Punish Negligent Officials at the IRS

Internal Revenue Service officials are not known for handing out breaks. But they have been doing just that for non-citizens, according to a Treasury Department inspector general.

Income tax filers who are not citizens must obtain tax identification numbers to claim refunds. Applications for the numbers are processed by the IRS.

But according to the inspector general, the IRS processing center in Austin, Texas, is “an environment which discourages employees from detecting fraudulent applications.” Again, preventing fraud was discouraged by officials at the center.

IRS supervisors at the center encourage processing of as many ID applications as possible, according to the inspector general’s report. Use of some fraud-detection methods was discontinued.

As the inspector general pointed out, approving fraudulent applications for IDs has enormous ramifications, not just in terms of lost revenue for the government.

ID numbers provided by the IRS are used in some states to obtain driver’s licenses – one of the first steps used by foreign terrorists infiltrating the United States.

One member of Congress, U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas, already has called for the resignation of IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman over the scandal. Obviously, Shulman’s involvement, if any, should be determined. At some point, however, IRS officials responsible for the scandal should be fired and, if crimes were committed, prosecuted.