Unmatched For Ineptitude.......
John A. Quayle
blueoval at SGI.NET
Wed Nov 17 18:16:00 MST 1999
> WASHINGTON (AP) - The Internal Revenue Service, which penalizes taxpayers
for sloppy documentation, has a record-keeping problem of its own. The
agency can't find 114 files related to audits of tax-exempt organizations.
> The IRS also says a secretary taped over a recording that is being sought
> as evidence in a lawsuit - a suit that alleges agency officials may have
> shredded documents to conceal efforts by politicians to get groups audited.
> The tax agency said the secretary, using her personal recorder, first
> recorded music over the tape, then another meeting, records show.
> The IRS made its statements in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed
> by the Landmark Legal Foundation, a conservative legal group that is
> searching for evidence of politically motivated audits. The agency denies
> politics enters into any audit decisions.
> Landmark contends it has information from ``a senior grade federal
> government employee'' that an IRS official, Frances T. Hallihan, spoke of
> concealment and shredding at a meeting of IRS managers and others in San
Francisco in October 1997.
> The alleged shredding - which the IRS has not addressed - was conducted
to conceal the fact that members of Congress were tipsters who prompted
audits of tax-exempt organizations, Landmark said.
> The Associated Press reported Monday that members of Congress and White
House officials have prompted hundreds of audits of political opponents in
the 1990s. The audit requests ranged from the forwarding of constituent
> letters and newspaper articles alleging wrongdoing by various groups to
> personal demands for audits from members of Congress.
> Landmark sought IRS records from January 1992 through January 1997 in
which sources outside the agency requested audits of tax-exempt organizations.
> In one written response Harold N. Toppall, an IRS manager in the exempt
> organizations division, stated: ``My office could not locate 114 of the
> 1,586 potentially responsive case files. ``These are files missing ...
> during the time period 1992-1994.''
> IRS officials declined to address the allegations or allow Ms. Hallihan to
> be interviewed.
> ``It is inappropriate for the IRS to comment on this particular case while
> the litigation is pending. We are confident the issues being raised will
> all be taken up and addressed during the court's consideration of the
> case,'' agency spokesman Steve Pyrek said.
> U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy Jr. has granted Landmark the right
to question Ms. Hallihan, despite the IRS' efforts to obtain a protective
order to stop such a deposition. The deposition has been delayed while
Landmark tries to obtain the disputed tape recording.
> ``Ms. Hallihan reportedly stated that in the event a congressman or staffer
> called, the IRS intake person was to ask the member or staff person if the
> information came from a newspaper article, television report or constituent
> so that the IRS intake employee could list the 'tip source' as something
> other than the congressman or staff member,'' Landmark contended in a
> ``Ms. Hallihan is also reported to have said that she was aware that intake
> notes relating to tips from congressmen or staffers had been or were being
> shredded by IRS employees,'' the court filing alleged.
> IRS officials say they keep original letters requesting an audit with the
> case file when it goes to officials who decide whether an investigation
> should begin.
> In the lawsuit, the IRS previously indicated there was no recording of the
> 1997 meeting. But last month, Justice Department trial attorney Joseph
> Sergi informed Landmark that IRS secretary Jeannette Wallace taped the
> meeting for later transcription.
> ``When the minutes were completed, and the tapes were no longer
necessary, Ms. Wallace used the tapes to record music at her home,'' Sergi
said in a letter to Landmark.
> The tape then was used to record another IRS meeting that took place on
> June 4, 1998, the government contended, adding that the original reuse of
> the tape occurred before Landmark's lawsuit was filed.
> Landmark wants to send the tapes to an expert to determine if recordings
of the 1997 meeting can be recaptured.
> Copyright 1999 Associated Press.
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