Americans for Tax Refrom Supports the Mississippi Taxpayer Pay Raise Act

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Posted by Patrick Gleason on Wednesday, February 11th, 2015, 1:04 PM PERMALINK

In a new Forbes column, ATR's Patrick Gleason highlights a pro-growth tax reform proposal unveiled in Mississippi yesterday by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R). Read Gleason's piece below to find out how Lt. Gov. Reeves' proposal, if approved by legislators, would make Mississippi more economically competitive, would increase the job-creating capacity of in-state employers, and would allow Mississippi taxpayers to keep more of their hard earned income.


Forbes: Tax Reform Continues To Sweep Through The South

By: Patrick M. Gleason

Today, Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) introduced a plan, dubbed the Taxpayer Pay Raise Act, that would reform the state’s tax code in a manner that makes the state more competitive, fosters economic growth, and allow individuals, families, and employers across Mississippi to keep more of their hard-earned taxpayer dollars. The plan is projected to save taxpayers $400 million per year once fully phased in.

One of the most pro-growth aspects of Lt. Gov. Reeves’ proposal is its phase out of the state’s franchise tax, one of the most economical damaging taxes a state could have on its books. David Brunori, professor of public policy at George Washington University and Forbes contributor, explains why franchise taxes are so harmful and even worse than traditional corporate taxes:

“The Mississippi tax is essentially a tax on capital. That is ludicrous in a global economy. Companies in Mississippi pay $2.50 per $1,000 of capital or property, whichever is greater. There is no limit. The more capital employed, the higher the tax.”

Click here to read the rest of the column on

Photo Credit: 
Ana Feliciano

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Boomer Brown

Reducing taxes incents spending and investing which is good for all.


This is not the global economy, it's America....something Grover forgot about...You give more and more to Corporations and they just move it over seas....Where is it we live again Grover?

Government Waste Wednesdays: 370k Spent to Find Mom Loves Family Dog and Children Equally

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Wednesday, February 11th, 2015, 10:08 AM PERMALINK

Kids - worried that mom is paying more attention to Fido than she is to you? Well, it turns out the federal government is also interested in this issue – so interested they wasted almost $370,000 on a study to find out who mom loves more. In all, the National Health Institute gave scientists $371,026 to determine whether mothers have the same reaction when looking at photos of their dogs and their children according to retired Senator Coburn’s 2014 Wastebook.

As part of the study, researchers examined and compared brain patterns when mothers see photos of their dog and their children. They found “Mothers reported similar emotional ratings for their child and dog”. According to Senator Coburn’s Wastebook the grant money was intended to go towards “addiction research”, but this was clearly not the case.

This isn’t the first time NIH has wasted taxpayer dollars on bizarre and unnecessary studies. Over the years they have wasted $250,000 on a website showcasing the First Lady’s garden, $1.75 million on a “Hollywood Liaison”, and $325,525 on a study that found couples have happier marriages if they calmed down faster during arguments with their husbands.   

In today’s tight budgetary climate, it is unacceptable that NIH spends taxpayer dollars on such frivolous and comical studies. In fact, the NIH recently complained that budget cuts had delayed the development of an Ebola vaccine. Given they clearly fail to prioritize grant money, it is likely that extra funding would do little towards producing life-saving vaccines. 

Unfortunately for taxpayers, NIH’s wasteful spending doesn’t end there. Next, scientists hope to discover how men and women without children react to babies and pets. 

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Illinois Gov. Rauner Ends the Forced Unionization of Public Employees

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Posted by Will Upton on Tuesday, February 10th, 2015, 4:01 PM PERMALINK

Americans for Tax Reform and the Center for Worker Freedom applaud Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner for ending the practice of forced unionization for state employees. Enacted by executive order, the Washington Free Beacon notes that Gov. Rauner’s action means: “…public sector workers will no longer be forced to join government unions, such as the politically powerful American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and Service Employees International Union (SEIU), as a condition of employment.”

