Ander Crenshaw Leads the Charge to Gut the IRS

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: June 19, 2014 3:55 AM
Ander Crenshaw

Ander Crenshaw

From his perch as chairman of the congressional committee that oversees funding the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), U.S. Rep. Ander Crenshaw has become one of the Republicans’ point men in trying to cut the agency's funding, ensure it never targets political groups again and reduce its role in President Barack Obama’s federal health-care law. 

Crenshaw, R-Fla., came out swinging at the IRS Wednesday, unveiling a budget proposal cutting more than $340 million from its last budget. Under the proposal, the IRS would receive $10.95 billion in funding, the lowest amount since 2008 and $1.5 billion less than Obama had proposed.
At a committee meeting, Crenshaw took aim at the IRS for targeting tea party groups and mismanaging its funds.

“The committee remains troubled by their (IRS) activities including the inappropriate singling out of certain tax-exempt groups based on their political beliefs, wasteful spending on conferences and videos, and providing bonuses to staff without evaluating their conduct or tax compliance,” Crenshaw said. “While last year’s bill includes some important spending and targeting reforms, we think more needs to be done to rebuild the confidence of the American people and cannot agree to the requested increase in funding. The bill provides the IRS with $10.95 billion, which is $341 million below the current level and $1.5 billion below the request. This funds the IRS below their fiscal year 2008 level.”

Crenshaw and the committee favored adding language to the proposal, which reforms employee bonuses, ensures no monies will be used for targeting political groups or paying for “inappropriate conferences and videos,” stops the White House from asking the IRS to designate groups' tax-exemptions and forces the IRS to make reports on spending and union activities.

“Language is also included prohibiting funds for Treasury to implement the proposed or a revised regulation regarding the standards and definitions used to determine the tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code.,” Crenshaw said. “I believe that the administration should wait until the investigations into the inappropriate singling out of certain tax-exempt groups based on their political beliefs are completed before proposing to make any regulatory changes regarding section 501(c)(4). The resources used to promulgate this proposed rule could be better spent responding to taxpayers’ correspondence and phone calls.”

Crenshaw also said the IRS should have less of a role in enacting Obama’s health-care law.    
“I also continue to be concerned with the IRS's role in implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the individual mandate in particular,” Crenshaw said. “At a time when the IRS has demonstrated little ability to either self-police or self-correct, the IRS has even more authority over Americans' health coverage. I find this expansion of IRS authority to be unacceptable and, therefore, the bill prohibits funding to implement the individual mandate and prohibits transfers from the Department of Health and Human Services to fund the IRS's implementation of the Affordable Care Act.”

There is pushback in the Beltway, including a report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) which finds that the IRS has been understaffed and behind the times with technology after losing $1 billion in funding since 2010. According to the GAO, there have been consequences for taxpayers.

“Amidst these budget reductions, IRS’s performance has declined in enforcement and taxpayer services,” the report noted. “IRS officials anticipate continued declines in fiscal year 2015.”

Government employee unions are also pushing back against the proposal to cut IRS funding.

“This bill punishes the 150 million individual taxpayers and the 10 million business entity taxpayers who are trying to comply with the tax laws and cannot get the help they need,” said Colleen Kelley, the national president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU), this week.  “Essentially, the message of this bill is: We don’t care how long you have to wait on hold or whether you can get your tax questions or your correspondence answered.”

Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com

Comments (19)

Donald shnyder
2:34PM JUN 19TH 2014
What is the best way to garner Votes. Pick a sore spot on the taxpayers back and soothe it with promises of the MOON. do not hold your breath as even if it passed thee house it would never get by "Dirty Harry". Barry would get out his trusty pen and veto it. Wake up you are now officially an INFEDAL
Ray Comfort
1:35PM JUN 19TH 2014
Revamp the tax code: flat tax or as close as you can come to it...... repeal ACA, turn it back to private industry and then lastly, skin the IRS to a shell of it's existence. Crenshaw has just wasted much time politicizing and protecting his true constituency: his peers in Congress! Call Steve Forbes: He has real ideas!
8:38PM JUN 19TH 2014
Steve Forbes has no ideas that will help the middle class or working poor, only the top 1% and even more the top0.1%.
The Tax Code does need to be simpler with far fewer deductions and exemptions especially for the very rich and business. All income neeeds to be taxable income with investment income particularly not receiving preference.
As to the "Fari Tax'" it is not fair at all but very, veery regressive. Plus who is going to administer it , the ""Fair Tax Fairy?" Receiving and accounting for the revenues and then writing and issuing the checks to those that receive them sure would not happen magiccally.
8:32PM JUN 19TH 2014
The ACA is already in private hands. Unfortunately. Insurance is not provided by the government but through private companies.
Pat Lavins
11:35AM JUN 19TH 2014
The GOP yet again is on the wrong side of the issue. Attacking overworked Federal employees for systematic failures shows lack of common sense.

