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Posts tagged ‘IRS’

Christine O’Donnell: Tax Law Didn’t Protect Me.


A federal law intended to protect the privacy of personal tax information has become a “shield” to protect tax agency employees, says tea party favorite Christine O’Donnell, whose tax data was accessed  immediately after she announced her Republican Senate candidacy in Delaware nearly three years ago.

“What was written as a well-meaning law to protect taxpayers has inexplicably transformed into a shield for the perpetrators,” O’Donnell wrote in the New York Post Saturday under the headline “Christine O’Donnell: I was a victim of the IRS.”

“Unless the law is changed, there will be no public accountability for those who committed this crime, no one will be brought to justice — and there will be no deterrent preventing such crimes from being committed again.”

O’Donnell defeated former Delaware Gov. Mike Castle, in a 2010 primary for Vice President Joe Biden’s old seat, but lost the general election to Democrat Chris Coons.

The day she announced her candidacy the Internal Revenue Service placed an $11,744 tax lien on a Wilmington home O’Donnell had sold in 2008.

“On March 9, 2010, around 10 a.m., I announced my plans to run for the Senate representing Delaware,” O’Donnell said in her Post column. “Later that same day, my office received a call from a reporter asking about my taxes.

“It’s since come out, after a halting and unenthusiastic investigation, that a Delaware Department of Revenue employee named David Smith accessed my records that day at approximately 2 p.m. — out of curiosity, he says.

“That these records ended up in the hands of the press is just a coincidence, the IRS claims,” O’Donnell said.

“The tax records given to the reporters weren’t even accurate,” she continued. “I had never fallen behind on my taxes, and a supposed tax lien was on a house I no longer owned.

“The lien was highly publicized and used as political ammunition by my political opponents. The IRS later withdrew the lien and blamed it on a computer glitch but, at that point, the damage — and the invasion of my privacy — was done,” O’Donnell said.

She noted how the IRS has admitted to targeting tea party, conservative, and religious groups in their applications for tax-exempt status and acknowledged how “opponents of President Obama have been subjected to audits soon after criticizing the administration.”

In fact, former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz and other conservatives have charged to Newsmax TV that last month’s indictment of Obama critic and best-selling author Dinesh D’Souza on campaign-finance charges “smacks of selective prosecution.”

“What we all have in common,” O’Donnell said. “No answers.”

A Treasury Department official told O’Donnell in January 2013 that “my tax records were compromised and misused,” she said, but since then, “no one has been called to testify, no more answers given.

“How did Smith’s curiosity become an erroneous tax lien? How did the material end up in the hands of a journalist?” O’Donnell asked. “Neither Smith, nor anyone else in the Delaware Department of Revenue, nor anyone at the IRS, has never been placed under oath to explain this.”

The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Judiciary Committee are investigating the IRS targeting — and Iowa GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley has discussed O’Donnell’s case.

Just this week, Grassley and three other Judiciary Committee members called on FBI Director James Comey to answer specific questions regarding the “routine review” of campaign filings, IRS records and other data that led to the D’Souza indictment.

But “in a brutal irony, even if Congress does track down answers, they may not be able to share what they discover with me,” O’Donnell said.

That’s because of the law requiring the privacy of personal tax information.

“Too bad it didn’t protect mine,” O’Donnell said.

“It has already been 10 months since Sen. Grassley and I were told by Treasury Department officials that we would be given information about my case,” she added. “What is taking so long?

“The only way people will be confident the government is truly on their side is if these cases are resolved with the perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice,” O’Donnell said. “Until then, any taxpayer is a potential target.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

By Todd Beamon

Cruz: Obama Snubbed Americans Who have Lost Healthcare Coverage.


Sen. Ted Cruz took President Barack Obama to task Tuesday night for failing to mention the millions of Americans who he says have lost their health coverage because of Obamacare.

The Texas Republican also told Fox News’ Megyn Kelly shortly after the State of the Union speech that the administration’s economic policies were “killing off” off jobs and small businesses.

“It’s interesting, because there’s very little ‘action’ there that was actually responsive to what the American people are feeling and what they’re experiencing,” the tea party favorite said.

Story continues below video.

“If you listen to what he said tonight, he didn’t say a single word that acknowledged that the Obama economic policies have resulted in the lowest labor force participation since 1978. Millions of Americans have lost [their] jobs because of the Obama economic policies.”

“You know what was striking . . . tonight throughout an hour-plus speech?” he continued. “The president didn’t say a single word to the over five million Americans who’ve had their health insurance cancelled because of Obamacare. He left them in the cold.