Matt Patterson, the Executive Director at the Center for Worker Freedom, stated:

Politicians in both red and blue states are at last coming to a consensus that workers deserve free labor markets. 

In the United States, no one should be forced to join or pay dues to any organization, including a labor union.  Gov. Rauner's actions are at odds with labor bosses, who rely on government power to force workers into their ranks.  Fortunately for the rest of us, the Governor's actions are entirely constituent with the U.S. Constitution and freedom of assembly.

The move against forced unionization in Illinois government comes on the heels of a major effort in Kentucky to enact local Right to Work laws. As a state with strong home rule laws, county governments in Kentucky have tremendous power in how local government is run. While the state government remains divided over Right to Work, several counties have undertaken the enactment of local versions of the law – a law that has been passed in 24 states. Writing in Forbes, the Center for Worker Freedom’s Matt Patterson points out:

In a stroke of genius and bravery, county leaders in Kentucky have decided that right-to-work absolutely falls under the “economic development” rubric, because right-to-work attracts businesses and boosts job growth; according to Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data, between 1990 and 2014 jobs grew more than twice as fast in right-to-work states compared to their less-free brethren.

So Kentucky county officials figure they can and should pass right-to-work at the county level. And as of this writing, five have done so, a pro-worker blitzkrieg that advanced through Todd, Fulton, Warren, Simpson and Hardin counties in barely one month as last year gave way to this.

Most importantly, Gov. Rauner has extended the freedom of association to Illinois state employees, giving them the freedom to choose whether or not they wish to be a part of a public employee union. A right that is all-the-more important when one realizes most Illinois unions fail to meet typical non-profit standards for spending. The Illinois Policy Institute points out:

Nonprofits in Illinois typically spend around 90 percent of their budget on their missions, with the remainder going to overhead and administration.

Meanwhile, all but one of Illinois’ major government unions fail to reach the Better Business Bureau’s standard, by the unions’ own accounting.

For instance, the Illinois Education Association, or IEA, the state’s biggest teachers union, devoted just 26 percent of its budget to representation in 2014. Nearly 70 percent went to administration and overhead and 3 percent went to political activities, according to LM-2 reports filed with the U.S. Department of Labor in 2013.

Americans for Tax Reform encourages more governors across the country to follow Gov. Rauner’s lead and end the forced unionization of public employees.

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ATR Supports Tax Relief for Working Parents

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Tuesday, February 10th, 2015, 1:36 PM PERMALINK

Last week, H.R. 750, the “Family Care Savings Act” was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation will make improvements to dependent care flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and help Americans manage the rising costs of raising a family. ATR endorses this bill and urges members of the House to support this legislation.

H.R. 750, introduced by Representative Patrick McHenry (R- N.C.) and Representative Grace Meng (D- N.Y.) raises the cap on dependent care FSAs from $5,000 to $10,000 and indexes it to inflation after the first year of enactment. These FSAs allow employees to save part of their pre-tax earnings for specific expenses including medical and dependent care. Dependent care FSAs can be used for children under the age of 13, anyone who is physically or mentally unable to care for themselves, or any adult whose care is predominantly paid for by another person.

This legislation will provide a much needed update by increasing the current cap which was set almost 30 years ago when dependent care FSAs were first created in 1986. H.R. 750 will improve dependent care FSAs and help families plan and budget for the expenses of caring for children, disabled spouses, or elderly parents.

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ATR Opposes House Bill 170's Massive Gas Tax Increase in Georgia

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Posted by Paul Blair on Tuesday, February 10th, 2015, 7:48 AM PERMALINK

In the aftermath of a joint legislative study committee report on transportation, Georgia lawmakers have spent the last month figuring out how to extract more money from taxpayers to pay for transportation projects. The report called for at least $1-1.5 billion in additional spending annually. To address “the full universe of transportation needs, including establishment of passenger rail systems,” the report claimed the state would need between $3.9 and $5.4 billion annually, constituting a 20 percent increase in the total state budget.

