Raise your hand if you like the IRS.

Much as expected, I didn’t see many hands go up affirming the Internal Revenue Service. 

Let’s face it, the agency isn’t that likable. We all, presumably, pay income taxes to the agency and file returns every year. People know when they get something in the mail from the IRS it’s likely not good news. Most understand the power of the agency if a person violates the tax code whether purposefully or inadvertently.

In recent days there is more reason to be skeptical of the agency and those that run it. First, news broke of the IRS targeting conservative organizations seeking tax exempt status. Then came the news that the agency had blown millions of taxpayer dollars on a conference for some of its workers.

The targeting scandal also involved the IRS requiring some applicants for tax-exempt status to turn over membership lists, names of employers of individual members and minutes of meetings. Those demands are a big stretch on the agency’s part especially since the tactics appear to be political in nature from a group that should be impartial.

The agency spent at least $49 million in conference expenses from fiscal 2010 to 2012, according to reports. Approximately $4.1 million was spent at a California conference that included taxpayer-funded gifts and upgrades to lavish hotel suites. All the organizer of the event could say in his defense during a congressional hearing Thursday was that the organization used poor judgment. That came even after the revelation that had the conference been held in Orlando, Fla. more than $1 million would have been saved in travel expenses.

As Jim Mora might say, “poor judgment, poor judgment? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

New acting IRS commissioner Daniel Werfel said Thursday that to regain taxpayers’ trust he must show that the agency is impartial, manages its costs well and does not make any personal tax information public.

That’s a duh statement if there ever was one. Does it have to be explained? It shouldn’t. Taxpayers expect common sense and integrity out of the agencies and people that serve.

Poor judgment is not the problem. Arrogance and abuse of power is the issue. Unfortunately, it appears to be flowing from the elitist top of government down as elected leaders, subordinates and agencies thumb their noses at policies, procedures and laws on an almost daily basis. 

Do you trust the IRS?

I didn’t think so.

Do you trust government?

I hope not. 

We’ll all be better served when big media (mainstream media) does its job keeping an eye on the fox in the hen house. Recent reporting on the IRS has shown that to be true. Maybe it will prompt some conscience minded individuals to become journalists again instead of simply mouthpieces for the powers that be regurgitating the party line. 

Until then, watch and listen with discerning eyes and ears. You are your own first line of defense against an intrusive, abusive government. Remember that the next time that you vote.

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