Bailout Bill Gives IRS Agents Permanent Authority to Work Undercover

Did you know this?

The bailout bill also gives the Internal Revenue Service new authority to conduct undercover operations. It would immunize the IRS from a passel of federal laws, including permitting IRS agents to run businesses for an extended sting operation, to open their own personal bank accounts with U.S. tax dollars, and so on. (Think IRS agents posing as accountants or tax preparers and saying, "I'm not sure if that deduction is entirely legal, but it'll save you $1,000. Want to take it?") That section had expired as of January 1, 2008, and would now be renewed.

[more ...]

Starting with the so-called Anti-Drug Abuse Act in 1988, the IRS has possessed this authority temporarily, with occasional multiple-year lapses. A 1999 internal report said the IRS had 126 "trained undercover agents" working in field offices at the time. This is the first time that such undercover authority would be made permanent.

Even worse are the IRS agents who engage in undercover drug transactions so they can bust drug dealers for failing to report income. Every law enforcement agency wants a piece of the drug war, but for the IRS to get involved is ridiculous misuse of resources. (And an ineffective means of tax collection, since drug dealers rarely save money that can be used to pay back taxes.)

We don't need IRS sting operations. There is no shortage of tax evasion schemes for agents to pursue without trying to sting taxpayers into committing new crimes. Increasing the audits of the wealthy taxpayers who are most likely to abuse the system would be a more reasonable approach to tax crime enforcement.

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    Jeez.... (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:19:26 PM EST
    is there any bill passed that doesn't have somekind of tyranny buried in it somewhere?

    Undercover taxmen...what next, undercover traffic cops?  

    undercover traffic cops... (none / 0) (#18)
    by CST on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:52:10 PM EST
    I am pretty sure we already have those.

    True... (none / 0) (#21)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 03:36:49 PM EST
    highway patrol and such, I was thinking more of meter maids.  

    Heh (none / 0) (#22)
    by CST on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 03:44:20 PM EST
    Apparently a bunch of people think we already do.

    As a traffic engineer (and junior at that) sometimes I have to go out into the field and count parking spaces and the like.  You have no idea how many people ask me if I am going to give them a ticket.  I guess if you carry a clip-board people think you're a cop, even without the uniform.  Even though cops don't carry clip boards...


    Funny.... (none / 0) (#26)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 04:32:53 PM EST
    I guess we the people are just so used to being extorted:)

    I.R.S. laws (none / 0) (#33)
    by maryyooch on Sat Oct 04, 2008 at 12:56:20 PM EST
    "Think IRS agents posing as accountants or tax preparers and saying, "I'm not sure if that deduction is entirely legal, but it'll save you $1,000. Want to take it?")

    Isn't that bordering on entrapment? I am being serious here.


    Charming ... (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by Robot Porter on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:44:17 PM EST
    oh, so charming.

    I always knew IRS agents secretly dreamed of being spies ... they need dream no longer.

    How long before this becomes a TV series?

    IRS: Special Victims Unit


    I sure didn't know that. Posing as accountants? (none / 0) (#1)
    by Teresa on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 01:46:56 PM EST
    That is just awful. My bosses always told me that if a deduction is in doubt, take it. I absolutely can't stand setups of any kind.

    One more week til jury duty and if I get chosen, I hope it isn't a setup type case because I don't believe in them.

    I have a friend (none / 0) (#2)
    by eric on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 01:49:11 PM EST
    who is a tinfoil hat/Ron Paul/the New World Order controls everything person.  I hate it when the crazy things that he says about how the government is slowly seizing more power turn out to be true.

    Time to ask... (none / 0) (#16)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:44:45 PM EST
    your buddy if he has an extra tinfoil hat you can borrow, eric:)

    Were (none / 0) (#29)
    by Wile ECoyote on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 06:08:30 PM EST
    you in favor of the bailout?  More big gov't to come.  

    Defense lawyers are funny (none / 0) (#3)
    by Steve M on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 01:59:27 PM EST
    Who else expends so much effort arguing against legislation that would benefit their bottom line?

    It's like credit card companies telling people to spend more responsibly!

