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Washington, D.C.) – The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) today called on the Internal Revenue Service to revise the agency’s training manual to include longstanding principles and laws of the United States.  While the report released this morning by the Treasury inspector general for tax administration on the use of inappropriate criteria to review applications of nonprofit organizations recommended that employees undergo training before election cycles, waiting until 2014 and only training select employees is insufficient to resolve the IRS’ problems.

Along with the IG’s recommendations, the retraining process should include the following information:  The repeal of the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Supreme Court’s decision in NAACP vs. Alabama, privacy laws, and re-emphasis of certain IRS rules.  CCAGW President Tom Schatz issued the following statement about the scandal:

“While mismanagement and ineffective training are no excuse for what has occurred at the IRS, it could explain why employees singled out groups with names that included the words ‘tea party’ or ‘patriot’; focused on government spending, debt, and taxes; promoted the Constitution or the Bill of Rights; or criticized specific laws such as Obamacare or the direction of the country in general.

“Perhaps some IRS employees forgot that the Sedition Act was allowed to expire shortly after its enactment in 1798, and still believe that it is a crime to speak or write any criticism of the government, particularly to ‘excite’ against Congress or the President the ‘hatred of the good people of the United States.’ 

“Or maybe the IRS thought that asking questions to applicants, including the names of the volunteers, donors, contributors and grantors, the size of the contributions and grants and when they were given, and the contents of all speeches its members had made, would help the applicants appreciate the difficulty of creating a successful nonprofit organization.  However, those questions would not have been asked if employees knew that the NAACP case held that membership information for nonprofits is constitutionally protected from mandatory disclosure and that providing such information would have a chilling effect on support.

“In the short term, the various investigations being conducted by the executive branch and Congress will determine which laws have been violated.  Over the long term, every IRS employee should undergo rigorous retraining to ensure that such outrageous behavior does not occur in the future.

“In addition to the criminal investigations, the IRS should be held accountable for the waste and abuse of taxpayers’ money in its other activities.  For example, the IRS has been on the Government Accountability Office’s high risk list since 1990 for its failure to close the tax gap through the enforcement of existing tax laws.  The agency has also failed to sufficiently address identify theft, leaving thousands of taxpayers without the money they are duly owed in tax refunds.  

“Finally, all of us at CCAGW, along with our friends at 501(c)(4) groups such as Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, Freedom Works, and the National Taxpayers Union, are ecstatic that our organizations received tax-exempt status in the good old days, before the IRS decided that there was something ‘special’ about our names and activities.” 

The Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW) is the lobbying arm of Citizens Against Government Waste, the nation’s largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement in government.