Georgia House Bill 170, which is supported by Republican Gov. Nathan Deal and House Speaker David Ralston, would raise at least $1 billion per year by making a number of changes to the state gas tax. Gasoline in Georgia is subjected to an excise tax of 7.5 cents per gallon, a 4% sales tax and in most places another local sales tax of 3%-4%. Under H.B. 170, this mix of taxes would be converted to a 29.2 cents per gallon tax, indexed to inflation. This is a tax increase that rises year by year. 

As Tom Crawford with the Gainesville Times noted, “the current mix of excise and sales taxes on gasoline totals roughly 27 cents per gallon.” By indexing the gas tax to inflation and increasing the tax by more than 2 cents per gallon, H.B. 170 is clearly a tax increase.

Drivers of hybrids aren’t forgotten. The bill imposes a car tax hike on alternative fuel vehicles of between $200-$300 per year, indexed to inflation. Virginia’s 2013 transportation tax hike did this as well until Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe repealed the tax less than 6 months later.

H.B. 170 also engages in an inventive gimmick to generate $500 million in new revenue. By immediately absorbing local gasoline sales tax revenue, the state will now collect and spend money otherwise collected and spent by localities. Most localities spend this money on a bevy of non-transportation needs, like education. Absent the willpower to cut spending though, it is likely local governments will consider tax hikes in the future.

Upon the expiration of local sales taxes on gasoline, H.B. 170 permits localities to raise the local excise tax on gasoline by up to 3 cents per gallon before requiring that further gas tax hikes be approved by referendum for a maximum of 6 cents per gallon in local taxes. This sets in motion future tax hikes, not all of which even need voter approval.

While we take no position on the state absorbing local tax revenue streams, directing gas tax revenue to transportation projects instead of unrelated spending programs like education, should be applauded. In 2014, by a 80-20 margin Wisconsin voters passed a ballot initiative requiring gas tax revenue be spent on transportation. Consumers' expectations on gas tax revenue are clear: spend it on transportation and nothing else. Unfortunately, the definition of "transportation" is broad and encompasses a number of expensive projects, all of which may not actually alleviate traffic to improve anyone's commute to work. 

So what would the total gas tax bite be if H.B. 170 passed in Georgia? 

Tax Collector

Present Law

H.B. 170


Total Tax Possible


18.4 cents/gallon



18.4 cents/gallon


7.2 cents/gallon + 4% sales tax

29.2 cents/gallon

Chained to CPI

*29.2 cents/gallon


3%-4% sales tax

Up to 3 cents/gallon

Up to 6 cents/gallon

6 cents/gallon


45.4 cents/gallon


*53.6 cents/gallon

*Chaining the tax to inflation guarantees additional increases
Americans for Tax Reform opposes H.B. 170. Not only does the bill result in an immediate gas tax hike, it gives local governments free rein to raise local gas taxes in the future. The total tax on gasoline in Georgia could range as high as 53.6 cents per gallon, well above the U.S. average of 48.29 cents per gallon. If implemented, H.B. 170 could make gasoline sold in Georgia, the 9th highest taxed gasoline in the nation. Indexing the gas tax to inflation would make it worse. 

ATR urges the legislature to revisit its transportation spending priorities and reject all gas tax hikes on consumers. 

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They are trying to sneak this through like they did TSPLOST - we senior citizens simply CANNOT afford to pay any more taxes than we already are.

Joel Brothers

If they raise gas taxes, I will do everything legally in my power to see that they are unemployed come next election. Enough is enough.

Governor Paul LePage Calls for Elimination of Maine's Income Tax

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Posted by Paul Blair on Tuesday, February 10th, 2015, 6:15 AM PERMALINK

In his 2015 State of the State Address, Gov. Paul LePage (R-Maine) called for an elimination of the state income tax "once and for all." A significant potion of LePage's speech was dedicated to a tax reform proposal that he announced last month. Here are some highlights:

"Maine is currently not competitive nationally or globally. Our tax system is antiquated. We must modernize it.

My fellow Mainers, you work hard for your paycheck. The government takes your earnings, and you have no control over how it is spent.

You earned it. You should keep it!