All members of Congress should read the GAO report before taking any action.
10:30AM JUN 19TH 2014
This bill is straight from the political operatives' and millionaires’ playbook. Slash funding so IRS does not have resources to scrutinize tax-exempt applications, or track you illegal tax shelters. It is hard to tell if Crenshaw actually believes what he says or is just throwing out red meat to his base. He falsely says the IRS “inappropriately” singled out certain tax-exempt groups “based on political beliefs.” The facts show IRS did not single out any group based on political “beliefs” and there is nothing inappropriate in the method being challenged by anti-IRS politicians. Those are distortions/lies to rile up the base. Rather than “beliefs,” the IRS looked for political activity as required by LAW. With the overwhelming volume of groups applying for tax exempt status, amid funding cuts, the IRS simply created a shortcut to identify the groups requiring more scrutiny, using a list of search words commonly associated with political activity e.g., “tea party,” “liberal” - YES, liberal groups were identified for scrutiny as reported in Congressional hearings. One source said the only group denied was a liberal group. Another of Crenshaw’s misleading statements to rile the base is implying the White House, aka Obama, asks the IRS to assign tax exempt status, implying that this is actually happening. But if you want to go there, how about adding the Congress? Stop them from strong-arming the IRS to give tax-exempt status to groups that do not qualify, like they are doing with their intimidating hearings. And no right-wing bill can be complete without the “kill Obamacare” clause with this downright stupid assumption that calculating a tax bill is “authority over Americans’ health coverage.” I agree with ensuring bonuses are tied to evaluations, but it is probably against the fair labor standards to single out (get that? – “single out”) LEGAL union activity. Although he wants to stop any reform in the tax “regulations” while the hearings drag on and on – so right-wing orgs can get their exemptions -- the HUGE FACT ignored by anti-IRS politicians and pundits is the actual law passed by Congress decades ago prohibits 501(c)(4) organizations from participating in ANY political activity. But the IRS has been giving leeway with their wrong regulations that allows some political activity. Correcting this reg that is inconsistent with the law is what Crenshaw wants to stop. The most disturbing thing about Crenshaw’s false assertions is that it is this kind of right-wing, anti-government distortions that motivate people to go out and shoot innocent Americans.
Pat Lavins
11:39AM JUN 19TH 2014
Diane has clearly and concisely identified the source of the problem. All too oftern there are members of the U. S. House of Representatives like Bill "Birther" Posey who likes to speak the words "accountability" but never actually take any action.

Crenshaw like Posey can only say "No" to any common sense proposal which is precisely why the usage of the term the "Party of No" is so appropriate.
C Breeze
10:54AM JUN 19TH 2014
Which Democrat's campaign do you work for Diane? You obviously study and regurgitate the "talking point" rhetoric.
10:37PM JUN 20TH 2014
Spoken by a member of the Tea Party whose views are so far right I bet you plan your trips to avoid left turns. How can anybody take you seriously when you act in such a partisan way. Politics is the art of compromise, not a my way or no way attitude. When a politician is elected it is his or her duty to represent ALL of the people in his or her district. Not just those who elected them. Anything else is a violation of their oath of office and a crime against those whom they refuse to represent.
9:58AM JUN 19TH 2014
Yes.Crenshaw chooses to pander to the radical tight rather then providing rsponsible governance.
The IRS, as the GAO report says, needs more funding and more agents.
Pat Lavins
11:42AM JUN 19TH 2014
Michael is right. "Responsible governance" is a skill rarely found in the GOP.

Logic is also not their long suit -- If there were more agents, more revenue would flow into the Treasury and we could address the debt and deficit that the GOP pretends to worry about on occasion.
Robert H
9:26AM JUN 19TH 2014
I'm right onboard the Crenshaw express. I only wish he'd go the extra mile and completely defund the IRS, forcing congress' hand to vote on a new and fairer tax system. One that puts the power back into the peoples hands.
Pat Lavins
11:44AM JUN 19TH 2014
Robert needs to use some common sense. Defunding the IRS is nothing more than a slogan unless you are able to provide an alternate source of funding for the government.

There is no evidence that the power is not still in the hands of the people.
10:41AM JUN 19TH 2014
Defund the IRS? Then who is going to collect taxes to pay for the federal highways you travel and other resources you benefit from? Hundreds of them, including ensuring you have clean air to breath and kind of clean water to drink, that your kids are safe from contagious diseases because tax payers fund research and vaccine development. Don't forget federal funding for education and evaluation of medicine and food inspection. And the national defense and veterans' benefits.
C Breeze
10:51AM JUN 19TH 2014
"FairTax" NOW ! (Read the book Diane)
Pat Lavins
11:46AM JUN 19TH 2014
There is no such thing as the "fair tax" and the book clearly identifies that it going shifts the burden to those least able to pay.
C Breeze
6:26AM JUN 19TH 2014
"FairTax" NOW ! ! !
7:34AM JUN 19TH 2014
I agree - the current tax system doesn't work. I applaud Crenshaw etc. for at defunding the IRS and parts of Obamacare, but whenever the Gov't doesn't get more money they do have to show the people it they who will suffer. Keep an eye out for their tantrum.
Pat Lavins
11:49AM JUN 19TH 2014
J. C. has provided no evidence that the current tax system does not work. Defunding the IRS is a simplistic idea to address a complicated idea.

The people have suffered for a long time because the largest source of waste, fraud and abuse is the Department of Defense. Defunding the IRS would also mandate the elimination of the DOD.

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