‘If he thinks Americans want action, what they’d like is for the federal government to stop taking away their health insurance, taking away their jobs, forcing them into part-time work. And sadly, he provided no relief whatsoever on those grounds,” Cruz added.

Cruz, whose battle to defund Obamacare resulted in a government shutdown last October, also took the administration to task for spying on millions of Americans.

“We’ve had an awful lot of government focused on the lives of the American people,” he said. “Spying on our cell phones, on our emails — whether it’s the NSA or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or HHS or the IRS. And you’re right, a lot of Americans would like the government to butt out,” he said.

“But even more importantly, people would like the government to stop putting massive regulations, massive taxes, that are killing small businesses and are killing jobs. Obamacare is the biggest job killer in the country.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Drew MacKenzie

Cruz’s Obama Comments Edited Out of CBS Broadcast.


CBS’ “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer interviewed Sen. Ted Cruz on Sunday about his wish list for President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday, but many of the Texas Republican’s comments on the president’s “abuse of power” appear to have been edited out.

Video from Cruz’s You Tube page showed the senator’s criticism of the administration’s handling of the events surrounding Benghazi and, more recently, conservative author Dinesh D’Souza, remarks that were not seen on the video that aired on “Face the Nation,” reports newsbusters.org.

After introducing Cruz as the tea party Republican who led the shutdown of the government last fall and then grilling the senator on the State of the Union address, Schieffer asked, “Will you run for president?”

Cruz responded, “Well, look, my focus is on the challenges facing this country right now. My focus, for example, is on the abuse of power from the president. Let’s take something like the IRS scandal …”

At which point Schieffer interrupted with “So, do I take that as a yes or a no? Or still thinking about it?”

“Well, what you can take that as, is that my focus is standing and fighting right now in the Senate to bring back jobs and economic growth. Economic growth is my No. 1 priority …”

That is where the CBS broadcast ended, with Schieffer’s abruptly saying, “Thank you so much for joining us, and we’ll talk to you again.”

Story continues below video.

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll 

That is not where the interview posted by Cruz ended.

In that video, Cruz continued, “And let me tell you something that is deeply concerning: the abuse of power from this administration. We’ve seen multiple filmmakers prosecuted, and the government’s gone after them. Whether it’s the poor fellow that did the film that the president blamed Benghazi and the terrorist attacks on, turns out that wasn’t the reason for the attack but the administration went and put that poor fellow in jail on unrelated charges.”

Story continues below video.

“Just this week it was broken that Dinesh D’Souza, who did a very big movie criticizing the president, is now being prosecuted by this administration,” he added.

Schieffer cut in, saying, “Senator,” but Cruz kept speaking.

“Can you image the reaction if the Bush administration had went, gone and prosecuted Michael Moore and Alec Baldwin and Sean Penn?” he asked.

Schieffer again tried to stop him, but Cruz went on to say, “It should trouble everyone the government uses government power and the IRS in particular to target their enemies, and you are talking in a few minutes to Chuck Schumer …”

It was then that the interview on Cruz’s video ended, with Schieffer breaking in to say, “We are going to leave this for another day, Senator. Thank you for joining us, and we’ll talk to you again.”

NewsBuster’s Jeffrey Mayer, who monitors liberal media for the Media Research Center, offered his take on the Schiefer’s interview that aired Sunday:

“Now, it is certainly plausible that CBS edited out the ending of the Cruz interview for time; however, given that Cruz’s comments were extremely critical of the president and came just two days before an embattled President Obama gives his State of the Union speech, the timing of such editing is highly inappropriate and unusual.”

Urgent: Do You Approve Or Disapprove of President Obama’s Job Performance? Vote Now in Urgent Poll

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Lisa Barron

Taxpayer Advocate: Brace for Obamacare Tax Surprises.


It’s not too early to start thinking about the tax implications of health care reform.

Did you buy health insurance through one of the exchanges? You might be eligible for a refundable tax credit. Taxpayers had the option of estimating their 2014 income to see if they qualified for the credit and then having it applied in advance to the cost of the premiums.

“We have an opportunity in the 2014 filing season to educate taxpayers about what they need to do during the year to avoid problems during the 2015 filing season,” National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson said.

Her advice to those taxpayers: keep the exchanges advised if there are changes in your circumstances that could affect the subsidy.

“It could increase if you have another child and you want to be able to get the benefit of that,” she said in a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press. “It could decrease if you have a significant pay increase, if your spouse gets a job, if a child is no longer covered on your plan.”

As a result, some taxpayers could end up owing the U.S. Treasury money when they file their 2014 taxes next year.

