News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander’s office:
TRENTON, Tenn., Sept. 3 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Tenn.) today announced that they will introduce legislation when Congress comes back into session requiring the federal government to notify taxpayers whenever the Internal Revenue Service has accessed their tax returns or other information.
Alexander said: “The IRS violated the First Amendment rights of the American people when it created what amounted to an enemies list of conservatives, including Tennessee Tea Party groups, to keep people quiet. This legislation will give taxpayers the protection they need to make sure the IRS isn’t using their information in a way that violates their First Amendment rights to speak up and speak out, for political reasons or otherwise.”
Fincher said: “Across the country, Americans are losing faith in the government as they’re watching the IRS play politics. This blatant violation of the First Amendment is unacceptable and I’m committed to making sure the IRS is never again used as a political weapon against any group, conservative or liberal.”
The “IRS Abuse Protection Act,” cosponsored by Alexander in the U.S. Senate and Fincher in the U.S. House of Representatives, would require that the secretary of the U.S. Treasury notify taxpayers, in writing, each time the IRS accesses their tax accounts, tax returns or other tax return information.
The notice must include who accessed the information, the purpose of doing so and how the information was accessed. Taxpayers would also receive a copy of the information accessed, and any report issued on how it was used. Continue reading →
The former chair of the Williamson County Republican Party was one of half a dozen to testify in Washington about the IRS targeting Tea Party groups, reports WPLN.
Kevin Kookogey founded Linchpins of Liberty in 2011. He says wants help children learn about the Founding Fathers and other political philosophers. But the group has been inactive for almost two years.
He says he’s been waiting just as long to receive 501c3 non profit status from the IRS. Like other Tea Party groups, he says he’s been stonewalled. He painted a picture of the invasive questions he’s been asked by the agency. He asked the committee, “can you imagine the reaction the students’ parents were I to turn the names of their children over to the IRS?”
Kookogey says he isn’t mentoring any children right now, because he doesn’t want to run afoul of the federal government.
A former top Internal Revenue Service official said Monday that U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan stretched the truth when the former vice presidential candidate mentioned a Chattanooga nonprofit to bolster the idea the IRS favors liberal groups over conservative groups, reports Chris Carroll. In an interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Marcus Owens, who oversaw tax-exempt groups at the IRS between 1990 and 2000, said the Wisconsin Republican overplayed the facts to score political points.
“It’s different rules, different activities, different applications,” said Owens, now a Washington-based attorney. “I think he was stretching things.”
In a statement, Ryan spokesman Kevin Seifert did not dispute Owens. He said the congressman merely wanted to highlight “discrepancies in treatment by the IRS.”
At a House hearing last week, Ryan cited Chattanooga Organized for Action as an example of a left-leaning nonprofit that was cleared for tax-exempt status faster than tea party organizations targeted and delayed because of their conservative ideology.
The Chattanooga Tea Party was among the right-leaning groups singled out by the IRS for extensive questioning and a drawn-out application process.
“The IRS was doing this because they were concerned about political activities by nonprofits. That’s the debate that seems to be taking place here,” Ryan told former acting IRS commissioner Steven Miller. “Some of these that were approved were Chattanooga Organized for Action … and the Progressive USA. If you were concerned about political activity, did you have targeting lists that contained words like ‘progressive’ or ‘organizing’ in their names?”
Left unsaid by Ryan: Chattanooga Organized for Action experienced a lengthy IRS review itself. Additionally, its leaders sought a completely different tax designation than the Chattanooga Tea Party and other groups caught up in the scandal.
Roane County Tea Party (in the News Sentinel)
Gary Johnston thought the questions the Internal Revenue Service was asking seemed overly intrusive, even for an agency known for being irritatingly meticulous.
When he showed the federal tax agency’s demands to an accountant, her response confirmed his suspicions. “Her first question was, ‘Who did you make angry?'” Johnston recalled. “She said, ‘There is something wrong here. A lot of these questions are illegal.'”
