Monday, May 13, 2013
When an organization already is deeply unpopular, having it exert authority can spark trouble. The Internal Revenue Service is learning that all over again. Its efforts to check the tax-exempt status of 501(c)4 quasi-political organizations has erupted into volcanic rage from the groups affected. No matter that lower-level employees in the agency thought they were doing their jobs. It is clear that in this instance the agency should have investigated everyone or no one. The slightest perception that it was targeting was unacceptable. And, it was targeting. It is understandable from a management point of view what the agency was doing -- selective audits. The IRS has neither the manpower nor time to audit everyone so it uses criteria to determine whom to investigate. It stumbled badly in this instance and should have known better, even in the lower echelons. Now the IRS and the Obama administration have a mess to clean up, and suspicions of opponents run deeper than ever. It is a good example of "Can't win."