“It may mean that they would have a reduced refund, and many taxpayers depend on their refunds for various things,” Olson said. “They’ve used them for planning. They use them like savings, so that will be a rude surprise for these taxpayers. And we can avoid it by having them go into the exchanges throughout the year.”

But what about those taxpayers who don’t get refunds — between 75 percent and 85 percent do, she said — or those whose refunds aren’t big enough to cover what is owed if the subsidy is reduced?

In that case, “the easiest thing is you’ll have a refund the next year, and we’ll take it out of the refund the next year,” Olson said. “It’s a debt on the books. It’s an assessed tax, and we can collect it for 10 years and it’s just a computer offset.”

While her job is to take on the Internal Revenue Service where necessary, Olson said the agency’s role in verifying income for people applying for the health-care subsidy has been working well. “They have lessened the time in which they are able to give the answer to the exchange,” she said.

But she said there needs to be more outreach and education does need to be done about the Affordable Care Act. She called on the IRS to make its website more informative by offering more examples “so taxpayers can recognize themselves if you direct them to a page,” she said.

As for her own role, Olson said she speaks for taxpayers, interceding in individual disputes with the IRS and pushing for tax reform. She said she understands the agency’s constraints and won’t propose changes that are unrealistic. “But,” she said, “I’m not going to take as an answer, ‘Oh, this is too heavy of a lift.'”

There are 74 taxpayer advocates around the country — at least one in each state — who work with her, she said.

To qualify for taxpayer advocate assistance, you must show that you face a significant hardship — that the IRS is causing you economic harm, that its systems are not working or that your rights have been violated. “That gets you through the door,” Olson said.

Ask her what challenges taxpayers face and she answers emphatically, “Getting assistance from the IRS, getting service from the IRS.”

In fiscal year 2013, she said, nearly four out of 10 calls to the IRS did not get through to a live person who could help. The average wait time was 17.5 minutes.

Getting IRS assistance is particularly an issue, she said, when it comes to identity theft, which remains a major issue, although the number of cases has declined since the IRS put “significant screens” in place. When identify theft occurs, Olson said, the IRS needs to act more quickly and consistently to help victims.

“The taxpayer has already gone through an enormous amount of angst and huge inconvenience … and we do not recognize that in our customer service to them,” Olson said. Victims of identity theft typically speak to a different person each time they call the IRS, she complained, and “have to explain their situation over again.”

She said the agency should assign each case to one person who can see it all the way through.

As for electronic filing, Olson suggested that taxpayers look into the IRS’ Free File program, which allows people whose adjusted gross income is under $58,000 to file their taxes for free through the IRS site. For people whose income is higher, the IRS has Free Fillable Forms, which do the basic math but don’t walk you through filling out your returns.

“I don’t think I should have to pay to file electronically with the IRS,” said Olson, who uses the Free Fillable Forms. “That’s my duty as a taxpayer, and the IRS in the 21st century should make it available to me for free. It’s crazy.”

She urged taxpayers to check out tax preparers carefully before hiring one, and not to fall for promises of huge refunds. “It really becomes a ‘consumer, beware’ world,” she said.

In dealing with tax preparers, she offered these tips:

—Get a copy of your return. “If the preparer then alters the return after you’ve signed off on it, that’s proof that it was a false return that was filed.”

—Make sure the preparer’s name, registration number and address are on the return.

—Check with the Better Business Bureau or state consumer affairs agency to see if there are any complaints against the preparation firm or preparer.

“Even though that seems like some work upfront, if you get sucked into one of these preparer issues it can take over a year to get it resolved, and that’s just pain that nobody needs to go through,” she said.

 

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

US Pressure on Swiss Banks May End Era of Secret Accounts.


Image: US Pressure on Swiss Banks May End Era of Secret Accounts

By Lisa Barron

The Swiss banking industry is slowly but surely abandoning its legacy of guarding the secrecy of customer accounts.

As many as 40 of the country’s approximately 300 banks have said they would voluntarily turn over client information to the U.S. Department of Justice in return for immunity from prosecution for helping Americans evade taxes, reports USA Today.

The Justice Department set a deadline of Dec. 31 for the banks to take deals protecting them from prosecution in exchange for handing out Americans’ account information.

“What’s really clear is that this [Justice] program is at the limit of what is tolerable for banks in Switzerland,” Sindy Schmiegel of the Swiss Bankers Association in Basel told the newspaper.

The effort is part of a government crackdown on tax evaders and overseas banks that heated up in 2009 after UBS, Switzerland’s biggest bank, agreed to a $780 million settlement for concealing identities and assets from the IRS.

The Justice Department is currently investigating 14 major Swiss financial institutions, including Credit Suisse, Julius Baer, and the Swiss arm of HSBC, for shielding U.S. tax evaders, and many leading banks that are not yet being probed have been urging wealthy clients to turn themselves in to the tax man, Politico reported last month.