Johnston feels absolutely certain that his organization, the Roane County Tea Party, was one of dozens of conservative groups the IRS has admitted to singling out for extra scrutiny when reviewing their applications for tax-exempt status. Today and Friday, he will be in Washington with other tea party officials from across the country to draw attention to their tangles with the tax agency.
Johnston said it took the Roane County Tea Party roughly 37 months to be granted non-profit, tax-exempt status — a process that normally should have taken about four months.
A few months after he submitted the paperwork in 2009, Johnston, the group’s co-chairman, got a package from the IRS demanding answers to roughly 80 questions.
Full story, HERE.
Chattanooga Tea Party President Mark West on Saturday welcomed news that Congress may investigate the IRS after the agency admitted it targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, reports the Times-Free Press. West said the Chattanooga Tea Party is among the 75 groups the agency admitted last week were victims of deliberate bureaucratic foot-dragging.
“It’s a scandal. It is the heavy-handedness of a bureaucratic government agency that has gone awry,” West said by telephone.
He noted that House Republicans are talking of holding hearings and said people of all political persuasions should support them.
“If they can do it to grass-roots tea party groups one year, they can to it to left-wing Occupy Wall Street people the next year. Either way, it’s wrong,” West said.
“Unless there’s an investigation and heads roll, unless some people lose their jobs over this, then we know this is just political. They got caught; they were going to feign an apology and move on.”
He said the Chattanooga Tea Party filed its application for tax-exempt 501(c)(4) status in 2009. He said the IRS “stonewalled and delayed” and asked “inappropriate” questions of the fledgling group. In mid-2011 or early 2012, with no ruling on the application, the agency wrote asking for additional information, West said.
Meanwhile, tea party and patriot groups around the state and nation had begun comparing notes and concluded the foot-dragging was deliberate.
In March 2012, U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker were among those who signed a letter to IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman seeking assurance that patriot and tea party groups were being treated fairly. Note: Press releases from Corker and Alexander are below.
By Steve Megaree, Associated Press
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents on Monday locked down the headquarters of Pilot Flying J, the truck stop business owned by the family of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and his brother, Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam.
FBI spokesman Marshall Stone told The Associated Press that the move was part of an ongoing investigation, but he would not provide additional details. FBI and IRS agents were expected to remain in the building into the evening, he said.
The FBI was keeping all traffic away from the company property, and Knoxville police patrol cars and officers could be seen outside the headquarters.
“Any details that would be released to the public would not be available for some time,” Stone said.
The company doesn’t know why FBI officials closed the headquarters but is cooperating with authorities, spokeswoman Lauren Christ said in a statement. Pilot Flying J retail operations remain open, she said.
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais expects a vote today on the “Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act,” inspired by a soldier from Columbia, Tenn., who was killed in Afghanistan. The bill would prohibit the IRS from collecting taxes on forgiven student loans held by veterans whose active-duty injuries led to death.
From the Chattanooga TFP: The bill is retroactive to Oct. 7, 2001 — the start of the war in Afghanistan. Families who already have paid taxes on such loans would be eligible for a refund, according to DesJarlais’ office.
A freshman congressman seeking re-election, DesJarlais said the bill represents an easy way to fix a baffling tax code issue. It’s the first of DesJarlais’ five bills to get a standalone House vote.
“Committee chairmen, the majority leaders, veterans in Congress — everybody felt this was the right thing to do,” he said.
UPDATE: The bill passed. Here’s the resulting news release:
WASHINGTON, DC – The Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act, introduced by Representative Scott DesJarlais, M.D., (TN-04), passed the United States House of Representative today with a vote of 400-0. “I’m incredibly grateful to the many people that played a part in securing passage of this incredibly worthwhile legislation. But most importantly, I want to thank the Carpenters both for bringing this issue to my attention and for raising such an extraordinary young man,” said Representative DesJarlais. “In learning about Andrew throughout this ordeal, I’ve come to know a selfless individual who loved his country. He is truly a hero. Passing the Andrew P. Carpenter Tax Act is the least we can do in repaying the debt that we owe to Lance Corporal Carpenter and his family.”
