SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

May 22, 2013

Anderson: Draining the swamp

I’ve never been audited by the IRS. Maybe the secret is to not have enough money to justify its effort.

Citizens for Limited Taxation, being purely and proudly political, isn’t a tax-exempt organization. In April 1983, we did create a research-education arm called the Citizens Economic Research Foundation (CERF); we’d heard it was a difficult process so we were grateful that one of our supporters offered his Washington-based lawyer to file the paperwork to get tax-exempt status.

According to my files, we were given preliminary approval in November 1983. There was some back-and-forth paperwork, and we received our final designation as a 501(c)3 in November 1984. As I checked my files for this information, I was surprised to see a now-familiar name signing the acceptance cover letter: Steven T. Miller, director, Exempt Organizations.

You may have recently seen Mr. Miller, presently acting director of the entire Internal Revenue Service, testifying before a congressional committee about the targeting of conservative organizations. His new title, apparently: fall guy for part of the Obama administration’s 2010 re-election strategy of harassing the opposition. Mr. Miller announced his resignation last week.

Considering that he was in his twenties when he signed off on CERF, he must be about to retire anyhow. He did seem arrogant at the hearing, but I’ll bet that just shows an attitude from many career bureaucrats who reflect the ideology and attitudes of their boss. This is why it doesn’t matter who originally appointed them.

Aside from the length of the process, we received no harassment from anyone. Mr. Miller’s boss in 1983-84 was Roscoe Egger Jr., whose tenure I remember with pleasure.

When he became head of the IRS early in the Reagan administration, Mr. Egger set about making major improvements in an agency that was notably inefficient. I met him when he was helping to draft Ronald Reagan’s bipartisan Tax Reform Act of 1986, which simplified the tax code, lowering rates and closing many loopholes.

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