“The banks have every incentive to shove their American clients into compliance in order to reduce the penalties,” tax attorney Jeff Neiman, who prosecuted UBS for the U.S. government, told the publication.

Politico cited three letters from Swiss banks to U.S. clients urging them to come clean.

“Your account information may be subject to a treaty request from the United States to the Swiss Federal Tax Administration, which may result in your account information being turned over to the DOJ or IRS,” warned one letter sent by Corner Bank.

Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum taking place this week at Davos, Switzerland, will reportedly hold a forum dedicated to how the country’s banking industry can reinvent itself in the absence of banking secrecy.

“Swiss bankers accept that they are living in a new reality,” Bruno Patusi, head of wealth and asset management at Zurich-based financial services firm EY, told USA Today.

“But we will only see a change in certain areas. Confidentiality is still extremely important. It is true that we are seeing assets flow out [of Switzerland], but that’s partly because the next generation is more interested in spending than saving.”

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Obama Moves to Weaponize IRS.


Matt Barber
Matt Barber

In 2010 millions of American Tea Party constitutionalists, to include the GOP’s Christianbase, united in a remarkable grassroots effort to rein in our unbridled federal government and return it to its expressly limited constitutional confines. As a result, an unprecedented number of counter-constitutionalist lawmakers (read: liberal Democrats) were swept from office.

The Obama administration wasn’t going to take this lying down. Whether it was by tacit approval or via direct order remains largely immaterial. The president quickly and unlawfully politicized the Internal Revenue Service, using it as a weapon against his political enemies. In an explosive scandal that continues to grow, the Obama IRS was caught – smoking gun in hand – intentionally targeting conservative and Christian organizations and individuals for harassment, intimidation and, ultimately, for political destruction.

Not only has Obama faced zero accountability for these arguably impeachable offenses, he has since doubled down. With jaw-dropping gall, his administration has now moved to officially weaponize the IRS against conservatives once and for all.

Despite the furor over the IRS assault on conservative groups leading up to the 2012 elections, this man – a despotic radical who’s turned our constitutional republic into one of the banana variety – has quietly released a proposed set of new IRS regulations that, if implemented, will immediately, unlawfully and permanently muzzle conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofit organizations and their individual employees. (The 501(c)(4) designation refers to the IRS code section under which social welfare organizations are regulated).

The new regulations would unconstitutionally compel a 90-day blackout period during election years in which conservative 501(c)(4) organizations – such as Tea Party, pro-life and pro-family groups – would be banned from mentioning the name of any candidate for office, or even the name of any political party.

Here’s the kicker: As you may have guessed, liberal lobbying groups like labor unions and trade associations are deliberately exempted. And based on its partisan track record, don’t expect this president’s IRS to lift a finger to scrutinize liberal 501(c)(4)s. Over at a Obama’s “Organizing for America,” the left-wing political propaganda will, no doubt, flow unabated.

These Orwellian regulations will prohibit conservative 501(c)(4) organizations from using words like “oppose,” “vote,” or “defeat.” Their timing, prior to a pivotal election, is no coincidence and provides yet another example of Obama’s using the IRS for “progressive” political gain.

Although these restrictions only apply to 501(c)(4) organizations for now, under a straightforward reading, they will also clearly apply to 501(c)(3) organizations in the near future.

Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel Action – one of the many conservative organizations to be silenced – commented on the breaking scandal: “One of the core liberties in our constitutional republic is the right to dissent,” he said. “But desperate to force his radical agenda on the American people, Barack Obama and his chosen political tool, the IRS, are now trying to selectively abridge this right, effectively silencing their political adversaries.”

Specifically, here’s what the proposed regulations would do to conservative groups and their leaders:

  • Prohibit using words like “oppose,” “vote,” “support,” “defeat,” and “reject.”
  • Prohibit mentioning, on its website or on any communication (email, letter, etc.) that would reach 500 people or more, the name of a candidate for office, 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election.
  • Prohibit mentioning the name of a political party, 30 days before a primary election and 60 days before a general election, if that party has a candidate running for office.
  • Prohibit voter registration drives or conducting a non-partisan “get-out-the-vote drive.”
  • Prohibit creating or distributing voter guides outlining how incumbents voted on particular bills.
  • Prohibit hosting candidates for office at any event, including debates and charitable fundraisers, 30 days before a primary election or 60 days before the general election, if the candidate is part of the event’s program.
  • Restrict employees of such organizations from volunteering for campaigns.
  • Prohibit distributing any materials prepared on behalf a candidate for office.
  • Restrict the ability of officers and leaders of such organizations to publicly speak about incumbents, legislation, and/or voting records.
  • Restrict the ability of officers and leaders of such organizations to make public statements regarding the nomination of judges.
  • Create a 90-day blackout period, on an election year, that restricts the speech of 501(c)(4) organizations.
  • Declare political activity as contrary to the promotion of social welfare.
  • Protect labor unions and trade associations by exempting them from the proposed regulations.