Democratic candidate Steve Glaser, his wife and law practice owe nearly $88,000 to the Internal Revenue Service in delinquent taxes, penalties and interest, according to The Tennessean. Glaser is seeking the House District 44 seat being vacated by Rep. Mike McDonald, D-Gallatin. Federal and state tax collectors have filed at least 15 liens against Glaser for unpaid personal income, unemployment and business taxes as far back as 1988 and as recently as Aug. 14. The debts total more than $158,000, according to records on file with the Sumner County Register of Deeds.
Glaser, an attorney and former Portland city judge, conceded he owes the IRS back taxes but said he could not recall how much.
“I’m not ashamed of anything,” he said. “I’m doing the best I can to live in the world like everybody else. In life, you’re going to have successes and failures. It’s what you do about it that matters, and I’m paying my taxes.”
Glaser resigned as Portland’s city judge on Aug. 20, stepping down from a position he had held for nine years, to focus on his race against Cottontown Republican William Lamberth, a Sumner County assistant district attorney.
“I’m not a perfect candidate; I’ve had ups and downs just like everyone else. If the voters are looking for the perfect candidate, I’m not him,” Glaser said.
The liens against Glaser range from $82.43 in 2008 to $55,540 for unpaid federal income taxes between 1988 and 1992.
Of the $158,000 in total liens filed, records indicate Glaser has been released from $70,237 in back taxes owed from 1988 through 1994, 2001 and 2002.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker are among 12 Republican senators who are questioning whether the Obama administration is using the Internal Revenue Service to target tea party-related nonprofit organizations.
The dozen sent a letter Wednesday to IRS Commissioner Douglas Schulman seeking assurances that the agency’s recent string of inquiries into some tea party-affiliated nonprofits is not based on politics.
The letter says the senators have received complaints of excessive IRS inquiries from organizations in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Texas.
“The extra scrutiny the IRS appears to be giving tea-party related nonprofits is disturbing, so I hope we find that the IRS is treating all tax-exempt organizations the same,” Alexander said in a statement. “The government should not have what amounts to an enemies list based on what people or organizations say or believe, and if it turns out the IRS is denying tea party groups the proper tax status because of what they have to say, it must stop and those responsible most be held accountable.”
A spokesman for the IRS did not immediately return a phone call to The Associated Press seeking comment.
The organizations have been complaining that the IRS is purposely trying to thwart their attempts at achieving tax exempt status.
The organizations are applying under section 501(c)(4) of the federal tax code, which grants tax-exempt status to nonprofits for the promotion of social welfare. The 501 501(c)(4)s can engage in lobbying and political campaigning, but don’t have to disclose who is donating money to them.
In addition to Alexander and Corker, the other senators who signed the letter were: Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul, both of Kentucky, Orrin Hatch, (Utah), Rob Portman (Ohio), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Pat Roberts (Kan.), John Cornyn (Texas), Kay Bailey Hutchison (Texas), John Kyle ( Ariz.), and John Tune (S.D.)
Former Nashville Banner publisher Irby Simpkins has admitted defeat in his running battle with the IRS and was ordered to pay more than $5 million in back taxes and $1.8 million in penalties by a U.S. Tax Court in November. He declined to say whether he has paid the sum, reports The City Paper.
Simpkins confirmed to The City Paper that he invested in a series of transactions on the advice of his accounting firm Price Waterhouse in the late 1990s. The IRS claimed that there were deficiencies in four different tax years, 1996-1999. In the largest of those years, 1998, Simpkins was found to have underpaid his taxes by nearly $4.7 million.
In February 1998, Simpkins and his partner Brownlee Currey took $65 million from the rival Tennessean and Gannett to make their paper, the Banner, go away. Simpkins’ final proceeds from the sale, approximately $20 million, generated a large tax liability.
Beginning in the early 2000s, Congress, the Treasury Department and the IRS began cracking down on foreign investment programs like the ones Simpkins was involved in. Price Waterhouse, now Pricewaterhouse Coopers, KPMG and several other firms would later settle over billions in unpaid taxes sheltered by schemes marketed variously as FLIP, OPIS, BOSS and Son of BOSS.
Simpkins says that after fighting the IRS for 10 years, an “old retired fella” had to move on.