An income tax cut puts money back in your pocket. It is a pay raise for all working Mainers...

This plan is different from past plans. It is not a tax shift. It is a tax cut for all Mainers.

My vision is a Maine with no income tax. But I’m no magician. It takes time.

When I took office, Maine’s top income tax rate was 8.5 percent—one of the highest in the nation.

We reduced the rate to 7.95 percent—a baby step. This plan cuts it to 5.75 percent—a 40 percent decrease in the income tax since I took office. That’s one big step.

A young married couple, both teachers with one child, claiming a standard deduction, would get a $1,500 pay raise.

That’s a mortgage payment. That’s few tanks of heating oil. It’s several car payments or back-to-school clothes for the kids. It’s real money. It makes a real difference...

This plan reduces the tax burden on Maine families and small businesses by $300 million. That’s a real pay raise for the Maine people!..

There are 9 states with no income tax. 19 other states are working to reduce or eliminate the income tax. Maine is leading the nation with our bold plan. We’re the first out of the chute...

Maine’s corporate tax is a job killer. My plan cuts it. We also eliminate the Alternative Minimum Tax."

Gov. LePage's plan would reduce the top corporate tax rate from 8.93% to 6.75% and exempt the first $48,000 of income for a family of four from the state's income tax. He also eliminates the death tax and the tax on pensions. While his plan eliminates a number of exemptions and adds the sales tax to a number of services, this $219 million revenue increase is more than offset by his other tax reductions. LePage's plan reduces net taxes by $300 million annually when fully phased in. 

Click here to read Governor LePage's budget. 

This isn't Gov. LePage's first tax reform proposal. As he noted in his speech, in 2011, LePage successfully reduced the state income tax top rate from 8.5 percent to 7.95 percent. His most recent plan eliminates a range of credits and deductions and when fully phased in will result in $1.2 billion in income tax cuts over the 2018-2019 biennium.

Source: State of Maine Biennial Budget Briefing 

LePage's plan also reduces the number of corporate income tax brackets and reduces the top rate from 8.93 percent to  6.75 percent by 2020, resulting in a $50 million tax cut by 2019. 

While the long list of tax cuts and changes to the tax code are an important step in simplifying Maine's tax code to make it flatter, fairer, and lower, perhaps the most significant proposal came at the end of LePage's State of the State Address:

"We must make sure the income tax keeps going down every year until it is gone.

I ask for a constitutional amendment that will direct all growth in revenue to go toward eliminating the income tax—once and for all."

Americans for Tax Reform is a big proponent of revenue triggers, which pay for long term tax cuts through economic growth. Instead of immediate tax cuts that could require spending restraint or tax shifting, revenue triggers like the one Gov. LePage has called for set, as a matter of law, new revenue generated through economic growth aside for rate reductions. Instead of states squandering budget surpluses on long term spending programs, all new state revenue above an amount set by the state is calculated as a percentage of a tax cut (income in this case). 

North Carolina established revenue triggers as a means for reducing the state's corporate rate and Kansas enacted revenue triggers for the income, corporate, and banking tax. In Kansas, it will take the House, Senate, and Governor to reverse the long term goal of eliminating each of these taxes. For more information on revenue triggers, read our brief here

We applaud Governor Paul LePage's bold tax reform proposal and encourage the legislature to adopt both it and his plan to fully phase out the income tax.

Photo Credit: 
Chris Sweet, Maine Public Broadcasting

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Members of Congress Show Support for Telecommunications Act Update

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Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Monday, February 9th, 2015, 5:01 PM PERMALINK

On Thursday, February 5, members of Congress and concerned citizens banded together to show their support for modernizing the legislation that governs the communications and technology sector.

Americans for Tax Reform highlighted the 19 year legislative lag by bringing a full replica of the Back to the Future DeLorean to Capitol Hill.  Grover Norquist, President of Americans for Tax Reform, tweeted where the DeLorean was and praised Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) for their leadership on the #CommActUpdate throughout the day.

