A Deal with the Devil: Nonprofits, Social Movements, and Your Taxes
by Rebecca Gordon
As taxpayers tallied their contributions to nonprofit organizations last month, few probably reflected on the fact that the tax code, by shielding large wealthy foundations from taxes, has historically allowed funders to capture social movements, often stopping them from making demands for drastic change in society.
SOURCE: The New Republic
The History of Consumption Taxes Shows GOP Won't Eliminate IRS
Consumption taxes are successful when they target luxury purchases and the rich. A broad-based consumption tax like the one proposed by House Republicans to replace the income tax would be suicidal to even bring to a vote.
SOURCE: Texas Tribune
Has the IRS Abandoned Enforcing Ban on Church Political Activity?
Evangelical megachurches are increasingly confident that they can directly intervene in political races, declaring one candidate "ordained" and another "demonic," without anyone doing anything about it.
SOURCE: Made By History at the Washington Post
Democrats Must Counter GOP Hysteria about "Armies" of Tax Collectors
by Joseph J. Thorndike
Emphasizing the idea of "fiscal citizenship," of all Americans paying the fair share of taxes they owe, is the solution to fearmongering about jackbooted tax collectors.
SOURCE: Washington Post
America's Taxes Used to be Public Information – The Rich Stopped That
Calvin Coolidge's Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon briefly accepted public disclosure of tax bills in exchange for a lower top rate. The fact that the ultra-rich, like him, were shown to pay lower effective rates, ended the practice.
A Tax Day Confessional from a Failed Tax Protester
by Rebecca Gordon
Reflections on the history of tax-based civil disobedience.
SOURCE: The Atlantic
How the U.S. Tax Code Privileges White Families
by Dorothy A. Brown
The history of the married-filing-jointly tax return is one of affluent white families securing advantages through the tax code that working class families, including most Black taxpayers, were unable to realize. After the expansion of income taxation during World War II, this disparity became a significant source of inequality.
House Committee Uses Century-Old Provision in the Tax Code to Demand Trump’s Taxes From IRS
The provision dates in some form to the Teapot Dome scandal of Warren G. Harding’s administration.
How Do You Fire a Special Prosecutor? Ask Harry Truman.
by Andrew Coan
The Truman tax scandals teach an important lesson about the relationship between special prosecutors and democratic politics.
SOURCE: AHA Today
The surprising origins of the income tax
by Robin Einhorn
Instead of class struggle, sectionalism might be the best way to understand the history of the income tax in the United States.
Julian Zelizer: Fix Our Tax Headaches
Julian Zelizer is a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. He is the author of "Jimmy Carter" and "Governing America."(CNN) -- Something good can come of the bad news about taxes. Last week there were more revelations about who knew what, and what actually occurred, when the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative organizations that were seeking tax-exempt status. Former IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman told Congress he was "dismayed" about what had happened.Taxes were front and center once again when Apple CEO Tim Cook was forced to respond to a congressional report that the company had avoided paying billions of dollars in taxes.The controversies generated a big stir in Washington and the news media, though it is unclear that the general public is quite as interested as the politicians and the reporters. Nonetheless, at least for now, both stories have produced intense congressional investigations to find out who was responsible for any wrongdoing.
SOURCE: CS Monitor
Jonathan Zimmerman: Politicizing the IRS is a Bipartisan Tradition
Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is the author of “Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory” (Yale University Press).Does the Internal Revenue Service scandal conjure “unpleasant echoes” of Richard Nixon?Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) of Tennessee said last week that it did. So did a host of other GOP critics, who linked the recent targeting of conservative groups by the IRS to Nixon’s use of the agency as a weapon against his “enemies list.”Liberals quickly replied that President Obama had pledged to root out political bias from the IRS, offering his full cooperation in the ongoing investigation. And whereas Nixon expressly ordered the IRS to harass his foes, there’s still no evidence that Mr. Obama himself even knew about the IRS practice until media outlets reported it.But both sides are ignoring the sordid politicization of the IRS before Richard Nixon, when Democrats – not Republicans – were in power. Despite what you may have heard, no single party owns an historical monopoly on IRS-related sleaze. And that’s precisely why we all need to be vigilant in guarding against it....
How Did the IRS Get Investigatory Authority, Anyway?
by Douglas M. Charles
Mobster Frank Costello testifying in front of the Kefauver Committee. Credit: Wiki Commons.The IRS "scandal" involving the “targeting” of conservative Tea Party groups is metastasizing. Congressional Republicans are seeking to open a broader investigation into the agency, with which, according to the New York Times, they "hope to ensare the White House."But an understanding of the true history of IRS scandals -- as documented in the mid-1970s Church Committee reports -- might better inform our understanding of this contemporary story.
SOURCE: National Review
Victor Davis Hanson: Obama’s Second-Term Embarrassments
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His new book, The Savior Generals, will appear later this month from Bloomsbury Press....As the congressional hearings on Benghazi were taking place last week, we also learned that the IRS, administered by the Department of the Treasury, has been going after conservative groups in a politicized manner that we have not seen since Richard Nixon’s White House. There was no evidence that any of these conservative associations had taken thousands of dollars in improper tax deductions — in the manner of former Treasury secretary Timothy Geithner, the one-time overseer of the IRS.Instead, groups with suspiciously American names like “Patriot” or “Tea Party” prompted IRS partisans to scrutinize their tax information in a way that they would not have for the tax-exempt MoveOn.org or the Obama-affiliated Organizing for Action.
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