The head of the exempt organizations operation of the IRS has invoked her Fifth Amendment privilege not to testify before Congress. After giving a several minutes statement saying she was “not guilty of violating IRS rules and regulations.”, Lois Lerner then declared her Fifth Amendment privilege. She is now been placed on leave, and actually replaced in the IRS.
This just highlights an ongoing problem with exempt organization reviews by the IRS. There are no time limits requiring the IRS to start or complete a review of an application by an organization seeking to become a charitable organization for federal tax purposes. Also, there are no limitations on the questions that can be asked, nor the documents required. That Pres. Obama has use the IRS as a tool for his reelection campaign (joining former presidents Franklin Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, and Bill Clinton) is not surprising.
The lesson from this is clear. Congress must enact legislation with clear and strict time frames and limitations upon the IRS for the approval of exempt organizations. Congress, once again has failed in its duty to draft a revised and comprehensive Internal Revenue Code. Now Congress is holding hearings on problems with the IRS rather than simply addressing the problems to prevent this from happening in the future.