Everything Comes From the Top at the IRS

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Big-Dawg-590-LI photo via legal insurrection

The Washington Post carried a story yesterday with a quote from a low-level employee at the IRS  who said “everything comes from the top.”

The staffer also said the low-level employees are not political. That is not what I hear. They are all union after all, but I agree that it is highly unlikely low-level employees would take it upon themselves to make decisions as serious as filtering out right-leaning and religious groups for audits and investigations. In fact they wouldn’t get away with it.

“We’re not political,’’ said one determinations staffer in khakis as he left work late Tuesday afternoon. “We people on the local level are doing what we are supposed to do. . . . That’s why there are so many people here who are flustered. Everything comes from the top. We don’t have any authority to make those decisions without someone signing off on them. There has to be a directive.”

The staff member, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing his job, said that the determinations unit is competent and without bias, that it grouped together conservative applications “for consistency’s sake” — so one application did not sail through while a similar one was held up in review. This consistency is paramount in the review of all applications, according to Ronald Ran, an estate-tax lawyer who worked for 37 years in the IRS’s Cincinnati office.

“You’re not going to have a bunch of flaming liberals in the exempt-organizations department looking for conservative applications,” he said.

The employees went on to tell the WaPo reporter that they think the entire affair is the result of mistakes by the management with no one in management realizing the implications. That’s a stretch.

My friend the IRS agent confirmed that this type of activity would have to be at the direction of management. The IRS is very regimented, she said. Everyone has their specific job to do and they do it by the manual. Oversight and monitoring is ongoing and supervisors are paranoid about it. Nothing happens without it having come from the top.

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