June 20, 2014

THE ECONOMIST: A dog ate my e-mails.

If your taxes are being audited and you tell the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that you just so happen to have lost the records relating to the period in question, you cannot expect much sympathy. The taxman has heard it all before, and “the dog ate my accounts” gets you nowhere. Odd, then, that the IRS is offering more or less exactly that excuse to Congress. . . .

American tax law is so complex and burdensome that more and more big firms are fleeing the country for friendlier domiciles (see article). But people had assumed that the law was enforced impartially. Since the tax system relies on voluntary compliance, the IRS must be seen to be scrupulously neutral. That is tricky when it appears to have gone after conservatives (and, in a grotesque conflict of interest, anti-tax groups) after some Democratic senators had publicly suggested this would be a good idea. John Koskinen, the IRS’s boss, is to testify before Congress on June 20th. Expect fireworks.

Related: Dallas Morning News: Last straw for IRS should lead to special counsel.