Wall Street Journal Retorts to my IRS article

The Wall Street Journal published a letter today in response to my article, “A Brief History of IRS Political Targeting.” The story generated more than 260 comments online, including plenty of thoughtful observations. Reposted below are a few of the testier comments.

Charitable Giving and IRS Abuses:

The general outrage over the IRS auditing political targets on their tax-exempt status goes back a long time (“A Brief History of IRS Political Targeting” by James Bovard, op-ed, May 15). But strangely, the most straightforward solution to the outrage isn’t mentioned: the ending of tax deductibility for charitable, philanthropic and religious contributions under both personal and corporate income taxes. Then the IRS need not be called on to determine what is a legitimate tax-exempt organization and which go over the line to become “political.”

Closing such a large loophole in the income tax would bring in much-needed revenue to both the federal and state governments. It would also reduce administrative costs of compliance for taxpayers and reduce the number of IRS agents—particularly those patrolling for fraud out of its Cincinnati office.

Notice that I am not against giving to charities or religious organizations but only against income-tax deductions for doing so. After all, Leland Stanford endowed and built Stanford University in the 1880s even before the income tax existed. Since then, however, Stanford has morphed into what the IRS calls “a tax-exempt” organization—attracting many wealthy benefactors whose main interest is escaping the capital gains tax rather than contributing to education. Other universities and tax-exempt organizations are in the same boat.

Prof. Ronald McKinnon
Stanford University
Stanford, Calif.
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From the Comments section

Don Wallace Wrote:
Ignoring the IRS assault-by-audit during the Reagan administration is perplexing and calls into question the author’s highlighting of Democrat era IRS abuses. History in the hands of a hack is propaganda.
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Nate Smith Wrote:
The article seems to say if they did it before to some level ,then its OK to up the ante to steal an election. This is NOW dolt.
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Richie Lietch Wrote:
I remember the feeding frenzy Watergate years and do not recall any reporter ever mentioning other presidents had been using the IRS to destroy their opponents. I always thought Nixon was alone in such abuses. Now Mr. Bovard reports that Obama is merely following precedent of FDR, JFK, LBJ, WJC and should be given a free ride. Typical liberal double standard.
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JEANNE PATTERSON Wrote:
The author says it isn’t “surprising” that the IRS abuses its power and provides evidence that IRS targeting was done in the past.

So it’s just something we’ve come to expect then, right? The subtle message is that we shouldn’t be too alarmed because it’s been going on for years. It’s easier to establish tyranny that’s introduced slowly, the people are less likely to notice and the rulers can keep pushing, pushing, pushing until one day it’s too late.

Thanks, Mr. Bovard, for your efforts to justify the efforts of those who abuse their power because “they’ve always done so”. That they will ultimately destroy our republic is just an unfortunate consequence.
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EUGENE FAMA Wrote:
The article starts by saying every president does it but then every example that follows (aside from Nixon) is a Democrat who the liberals now worship. Reagan and Bush aren’t mentioned. So just like during the credit crisis, the Journal runs yet another article that can’t condemn Democrats without lumping in nameless Republicans.
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David Hedenberg Replied:
Notice all the ones you listed than Nixon were Demorats?
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Bob Martin Replied:
They left out Truman and Carter along with Eisenhower, Ford, Reagan and the Bushes. Do you see a trend? Its not every Democrat that’s abusive, just most. Its not every Republican who is clean, just most.
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PETER HARDY Wrote:
It’s hard to read this article and not believe part of the author’s point is that it’s no big deal. Nothing to see here. Move on. America deserves better and I, for one, have higher expectations.
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Bill Zdeblick Wrote:
FDR (D), JFK (D), Nixon (R), Clinton (D), Obama (D)… The pattern is clear! The press investigations only found one Republican – they didn’t even look at the Dems. The real threat to our democracy is a BIASED press not corrupt politicians. We the people will kick the corrupt ones out if we are properly informed.

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5 Responses to Wall Street Journal Retorts to my IRS article

  1. Rick Hanson May 21, 2013 at 1:53 pm #

    Professor McKinnon’s last paragraph, translated into straight talk: “Notice that I am not against you voluntarily giving to non-profit organizations, but only against preventing the government from stealing the voluntary contributions you meant to give only to that organization. I love legalized plunder; it keeps the dissidents in line. Additionally, I can get a paycheck teaching and doing research, thanks to certain private benefactors, that is, people who give of their own volition. However, I am completely doubtful of their true intentions; indeed, I know they are duplicitous vile people who should be punished by the legalized official thieves who I thoughtlessly admire and even love. How do I know these benefactors are insincere? Because I have a special ability to read their minds.”

  2. Jim May 21, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

    Excellent translation, Rick! As soon as the professor said closing the “loophole” would “bring in much-needed revenue,” I became jaundiced.

  3. Rick Hanson May 21, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

    Hahahaha! Me too, Jim. By the way, regarding the detractor comments, you already made it clear in your article that this problem is bipartisan. Duh. The partisans will read what they want to read. Their comments are the equivalent of some immature kid putting his fingers in his ears and yelling, “Nananananana! I can’t hear you!”

    • Jim May 21, 2013 at 3:10 pm #

      Well, I’ve been feeling guilty because I didn’t include anything in the article about Warren G. Harding.

  4. Bill Jones May 22, 2013 at 6:59 am #

    So this clown acknowledges that the govt has a long history of corruption and proposes a way to give it more resources?

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