    Well, there are three responses to your (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by scribe on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:03:03 PM EST
    1.  IRS agents, cops and similar often deliberately target defense lawyers to entrap them.  The likelihood of their doing that increases in proportion to the skill and success of the defense attorney.
    2.  We actually don't want business, because that means people are committing crimes (Allegedly).
    3.  We'll all be happy to stand aside and leave you without representation when the government comes for you.  We'll indulge ourselves with sort of a Darwinism thing.

    Well (none / 0) (#7)
    by Steve M on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:12:41 PM EST
    #3 seems remarkably unresponsive to my point.  It sounds more like a cheap shot designed to suggest that I am opposed to criminal defendants receiving representation, which is not only untrue, but has nothing to do with what I said.

    As a civil defense lawyer myself, I find that many in my profession attempt to commiserate with their clients about the oh-so-burdensome impact of all those laws and regulations, but are privately quite happy that the government continues churning out legislation that keeps the lawyers busy.  Criminal defense lawyers, on the other hand, seem to have more of a genuine interest in good public policy, even if it cuts against their pecuniary interest.


    In a similar vein, my colleagues (none / 0) (#28)
    by oculus on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 05:05:21 PM EST
    endlessly railed about pro per inmates filing worthless lawsuits, costing the taxpayers money, clogging the courts, etc.  But--bottom line--full employment.  Well plus all the people who filed lawsuits after the most benign contacts with law enforcement.

    Fother Mucker (none / 0) (#4)
    by dead dancer on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 01:59:56 PM EST
    Get to bail the *astards out while taking one up ...

    And none of this is politicizing;

    must save country

    must save country

    must save country

    /facepalm (none / 0) (#6)
    by Faust on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:12:12 PM EST

    Gee (none / 0) (#8)
    by bocajeff on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:16:12 PM EST
    Politicians behaving politically, how existential...

    Stupid question... (none / 0) (#10)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:21:46 PM EST
    ...but is entrapment different than a sting?  Or is the IRS exempt from both now?

    /no lawyer

    Well (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Steve M on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:30:07 PM EST
    Entrapment is when you catch people who aren't already predisposed to commit the crime.

    So if a fake accountant sits there, and waits for someone to propose a fraud before slapping the cuffs on, that's a sting.

    If the fake accountant is actually the one suggesting the fraud in the first place, that starts to look a lot more like entrapment.

    The scenario seems to come up a lot where an undercover agent will infiltrate a "subversive group" and then, upon finding out that the group doesn't actually seem to be planning anything illegal, will start making helpful suggestions like "hey, we should really go bomb something!"


    Thanks... (none / 0) (#14)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:43:24 PM EST
    ...that is pretty much what I thought.  Good thing I trust my tax preparer dude.  

    Boy, you'd think the need for (none / 0) (#12)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:31:47 PM EST
    undercover IRS stings would decline now that one of the bailout "pork" items means they'll no longer spending their lives trying to bust kids' archery arrow manufacturers for not paying the 43-cent excise tax on their 30-cent arrows.

    Damn.... (none / 0) (#13)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:43:10 PM EST
    0.43 on 0.30...harsh.

    That's like NY State/City with their $5 on a $2.50 pack of butts.

    I generally against new laws and all, but we might need one that stipulates the govt. can't make more in tax on an item than the manufacturer makes for producing it...I mean seriously, It's like their begging us to have another tea party.


    And, of course, (none / 0) (#17)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 02:51:44 PM EST
    once the 43-cent excise tax was enacted on US manufacturers, China's 30-cent + 0-cent excise tax arrows took a bunch of the market away from the US's 30-cent + 43-cent excise tax arrows.



