“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”
– Exodus 20:5 (KJV)
There are some conservative American Christians who believe that the government is conducting a systematic attack on their beliefs. They point to an increasing volume of anecdotal evidence to support this claim. But in light of recent events, perhaps they will have to re-examine their view.
It would appear that at least one governmental agency has taken the admonition in the above Scriptural verse to heart and has decided to act as God’s instrument to fulfill it. It may come as a surprise to most of us but that agency is the IRS. Perhaps IRS has misread the verse from Exodus and believes that it is the Supreme Being – or at least the Supreme Enforcer of Righteousness.
Most people when they hear from the IRS are, like Queen Victoria, “Not amused.” There is nothing very funny about anything that agency does – or threatens to have the ability to do. That sentiment has long preceded the obvious politically motivated refusal to give conservative organizations a tax exempt determination.
But even the IRS has reached a new low – leading one to believe that somewhere there really is a bottomless pit. Thanks to an act of Congress, the former time limit of ten years that the agency had to collect taxpayer debts has been lifted. And the IRS has wasted no time taking advantage of its newly extended abilities to reach into the taxpayers’ pockets.
The problem isn’t that the agency is collecting monies that a specific taxpayer has failed to fork over to them. The agency feels that it is perfectly correct to collect those funds from the descendants of the taxpayers who originally incurred them.
Now this may astound you but there are apparently some “errors” which occur in the course of governing this great country. In fact, there are quite a few of them which occur regularly. In previous posts I made reference to how the IRS annually sends refunds to people who fraudulently claim that the government owes them money.
From sending millions in over 200 separate refunds to a single address in Florida or similarly sending half a million bucks claimed on 100 returns to one address in Bulgaria, the agency has shown its abilities in mastering the fine art of ineptitude. But the current rampage against the taxpayer comes not from the IRS’ own inadequate procedures but rather from another federal entity.
If you’ve been amazed at how inept the roll out of Obamacare has been, it should be no surprise that the same agency which was responsible for that debacle, HHS is also the source for other mistakes which the IRS is trying to set right. And the particular division of HHS which apparently screwed up is none other than the Social Security Administration.
SSA not only administers retirement benefits into which all Americans are forced to pay through payroll deductions or, in the alternate, on their tax returns. But it also administers disability payments to workers who are (purportedly) unable to work due to physical impairment or mental issues. The second of these two programs has been fraught with fraud. Even SSA acknowledges that.
But while the erstwhile crooks who con the taxpayers out of their hard earned dollars by making false disability claims has increased substantially in recent years, there have always been some who made false claims or received benefits after they no longer qualified. It is these people who are currently being targeted by IRS. Or more correctly, it is their children who are being forced to make restitution for these “overpayments.”
Let’s think about this for a moment. Purportedly, a person received payments to which he or she was not entitled – let’s say 40 years ago. Then, for lack of anything better to do, someone in SSA noticed that their agency had made a $350 mistake. And they decide that going after this will help relieve the national debt. So they inform IRS that there is a balance due them for the mistake which they originally made.
But there’s a problem. The individual who received this overpayment died ten years earlier. Not to be deterred by this, the IRS has figured out that their child, who was four when this problem started, is still alive and has a refund due on her return. So the IRS flags her return and deducts the overpayment to her parents from her return and sends her a notice, explaining why her refund is $350 short of what she was expecting.
I’m not sure this program will prove to be anything near the windfall either for IRS or SSA that pursuing and shutting down fraudsters who collect around $50 MM per year in bogus refunds receive would prove to be. Frankly, I doubt it.
As this will do little to contribute to federal revenues, I can only assume that the IRS is adhering to the principles espoused in our quote from Exodus. It will be interesting to see if some religious group decides to file suit to block this program, citing the once venerable precept of “Separation of church and state.” Meanwhile, it appears that the sins of the father will indeed be heaped upon the children. We’ll have to stay tuned to see for how many generations that will last.