Friday, May 17, 2013

IRS misconduct no surprise to me

(This column originally appeared in Talkers Magazine)

The revelation that the IRS was targeting conservative groups came as a shock to much of America.  For me, it was all simply a confirmation of something I’ve been experiencing for some time. 

A couple of years ago I began getting inquiries from the IRS.  They wanted me to explain certain items I’d taken as deductions.  I had the same experience back in the mid-‘90s when I first moved to Philadelphia.  This was during the Clinton administration and I figured when I landed in Philadelphia to do talk radio I also landed on the administration’s radar.  Again, it was petty stuff like making me dig up receipts from prior tax years and fill out all sorts of annoying forms.  Once I satisfied the requests for one year another inquiry for another year would begin almost immediately.

So when this all started again with me a couple of years ago I decided to contact some of my friends in the talk radio business.  I e-mailed back and forth with some high profile talkers.  A couple of them admitted they were going through the same thing but told me in no uncertain terms that they did not want their names made public.  That’s how frightening the IRS can be.

I, on the other hand, was sick and tired of it so each time I got a letter I shared it with my listeners.  I knew I was running the risk of damaging my reputation.  After all, being investigated by the IRS puts all sorts of ugly thoughts in people’s minds.  I also knew I’d be inviting more ire from the IRS but I thought the story was important enough that I needed to tell my audience what was going on.

They began to target my mortgage interest deduction.  Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats had limited how much mortgage interest you could deduct.  The IRS disallowed all of my mortgage interest, not just what would’ve been above the limit set by Congress.  All of it.  And they sent me a bill for tens of thousands of dollars.  I knew they were wrong so I went through the pain of digging up the information they needed.  That wasn’t enough.  They wanted more documentation from the mortgage companies, one of which had been absorbed during the mortgage meltdown by another bank.  Once I provided the requested information they just moved on to another year and started the process all over again.

What’s amusing is after the third time they discovered that I had made a mathematical mistake to my detriment.  They sent me a check for several thousand dollars.  I could tell it was sent begrudgingly because the check arrived with no explanation, no note, no nothing.  At first I thought it was one of those tax scams since it came from out of the blue.  I called the IRS and, after working my way through the labyrinth of departments, finally got word that, yes, the check was real.

That was just a few months ago.  Now they’re on to another tax year, asking for the same information, asking me to fill out the same worksheets and the same forms.  To be clear, I’m not saying that Bill Clinton was behind my IRS harassment during the ‘90s and I’m not saying President Obama is behind it now.  What I’m saying is someone inside the IRS is misusing their power for political retribution, despite what the IRS is saying.  There are just too many examples of it.  We need to put a stop to this once and for all, no matter the political party in power.

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