference in Anaheim. Many of the 2,000 guests stayed at the Hilton (hotel file picture)Lavish: A report has revealed that the Internal Revenue Service spent a staggering $4.1 million on a 2010 training conference in Anaheim. Many of the 2,000 guests stayed at the Hilton (hotel file picture)

The three-day conference on ‘Leading into the Future’ was held in August 2010 for managers in the tax agency’s small-business and self-employed division with approval from top agency officials.

The 2,609 managers stayed at the Sheraton, Hilton and Marriott hotels, and the IRS paid $135 per room per night. Among the attendees, 45 lived locally yet the agency still paid for hotel rooms.

At the hotels, 132 suite upgrades were provided each night of the conference, ranging from $299 to $1,000 per room per night. Some managers stayed in two-bedroom presidential suites at the Hilton.

CNN noted that the IRS used event planners rather than its own staff to organize the event, meaning that there was no incentive to get lower hotel room rates. The two planners were each paid $66,500 commission by the hotels.

While attending the conference, staff could choose from up to 23 different workshops – called ‘knowledge portals’. The 15 outside speakers at the events earned a total of $135,350.

One was paid $17,000 for creating paintings of celebrities on stage to show that ‘the thought process to find creative solutions to challenges’, CNN reported.

Continue Reading

David Axelrod is Right

by: the Common Constitutionalist

 

We have been presented with the opportunity of a lifetime and that’s not hyperbole.

To paraphrase David Axelrod: the government is so “vast” it’s impossible to know what’s going on.

That’s probably the only intelligent thing he has ever uttered.

Well, he’s absolutely right. It’s gotten so large and out-of-control that it requires storm trooper like tactics to control the flow of the vast amount of money collected to run it.

Now we’ve learned that the collection department, the IRS, has been targeting groups that oppose the administration.

As an aside – if this scandal is what has surfaced, it’s a cinch there is much more that hasn’t. Just an observation.

Anyone who has been audited knows it may be the most stressful and painful experience this side of childbirth (or so I’ve heard). I thought the government was supposed to work for and be accountable to us, not the other way around.

So for this and a myriad of other reasons, the IRS should be abolished.

We on the right have been putting forth this tired refrain for decades, but there will never be a better chance than now to start advancing this notion.

We could learn a little from the left. “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. Well, this is a crisis we must not squander.

But the government needs money to operate, you say. You might add that without the threat of IRS persecution (and I do mean persecution), no one would ever pay their taxes.

Nonsense. Other than the most rabid antigovernment lunatics, virtually all citizens are willing to pay.

Most citizens just want the collection to be fair and transparent. The current system is neither (and that is deliberate). As Marco Rubio might say: “let’s bring those who do not pay taxes ‘out of the shadows’.”

The only truly fair and transparent tax is the consumption tax, not the flat tax. Yes, a national sales tax, but let’s not call it that. People already dislike sales taxes.

A flat tax is still based on income thus is not fair. Not everyone will pay and everyone should pay, at least a little. Skin in the game at all that.

One can still cheat the flat tax system by simply hiding their income. The consumption tax is fair and less apt to be corrupted. Black markets will only spring up if the rate is too high.

Of course the consumption tax would have to be an amendment, not just simply a law and take the place of the 16th amendment, which would have to be repealed first.

The consumption tax is also the epitome of a free-market system. It is also, with few exceptions, the only purely an absolutely voluntary tax. If you don’t wish to pay the tax, don’t purchase the item or service.

It would also take care of those pesky nonprofit tax-free organizations. No one would be tax-free because everyone and every organization must purchase things.

And how much money could corporations and organizations save by simply closing up K Street and not having to beg and bribe Congress for tax breaks?

Simply put, the lefty wizards of smart have admitted that the government has become too large to manage. They have also admitted that they are a bunch of bungling incompetents. Of course they did so, figuring no one will demand change. I’m sure they think; give it a couple of weeks and the scandals will be forgotten.

The current tax system is tyranny and the IRS tyrannical. However, impossible as the task may sound, it must commence sometime. As I stated; there may never be a better opportunity.

“Tyranny, like Hell, is not easily conquered, yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph”, Thomas Paine, 1776.

Levin Pressured IRS

Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.) repeatedly pressed the Internal Revenue Service to investigate the tax-exempt status of specific conservative nonprofit organizations in letters to then-IRS commissioner Doug Shulman and director Lois Lerner in 2012.

Levin said he was concerned nonprofit organizations were abusing their tax-exempt status and engaging in partisan politics and requested information from the IRS on 12 organizations.

“Organizations are using Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(4) to gain tax exempt status while engaging in partisan political campaigns,” wrote Levin in one letter on July 27, 2012. “Making the problem worse is that the IRS knows there is a problem because of the public nature of the activity but has failed to address it.”

He asked whether the 12 organizations “applied for [tax-exempt status]; and if so … received the described exemption for political activity from the IRS.”

Levin’s list contained nine conservative groups, including Club for Growth, Americans for Tax Reform, and Americans for Prosperity. It also included two liberal groups and one centrist group.

The IRS officials were reportedly already aware that the agency had been targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny during the time Levin was corresponding with Shulman and Lerner.

The IRS acknowledged on Friday that agency officials singled out conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.

Levin is a prominent supporter of the DISCLOSE Act, which would require the disclosure of corporate donors to tax-exempt organizations. He was an original cosponsor of the legislation.

He told New York Times columnist Joe Nocera he would take on groups he believed were abusing their tax-exempt status.

“Tax-exempt 501(c)(4)s are not supposed to be engaged in politics,” he said. “We’re going to go after them.”

Continue Reading