    Does our national stupidity... (none / 0) (#19)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 03:01:13 PM EST
    know no bounds?

    actually, i think (none / 0) (#23)
    by cpinva on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 03:45:22 PM EST
    the better question to ask is, why is there an excise tax on arrows (wooden and otherwise) to begin with? or fishing rod blanks, for that matter?

    this might be a good thing really, because these taxes are, for the most part, hidden from view of the consumer. in the aggregate, along with sales & use taxes, personal property taxes, real property taxes, etc., they cause the income tax to pale by comparison.

    historically, the excise taxes which get the most media attention are the so-called "sin taxes", on alcohol & tobacco. no politician in his right mind is going propose lowering or eliminating them, because, you know, it's "for the kids", and drinking and smoking are bad for you anyway.

    supposedly, those taxes were used to pay for medical expenses run up by indigent alcoholics and smokers (often one and the same). in truth, the funds went into the general treasury (and still do), used for whatever.

    this is true of all excise taxes, they are all essentially a low profile revenue grab, their sole reason for existing.


    You mean (none / 0) (#24)
    by CST on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 03:52:26 PM EST
    You haven't heard about the arrow-injury epidemic???

    I mean, have you ever shot an arrow?  It can give you a rash on your arm if you don't do it right.  And you might accidently shoot someone.

    I wonder what the statistics are for hospitalization due to arrows vs. something like bad milk (which has no tax at all).


    You're thinking of... (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by desertswine on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 04:02:19 PM EST
    lawn darts...  the world's most dangerous toy!

    Dude.... (none / 0) (#27)
    by kdog on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 04:35:42 PM EST
    My family used to have some epic lawn dart matches...great game, good call d'wine.

    Taxes (none / 0) (#34)
    by maryyooch on Sat Oct 04, 2008 at 12:59:51 PM EST
    Yes, NYC does charge too much for smokes, but Nashville charges nine and three quarter percent on everything you buy, including groceries!

    That's what you get when you rush a bill (none / 0) (#20)
    by Saul on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 03:07:24 PM EST
    Same thing happen with the war resolution.  A bunch of goodies we regret later are slipped into the bill.  I suggest someone go through with a fine toot comb and post all that is bad with the bill. No reason it could not be modified in the next congress.

    What is it with (none / 0) (#30)
    by joanneleon on Fri Oct 03, 2008 at 10:08:20 PM EST
    this country anymore?

    It's like everyone with authority wants to be in a special ops unit or something.

    Even the local police here now have these black police cars and black SUVs.  They used to have nice white police cars, just like police cars have always been.  Now they've got these scary looking black cars with the light bar sort of set down into the roof so they're hidden, and these lights inside the front grill.  When they have their lights on they flash across buildings blocks away.

    A detective in our police dept. told me in the course of a conversation that the higher level law enforcement agencies, federal, never used to give them any information, but now they are sharing alot more data with them.  I wish I had figured out a way to get more specifics on that.

    Also, seeing the police forces in all their riot gear at various protests, from pictures people have taken, is really creepy.  

    I remember when we were teenagers hanging out at the playground, and some of the policemen would come and hang out and talk to us.  Things are so different now.

    The more I read about this bill, (none / 0) (#31)
    by BrassTacks on Sat Oct 04, 2008 at 12:04:05 AM EST
    The more I hate it.  It's a terrible bill, on so many levels.  I cannot believe our representatives supported this pile of doo doo.  

    So this is what we gave up (none / 0) (#32)
    by Militarytracy on Sat Oct 04, 2008 at 09:59:52 AM EST
    in order to get BushCo to agree to lay the groundwork for HOLC on his watch?  They want the ability to terrorize people who may not be paying all of their taxes and assume that the focus will remain drug dealers?  I hope there are a few surprises awaiting a few of them that are a little light in the ethical department.

    You need better clients! (none / 0) (#35)
    by Mitch Guthman on Sat Oct 04, 2008 at 06:29:29 PM EST

    I think just about all the boss dealers have something in the bank and all of them have spent money on things that you can take:  Houses, cars, jewelry, brokerage accounts.  Lots of stuff.   Same kind of stuff criminal lawyers take liens on for their fees.  If you don't have to feed it or clean up after it, it's probably worth taking.

    If the drug dealers you know don't have any money or valuable stuff, then you should definitely strive to upgrade your clientele.

    raising money (none / 0) (#36)
    by diogenes on Sat Oct 04, 2008 at 10:29:04 PM EST
    Do you think Obama will change this?  How is he going to raise money for spending programs except by going after "fat cat tax cheats"?