Members, Hill staff, reporters, trade groups, and passers-by who came to check out the DeLorean, got a handout on Telecommunications Act modernization and were encouraged to tweet their pictures with the handles #CommActUpdate and #19YrsAgo.

Several members of both chambers showed their support.  Examples include, Chairmen John Thune (R-S,D.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) stopped by, and Sen. Thune tweeted a picture of himself in the car.


Washington Post reporters Ed O’Keefe and Aaron Blake tweeted a photo of Representative Farenthold Blake Farenthold’s (R-Texas) in the car, with O’Keefe calling it the “Photo of the day!”

Will Anderson, Senior Legislative Assistant to Rep. David Scott (D-GA), and Corey Jacobson, who worked for former Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), tweeted their photos with the car, with Jacobson saying, “Creative campaign for #CommActUpdate: parking the DeLorean near Congress to remind us how tech has changed in 19yrs.”

The event received enormous positive feedback from the press including, The Washington Post, Roll Call, and the Daily Signal. 

The Washington Post's story “Congress is stuck in the past, says congressman in DeLorean time machine,” featured a photo of Representative Farenthold (R-Texas) in the car.

Roll Call also reported on the event in an article, “What Was The Deal With That DeLorean You Might Have Spotted Today?”

The Daily Signal came out to catch some video footage of McAuliffe and Marty McFly, and has a great collection of twitter photos to scroll through.

 Katie McAuliffe, Executive Director of Digital Liberty, described the importance of this issue in an Op-Ed for The Hill that ran the same day.  McAuliffe explains,

 “Our communications laws have not seen an overhaul in 19 years. To say that a lot has happened in 19 years would be an understatement. The last time our nation’s telecommunications regulations were updated, Google didn't exist.”

Americans for Tax Reform brought awareness to this issue by bringing a replica time machine to the Hill.  This event displayed both how far technology has come and how far legislation that regulated technology has to come. 

You can read Katie McAuliffe’s Op-Ed here.  

You can read more about the event here.  

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ATR Supports Permanent Small Business Expensing Bill

Posted by Ryan Ellis on Monday, February 9th, 2015, 10:33 AM PERMALINK

This week, the U.S. House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 636, “America’s Small Business Tax Relief Act.” Small businesses are the backbone of the economy and a pathway by which millions achieve the American dream. H.R. 636 will provide important tax relief to small business across the nation. ATR supports this legislation and urges members to vote yes.

H.R. 636, sponsored by Representative Patrick J. Tiberi (R-Ohio) expands and updates Section 179 of the tax code to provide small business owners, farmers and ranchers with regulatory relief that will help reduce the cost of capital and allow them to more easily invest their hard-earned resources back into their businesses.

Specifically, this legislation will make permanent a tax provision allowing small employers to expense up to $500,000 of equipment purchases per year. If current law is not changed, small businesses can only expense $25,000 of purchases for things like computers, office furniture, manufacturing equipment, etc.  The rest must be subject to a slow, multi-year deduction process known as "depreciation."

For many Americans, starting a business is the reward for years of hard work, good decisions and innovative ideas. Each year, millions of Americans across the country invest countless hours, take out loans and enlist the help of friends and family in order to start their own business. This legislation will provide these small business owners with much needed tax relief that will help put them on the pathway to success. 

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Eagle 1

If you own a business and buy a piece of capital, even a car or truck, it is an expense and should not be taxable. Does not matter if the company has 1 or 10000 employees. The law should be evenly applied. You obviously do not understand these things. Learn a little about accounting before you advertise your stupidity for all to see.


Most Americans have to buy a car to go to work, We do not get to write it off...For some reason Grover thinks that whatever a business person needs the tax payers should pay for.......what a joke!!!

Politicians Claim the Highway Trust Fund is Broke, But Spend Money on Squirrel Sanctuaries and Bike Paths

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Posted by Dorothy Jetter on Monday, February 9th, 2015, 9:30 AM PERMALINK

 Annually, the federal government takes $39 billion from taxpayers for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF) and now they’re asking for even more.  

