By Ralph Nader
Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)
2236 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington DC 20515
Representative Ron DeSantis (R-FL)
308 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH)
1524 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representatives Chaffetz, DeSantis, and Jordan,
The taxpayers elected you – and therefore pay your salary – with the expectation that you would be responsible legislators, but your behavior as Committee and Subcommittee chairs, along with that of House Speaker Boehner, regarding the IRS has been wholly irresponsible.
Following Representative Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) example, you have made mountains out of molehills in regards to the charges of IRS bias against right wing, tax-exempt, political groups. These charges have been rebutted item by item by the IRS Inspector General, congressional witnesses who have no political ax to grind, and by Rep. Issa’s counterpart, Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), most recently on July 27, 2015 (available at http://democrats.oversight.house.gov/news/press-releases/cummings-issues-statement-on-republican-video-letter-and-press-conference-on-irs). (See http://democrats.oversight.house.gov/investigations/investigation-of-irs for more information.)
Remember that when these 501(c)(4) PACs have overtly politically partisan names and rhetoric, whether from a Tea Party or progressive viewpoint, the IRS should give them closer scrutiny.
In this letter, I wish to address your constituents about your utter ignorance or hypocrisy – you choose – in complaining about government deficits while strip-mining the already small tax collection budget of the IRS, which is supposed to collect over $3 trillion for all three branches of the federal government. Cutting the IRS budget to the bone means it cannot adequately address and collect more of the roughly $300 billion in tax evasions each year.
When the Republican’s yearly reductions in the IRS budget angers someone like conservative economist Jerry Jasinowski, who served as the President of the National Association of Manufacturers for 14 years, and was a frequent witness at congressional hearings, you’d better listen.
Mr. Jasinowski says that cutting the IRS budget for five consecutive years by a total of $1.2 billion and lowering the budget to $10.9 billion –its lowest level, adjusted for inflation, since 1998 – “promotes cynicism [and] encourages cheats.”
He continues: “As a result, the IRS has lost 13,000 employees, 11 percent of the total [employees],” initiated “19 percent fewer criminal investigations than the year before,” and completed “46,000 fewer audits.” Consequently, billions of dollars will, of course, go uncollected every year.
People cannot reach the IRS with their questions. There are not enough IRS agents to answer the phones; millions of calls go unanswered. You have helped cause this mass irritation and waste of time for the people back home.
The increased complexity of the tax laws and the surging number of identity thefts are putting more burdens on the diminishing number of IRS staff, who are resorting to spending their own money on office supplies in order to keep things running. (The Affordable Care Act alone has generated many questions for the taxpayers.)
Mr. Jasinowski charges that “Congress is undermining that trust [known as voluntary compliance], shortchanging the treasury and encouraging illegal behavior. This is a serious mistake.”
It is more than a mistake. Republicans are to blame here because they are running the Congress and passing these cuts despite the opposition from the Democrats. They are knowingly and willfully making it impossible to have the IRS crack down on big corporate tax evasion and large individual violators. No doubt some of these tax cheats are gratefully contributing to the campaign coffers of the Republicans.
It gets worse. While the Republicans are calling for the impeachment of the capable, turnaround expert, John Koskinen, the Commissioner of the IRS, these same Republicans have fashioned a tax code that allows dozens of major corporations, like GE and Verizon, to pay no income taxes at all on billions of yearly profits in the U.S. (see http://www.ctj.org/ for more information).
Republicans do not hesitate when taking money from commercial interests in return for providing tax laws with so many lucrative loopholes that the rich and powerful can become legal tax avoiders instead of remaining illegal tax evaders. The tax code has been wholly shaped by political influence. Fewer tax dollars are being collected even though our country has a huge federal deficit, leaving taxpaying Americans to ultimately pay the price for the flaws in the tax code.
How can you collect your sizable pay check with that kind of grotesque performance? Try disagreeing with Mr. Jasinowski, who accuses the Congress of presiding over an indecipherable tax code that results in “big time tax cheats getting off scot free.”
The rumble from the people gets louder and louder in Left-Right alliances. The gerrymandering of single-party congressional districts that allows members of Congress to avoid the consequences of these actions is ripe for change. Your day of reckoning is approaching. You will be held accountable for your ruinous actions.
Meanwhile, enact President Obama’s partially restored IRS budget to slightly over $12 billion next year – still less expensive than the cost of the latest, redundant aircraft carrier.