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“Customer Service” at the IRS?

Monday May 20th, 2013   •   Posted by K. Lloyd Billingsley at 9:04am PDT   •  

steve-miller-irs-afpOn May 17 outgoing IRS boss Steven Miller – president Obama fired him but he was going to resign anyway – testified to the House Ways and Means Committee about his agency’s campaign to target conservative groups seeking non-profit status. Mr. Miller contended that he did not mislead Congress or the American people. He listened to cases of the IRS asking applicants what kind of books they read, people they might know, and even the contents of their prayers. He heard about a businesswoman who, after applying for tax-exempt status for a local tea party chapter, suddenly found herself facing Labor Department inspectors, four inquiries from the FBI, and a foray by the ATF.

Mr. Miller failed to explain how this type of harassment had happened and did not name those responsible. He did reveal that a week earlier the Internal Revenue Service actually planted the question that ignited the whole controversy. Mr. Miller rejected the term “targeting” as “pejorative” but did tell lawmakers “We provided horrible customer service here.” That was the biggest whopper of his evasive and self-serving testimony.

The IRS is not a business. It is a tax enforcement agency of the federal government. Its “service” is doubtless as horrible as Mr. Miller conceded, but it is not “customer” service. Customers operate on a voluntary basis, and choose to patronize one business instead of another. When treated horribly by the IRS, no American worker can seek more courteous and professional treatment at, say, Betty and Don’s Tax Agency down the street. So when it comes to taxes, Americans are more like captives.

According to Mr. Miller, the “superb” IRS manager who headed the division providing the “horrible customer service” was not punished. In fact, she was promoted. Sarah Hall Ingram is now responsible for the IRS division working with Obamacare. More horrible treatment cannot be long delayed.

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May 2013