Since 2008, the Highway Trust Fund has accumulated $55 billion in debt.  The HTF must be reformed to ensure that taxpayer money is being protected and spent wisely.  

Washington politicians want more revenue for the highway trust fund by raising the gas tax that helps fund roads and bridges, and facilitates drivers paying for this service.  They claim there is not enough money in the HTF to fund these projects.  However, spending habits say otherwise. Funds from the HTF have been used on a range of unrelated and frivolous low priority plans such as “bicycle paths, walking trails and environmental projects.”

Instead of raising taxes, the government should simply cut waste. In fact, according to Cato’s Chris Edwards, a full one quarter of highway trust fund spending is spent on non-highway purposes.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

“Federal law requires states to use a fraction of their federal highway funds each year on projects that enhance the transportation experience rather than on actual highways.” 

Senator Coburn (R-Okla.) criticized an $112,000 grant for a white squirrel sanctuary and $198,000 for two driving simulators.  These grants were considered enhancement projects intended for “educational uses.”

Examples in recent years also include nearly $900,000 to resurface a bike trail in Los Angeles and almost $6 million in funding for a boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach, Del. 

After spending countless millions of taxpayer dollars on projects clearly unrelated to highways and transit, politicians are asking for even more

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, explains:

“Before even considering increasing the gas tax, politicians should implement reforms to ensure that current gas tax revenue is spent efficiently.”

The Highway Trust Fund certainly needs to be reformed, but the federal government does not need any more taxpayer money to do it.  Perhaps if the HTF spent less money sheltering squirrels, they would be able to fix the 25% of American bridges that are deficient. 

Photo Credit: 
Doug Brown

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Tammy Dorsey Berthaut

Tax, spend, tax more, spend more...cry broke. The highways should be left to the states.


a sanctuary for an animal that is the cause of roughly 70% of electrical outages in a majority of the country? wonderful...

Helaine Chersonsky

Me, too.

IRS Agents Caught Snooping on Taxpayer Data Rehired

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Posted by Alexander Hendrie on Friday, February 6th, 2015, 3:08 PM PERMALINK

The IRS is failing to perform basic due diligence in its rehiring decisions, a report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) shows. The agency has rehired employees who engaged in misconduct during previous stints of employment, including unauthorized access of taxpayer accounts, failure to file or pay taxes, and fraud and falsification of employment forms.

But the portion of the report that ostensibly provides details of the breaches of taxpayer information has been redacted:

From this sample of rehired employees, the IRS also found “an additional 108 of the rehired employees had prior substantiated employment conduct issues.” Violations included 11 employees found to have made ‘unauthorized access of taxpayer accounts, four that committed fraud and 17 that had falsified employment forms.

As TIGTA points out, rehiring these employees presents a danger to taxpayers:

“Rehiring prior employees who have experienced conduct and performance issues during their IRS employment presents increased risk to the IRS and taxpayers.”

It is alarming that the IRS is rehiring employees that have inappropriately accessed taxpayer data, given the agency’s history of mishandling sensitive information. Just last year, the IRS admitted it had illegally leaked the confidential tax information of the National Organization for Marriage. For its crime, the agency paid a token fine of $50,000.

"Following previous scandals, the IRS insisted they would deal harshly with IRS staff who abuse the privacy of American taxpayers," said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform. "We now know what that means: they would give them a job.”

In its response to the report, the IRS claims that the problem has been resolved. However, TIGTA directly refutes this claim. In fact the report finds that a number of cases occurred after the IRS supposedly resolved this problem:

“The IRS stated that it completely revamped its process in 2012 and appropriately considers prior conduct and performance in hiring decisions. However, we remain concerned because IRS records indicate that in 2012 and 2013 it hired individuals with prior significant IRS-substantiated conduct and performance issues.”​

See also: 
IRS Chief: "We Still Have Applications That Were Running When JFK Was President"
IRS Breaks Law, Refuses to Produce Tax Complexity Reports
IRS Watchdog: Elderly and Disabled Taxpayers Not Allowed to Leave Messages



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