In her weekly Wall Street Journal column Kim Strassel turns her attention to the IRS — the cases of Matt Taibbi (discussed here yesterday) and Gary Shapley (discussed in the adjacent post this morning). Strassel notes that Taibbi “may have been targeted by the IRS in retribution for documenting the joint censorship efforts of Big Tech and the federal government.” Coincidences abound. In particular:
Mr. Taibbi in March told the House Judiciary Committee a disturbing tale: an IRS agent had made a surprise visit to his New Jersey residence on March 9—the same day Mr. Taibbi testified before another House committee about censorship at Twitter. The journalist was subsequently told there were “identity theft” concerns with his 2021 and 2018 tax returns. The 2018 claim particularly troubled Mr. Taibbi, since his accountants possessed documentation showing the return had been electronically accepted, and neither they nor he had ever received notification of a problem. Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan demanded the IRS explain.
The IRS earlier this month provided Mr. Jordan documents that only add to the appearance of targeting. It seems the IRS officially opened its examination of Mr. Taibbi’s return on Dec. 24—not only Christmas Eve but a Saturday. What could be urgent enough to inspire a government employee to work overtime? That was the day Mr. Taibbi capped three weeks of reporting with his ninth installment of the Twitter files, an exposé of a wide sweep of federal agencies working with social-media companies to censor online speech.
Documents also show that in addition to the unannounced house call, an IRS agent dived deep into Mr. Taibbi’s personal life, compiling a file of his voter-registration records, whether he had a concealed-weapon permit and even whether he possessed hunting or fishing licenses, among other data. The file contained his Wikipedia page detailing his Twitter files work. The IRS launched this excavation even though Mr. Taibbi didn’t owe the IRS any money.
More notable is what the IRS didn’t provide the House: any proof of letters it claimed to have sent to Mr. Taibbi alerting him to the purported 2018 problem. It also failed to cough up internal communications related to the case, despite Mr. Jordan’s demand and Mr. Taibbi’s signed waiver to allow Congress to see information related to his return.
Whether Mr. Taibbi is a target of harassment or not, these IRS tactics ought to alarm lawmakers. How many other Americans—those who don’t even owe the feds money—have an IRS file detailing their gun-permit status? How does that relate to tax liability? Federal tax forms require preparers to list their names and phone numbers. Is it IRS practice to jump to an investigation before picking up the phone? Is it now standard for an agent to show up unannounced at your door—in absence of any proof of lawbreaking?
The misuse of the IRS for political purposes is an old story. No one at the IRS will ever pay a price for its continuing misconduct insofar as it is directed at anyone who annoys the Democrats and the deep state. The question raised by Taibbi’s case is who’s zoomin’ who — i.e., who sicced the IRS on Taibbi? It would be nice to know.
Taibbi talked about the IRS matter yesterday in an interview with Briahna Joy Gray and Robby Soave for The Hill’s program Rising.