Notes on the IRS 88

We have a faithful reader who spent a long career at the Criminal Investigation (CI) Division of the IRS. Our reader prefers to remain nameless but he knows whereof he speaks and he has been supplying us with a steady stream of commentary on the IRS scandal, expanding like the universe. He writes to comment on today’s update to the scandal:

An administrative note about today’s news and the 88 IRS employees involved in the targeting. It’s already been reported that employees who signed off on letters or made inquiries reported to four or five different managers. The Service does things by “group,” with employees – Revenue Agents, Revenue Officers, and Special Agents assigned to groups under a Group Manager. That’s now a Supervisory Special Agent in CI, but everybody still uses the Group Manager title in conversation. Groups are usually 10 – 15, with 11 or 12 agents being pretty common. So, having five different managers would imply that at least 50 and as many as 75 agents were involved at some point. Over time, with people coming and going, 88’s not unreasonable.

What this means, though, is that policy was spread over five groups. This isn’t just something that happened with one or two people in one group, or even a “rogue” GM. Somebody set a policy for an entire office, and made sure at least five Groups got the word. That could only have happened in writing, and must have come from at least two levels above the GM. The level above is a Branch Chief, and Branch Chiefs don’t make policy either. Neither does the level above that. Again, I don’t know exactly how Exempt Organizations is structured, but in CI, a Branch Manager (the Assistant Special Agent in Charge) wouldn’t have more than four groups. Policy comes from DC.

Plus, IRS tries very hard to make policy uniform, so people in New York can’t point to Minnesota and say, “you’re treating those gophers differently.” That’s practically the whole justification for the otherwise completely useless Department of Justice Tax Division. Somebody in DC made this particular policy, passed it down, made sure that every EO Group in Cincinnati was treating every Tea Party/Patriot/etc. applicant the same way, and every employee got the word.

For DC, incidentally, read “District of Columbia.”

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