On Sept. 23, the IRS issued a statement saying that Lois Lerner, the official at the center of the Tea Party targeting scandal who was placed on paid administrative leave in May, has retired. The retirement is a recent development, if testimony by acting IRS commissioner Danny Werfel last week is to be believed.
The statement also said, “Since May, the IRS has taken decisive actions to correct failures in exempt organizations management, replacing top leadership throughout the chain of command. In addition, IRS acting commissioner Danny Werfel created an accountability review board to fully review information to ensure proper oversight in handling personnel issues.
The IRS is making important progress on fixing the underlying management and organizational deficiencies. Our goal is to restore the public's faith and trust in the tax system. We have sent nearly 400,000 pages of documents to Congress and facilitated dozens of employee interviews. We look forward to continuing to cooperate with Congress and other investigations.”
Lerner was in charge of the division of the IRS which handles applications for tax-exempt status, such as those listed in 26 USC § 501(c). During her tenure, IRS agents targeted tea party, “patriot,” and “9/12 Project” groups for additional scrutiny when they applied for tax-exempt status.
Lerner disclosed the targeting by answering a planted question at a law conference in May, saying that the targeting was performed by agents working at the Cincinnati office of the IRS. She then invoked Fifth Amendment privileges when called to testify before Congress.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the House Oversight Committee Chairman, said in a statement, “Lois Lerner’s exit from the IRS does not alter the Oversight Committee’s interest in understanding why applicants for tax exempt status were targeted and inappropriately treated because of their political beliefs. We still don’t know why Lois Lerner, as a senior IRS official, had such a personal interest in directing scrutiny and why she denied improper conduct to Congress. Her departure does not answer these questions or diminish the Committee’s interest in hearing her testimony.”
From a philosophical libertarian perspective, the conduct of the IRS in collecting taxes is a violation of the natural rights of property ownership and voluntary association, and would constitute several counts of criminal behavior under federal law if a non-state actor were to behave in the same manner. The Libertarian Party supports the abolition of the IRS.