The Internal Revenue Service usually exists for one purpose: to collect your taxes.
It’s one of the few tendrils of government that works efficiently — with aggressive efficiency, in fact.
There are times when the IRS is called upon to go above and beyond its mission. In the cases of the Trump and Obama administrations, the IRS did so, but for vastly different reasons — and those reasons say it all about the kind of presidents they are/were.
First, the Trump administration.
As you’ve probably heard, the president used the IRS to get relief to Americans.
“The IRS on Wednesday launched a web tool designed to help people get their coronavirus relief payments faster,” The Hill reported April 15.
“The new tool, called Get My Payment, allows taxpayers to give the agency their direct deposit information if they didn’t already provide it when filing their 2018 or 2019 returns. It also includes a function that lets people track the status of their forthcoming payment.”
“We are pleased that more than 80 million Americans have already received their Economic Impact Payments by direct deposit in record time,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.
“The free ‘Get My Payment App’ will allow Americans who do not have their direct deposit information on file with the IRS to input it, track the status, and get their money fast.”
And don’t worry — the biggest potential for fraud has been taken out of the equation.
The bank account information that you already have on file with the IRS can’t be changed. That means your stimulus payment isn’t going to be deposited into someone else’s bank account.
Plus, once your bank account information is entered, it can’t be changed once the payment is scheduled to be delivered to the account, a Treasury Department spokeswoman told The Hill.
And don’t worry about being booted off the new web tool because there are too many requests at one time, either.
“IRS is actively monitoring site volume; if site volume gets too high, users are sent to an online ‘waiting room’ for a brief wait until space becomes available, much like private sector online sites,” an agency statement read.
As of April 15, more than 1.1 million people had provided the IRS with their banking info.
Meanwhile, another 6.2 million had been able to check the status of their payment.
As for paper checks, those were scheduled to start being mailed out last week. However, given the volume of those, it could reportedly take 20 weeks for all of them to end up going out.
Still, it’s some pretty impressive stuff. So, what did the Obama administration use the IRS for?
Well, perhaps you remember the name Lois Lerner?
Groups with those names, of course, generally tended to disagree with Obama politically on, well, just about everything.
“Republicans claimed the targeting of conservative groups showed political bias in the IRS under former Democratic President Barack Obama. House Republican investigators found no connection to the Obama administration, according to a 2014 report,” Reuters reported in 2017.
“But the report did blame IRS officials for mistreating conservative organizations who sought tax-exempt status and [found] that IRS officials covered up the misconduct and misled Congress.”
Then again, it’s difficult to tell when Lerner, the IRS official who was the locus of the scandal, refused to testify before Congress twice.
In 2017, the IRS “expresse[d] its sincere apology” for the targeting scandal and settled a lawsuit brought by conservative groups.
“There is no excuse for this conduct. Hundreds of organizations were affected by these actions, and they deserve an apology from the IRS,” then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions said. “We hope that today’s settlement makes clear that this abuse of power will not be tolerated.”
But it was, and well tolerated too, during Obama’s time in office.
Notice when it was settled? During the Trump administration. What a shocker, right?
Two different administrations. Two different uses of the IRS. You make the call as to which one you prefer.
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