IRS: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

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(NY Times) – In an essay published by the New York Times eight years ago, the Internal Revenue Service is pointed out to be in direct opposition to our founding principles of innocence until proven guilty.  When Americans are audited, the I.R.S. is never responsible for proving its case.  Rather, the people are required to prove their innocence.

The taxpayer advocate at the Internal Revenue Service told Congress last week that since 2001, the I.R.S. has labeled as fraudulent the tax returns of 1.6 million people and has frozen their refunds without notice, although most appear to have done nothing wrong. Overwhelmingly, the taxpayers are poor and are simply applying for a break created for them.

Members of the staff of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees the I.R.S., met in private yesterday with crime investigators from the agency. The committee’s chairman then issued a letter to the Treasury secretary with the right goal: correcting the I.R.S.’s apparent failure to balance the rights of taxpayers against the need to fight fraud. But the issues raised by the frozen refunds don’t end there. Congress should hold public hearings.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/20/opinion/20fri1.html