IRS Staff Report

Published: Oct 27, 2015

On May 15, 2013—one day after the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration released a report that found the IRS targeted taxpayers on the basis of their political beliefs— President Obama stated the targeting program was “inexcusable and Americans have the right to be angry about it.” Additionally, the President said, “[O]ur administration has to make sure that we are working hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed.”

This acknowledgement came five days after Lois Lerner, Director of the Exempt Organizations Division, stated about the targeting, “that was wrong, that was absolutely incorrect, insensitive and inappropriate.” For the past two years, several congressional committees investigated the IRS’s targeting of conservative groups.

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, however, remained unapologetic about the targeting program and unwilling to work with Congress in the manner the President directed. Rather than cooperate with Congress, Commissioner Koskinen obstructed the congressional investigations of the targeting program by: (1) allowing 24,000 emails relevant to the investigation, and covered by a congressional subpoena and internal preservation order, to be destroyed on his watch; and (2) failing to testify truthfully and providing false and misleading information to Congress.

Commissioner Koskinen’s posture with respect to the various congressional investigations of the IRS caused 52 members of the House of Representatives to sign a letter on July 27, 2015 calling on President Obama to exercise his authority under 26 U.S.C. Section 7803(a)(1)(D) to remove John Koskinen as Commissioner of the IRS. The President took no action, and the House of Representatives is therefore left to consider alternative means to remove Commissioner Koskinen.

It is necessary to remove Mr. Koskinen from his post because his failure to comply with a subpoena and failure to testify truthfully permanently deprived the American people of a complete understanding of the IRS targeting scandal. Commissioner Koskinen’s complete disregard for Congress’s oversight obligations and the American people’s right to know the truth about the IRS targeting program resulted in a deficit of confidence in the nation’s tax collecting agency. His continued leadership of the IRS is an insurmountable obstacle to restoring that confidence. Mr. Koskinen cannot continue be permitted to continue in his role as Commissioner.

This report provides additional details with respect to the various reasons the House of Representatives should initiate impeachment proceedings to remove Koskinen. Briefly, those reasons are:

  • Commissioner Koskinen failed to comply with a subpoena resulting in destruction of key evidence. Commissioner Koskinen failed to locate and preserve IRS records in accordance with a congressional subpoena and an internal preservation order. The IRS erased 422 backup tapes containing as many as 24,000 of Lois Lerner’s emails—key pieces of evidence that were in the agency’s possession, and destroyed, on Koskinen’s watch.
  • Commissioner Koskinen failed to testify truthfully and provided false and misleading information. Commissioner Koskinen testified the IRS turned over all emails relevant to the congressional investigation, including all of Ms. Lerner’s emails. When the agency determined Ms. Lerner’s emails were missing, Commissioner Koskinen testified the emails were unrecoverable. Neither of these statements was true.

    Commissioner Koskinen failed to notify Congress that key evidence was missing. The IRS knew Lois Lerner’s emails were missing in February 2014. In fact, they were not missing; the IRS destroyed the emails on March 4, 2014. The IRS did not notify Congress the emails were missing until June 2014 – four months later, and well after the White House and the Treasury Department were notified.

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