Continued Staver: “We would be restricted in promoting conservative values, such as protecting our constitutional rights against these very kind of Executive Branch infringements.

“We would even be prohibited from criticizing the federal bureaucracy. If this new set of regulations goes into effect, Liberty Counsel Action – all conservative 501(c)(4)s for that matter – will be forbidden to ‘oppose’ or ‘support’ anything in the political arena and we’ll be prohibited from conducting our ‘get-out-the vote’ campaigns or issuing our popular voter guides.

“Further,” continue Staver, “individual employees of conservative groups will be banned from speaking or messaging on incumbents, legislation, and/or voting records – or speaking on the nominations of judges or political nominees being considered by the Senate. This also includes taking on state and local politicians.”

“These are the same tactics used by the Obama administration to illegally target conservative 501(c)(4) organizations during the last two election cycles, only now the strategy has been greatly intensified and formalized.

“You may recall that former President Richard Nixon was famously forced to resign for improperly using Executive Branch assets for political purposes.

“Rather than preparing a solid defense to confront these serious allegations, a brazen Barack Obama has chosen instead to reconfigure his illegal tactics into a set of ‘regulations’ on nonprofits, opening the door for an IRS crackdown on select organizations,” Staver concluded.

Indeed, once caught abusing his executive authority to target the very U.S. citizens he’s sworn to serve, even a nominally honorable man would immediately reverse course, resign and accept the consequences of his illegal actions.

But we’re not talking about an honorable man.

We’re talking about Barack Hussein Obama.

Freedom-loving Americans are asked to file a public comment in opposition to this proposed IRS regulation at Regulations.gov. All comments are due by Feb. 27, 2014.

Also, please sign this petition to the Senate Committee on Finance, Taxation and IRS Oversight to ensure that all 501(c)(4) organizations formed to promote conservative values will be treated fairly by the IRS.

Source: CHARISMA NEWS.

Matt Barber (@jmattbarber on Twitter) is an author, columnist, cultural analyst and an attorney concentrating in constitutional law. Having retired as an undefeated heavyweight professional boxer, Matt has taken his fight from the ring to the culture war.

IRS Off the Hook: No Criminal Charges Over Tea Party Targeting.


The FBI is not planning to file criminal charges involving the Internal Revenue Service’s extra scrutiny of the Tea Party and other conservative groups, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday, citing law enforcement officials.

The newspaper quoted officials as saying that investigators probing the IRS actions, which unleashed a political furor in Washington, did not uncover the type of political bias or “enemy hunting” that would constitute a criminal violation. The evidence showed a mismanaged agency enforcing rules it did not understand on applications for tax exemptions, the Journal reported.

The case is still under investigation, but criminal charges were unlikely unless unexpected evidence emerged, officials familiar with the probe told the paper.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment when queried by Reuters.

If there are no criminal charges as expected, the FBI is likely to see a backlash from already skeptical conservative groups which had raised the idea that the administration would not police itself.

House Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa last week questioned whether a prosecutor handling the case for the Justice Department could remain impartial when he donated to the Obama campaign.

And just last week, The Washington Times reported that some conservative groups were only just being contacted  by the IRS, raising the question of just how thorough an investigation the FBI conducted.

Cleta Mitchell, another attorney representing some of the targeted groups, said last week her clients have not heard from investigators.

“Normally, don’t you first interview the victims?” Mitchell said. “I mean, I’ve watched enough cop shows over the years. You interview the victims. You don’t interview the perp.”

FBI Director James Comey told reporters last week when asked about the IRS probe, “It’s an investigation that we’re still working, and that’s an important one for us.” He declined to comment on whether the FBI believed a crime had been committed.

In May, a senior IRS executive made an unexpected public apology at a legal conference for what she described as improper scrutiny by the agency of conservative political groups.

The apology set off weeks of investigation and controversy, culminating in findings that Tea Party-linked political groups applying for tax-exempt status had been subjected to extra review and delay by employees at an IRS Cincinnati field office.

Republican lawmakers attacked President Barack Obama’s administration over the issue, accusing the agency of political bias.

Obama asked then-acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller to resign in the days after the disclosure, and the FBI opened an investigation.

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

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