Profiling, It’s Only Fair When It’s Done To Others.

Conservative groups are having a political pay day over Internal Revenue Service investigations of them.  Conservative groups may have legitimate grievances,  but it may not be simple to confirm.

If it has been or is happening, it could have a political motive.  But, it may also be the product of data mining.  If it is data mining, the origin is what we would call efficiency.

The same issue arose in the selection of people to screen at airports.  Men who looked like they may be Muslim were targeted for a while.  We all know why, but that does not mean it was a productive use of security personnel.

I understand the IRS uses data mining also for selecting tax returns to dig into.  For example, home offices is a deduction often used and often abused.  For that reason, a home office deduction will more likely trigger a second look than a return without this deduction.

I’ve heard one is more likely subject to audit if he/she does not employ a tax professional on the return.  That’s because it is more efficient use of IRS emplyee’s time to look at likely targets.  If the IRS does not catch people who cheat on taxes, what is the point of paying people to look.

I remember any number of liberal people who believe they were audited because of donations to liberal groups.  I can’t recall it ever being confirmed the IRS audited on the basis of political leanings.  That doesn’t mean it never happened.

47 Responses

  1. Henry

    Jon:“I remember any number of liberal people who believe they were audited because of donations to liberal groups.”

    Their conspiracy theory festered in some of their minds until they could return the favor even though only perceived, not real.

    Of course, we get the standard deflection. It is the conservatives fault.

    1. Henry 2:13 “Of course, we get the standard deflection. It is the conservatives fault.”

      I don’t actually blame conservatives for all of our problems, I just blame the problems they have caused, and could have avoided.

      1. Dan


        Do you feel a one party system would end all problems with the country? Diversity of people and ideas is what made the country great. The NAZIs had an effective one party system. They burned books and dogmatically followed their leader on just about every issue (otherwise they were executed). I blame the socialists progressives (both Repubs and Dems) for our country’s problems. Both parties have corrupt illegimate leaders that drag our system down. Both parties have contributed to skyrocketing debt. Both parties have been caught in scandals. What we need is term limits.

        1. Michael Ross

          “(both Repubs and Dems) ” We already have a one party system. The difference is in rhetoric only and the groups of voters they are trying to attract. Two sides of the same coin. A different design on the surface for public consumption, but made of the same stuff on the inside

  2. Keep in mind that only a third of groups were ID’d as conservative; the other two-thirds were everything else including liberal groups. Also, about 70% of the conservative groups identified actually WERE using their fundraising for political purposes so they shouldn’t complain because they were caught doing what they shouldn’t have been doing.

    1. Michael Ross

      Yes, and I can vote myself a piece if your paycheck and if you don’t cough it up, get government thugs to take you away. Good job “realist”, they got you just where they want you.

    2. Dan

      ITS STILL ILLEGAL! If it was only 0.1% being targeted…it’s still illegal. It doesn’t matter if the IRS was targeting libs or conservs…It’s illegal. I can’t understand why this issue is being politicized??? Should we just dismiss this and turned a blind eye and pretend that it won’t ever happen again… Really? The people responsible for targeting American taxpayers should be thrown in jail. They broke a LAW.

      1. And what law exactly would that be? If we can torture people, then we should be able to find people who are using collected funds illegally.

        1. Dan

          Sixteenth Amendment
          Article I, Section 8, Clause 1:

          The Congress shall have Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States.


          Is your lack of knowledge of the U.S. Constitution a reflection of a failure of the Minnesota school system or the North Dakota system? I really hope you are in Minnesota since my boys are in the North Dakota system.

  3. Michael Ross

    This post is a good example of one purpose of the IRS. That is to break us up into quarreling, squabbling factions. Libs against conservatives, black against white, men against women, Christians against Moslem against Jew against atheist. We didn’t “need” The IRS, federal income tax, or Federal Reserve until 1913. Look what they have brought us: The greatest pile of debt ever seen; A 97% erosion in the purchasing power of the U.S. $; and a global empire with almost continuous war. And the one presidential candidate that opposed all of these, Ron Paul, was “unelectable”.

    1. Actually, the debt has fallen considerably since Obama took over according to what I have seen the last few days. But don’t let me deter you in your longing for the good ole days that never were.

      1. Henry

        r:“Actually, the debt has fallen considerably since Obama took over”

        I think the terms “debt” and “deficit” are being confused by you. As long as there is a running deficit of any magnitude, the debt continues to accrue.

        I guess one can get away with that when they are ambiguous.

      2. Dan

        Realist, I hope you’re under 30 so you get to pay back interest on the money our government has borrowed to pay for my confortable life style. Thanks.

      3. Dan

        Click on the below link and tell me if the numbers are going up or down. If they’re going up (8-9-10)…that means our debt is going up. If the numbers are going down (10-9-8..) that means the debt is going down. As always, the babyboomers appreciate your growing debt contributions to their comfortable life style. Your sincere acceptance of your generations financial sacrafice speaks volumes. Maybe we should print even more money. I can use a new 57″ 3D flat screen. My 47″ is small.

        1. Henry

          Dan:“Your (to “realist”) sincere acceptance of your generations financial sacrafice speaks volumes.”

          I bet “realist” has bored ears pierced by an awl.

          1. entech

            And if the servant shall plainly say, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free”: Then his master shall bring him to the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or to the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for ever. [Ex 21:5,6]
            The relevance would be known only to the prehistoric logic of Henry.

            The only other awls that come to mind in regard to Henry are of the old cobblers variety and he does talk a lot of that.

          2. Henry

            r:“What a terrible thing to say.”

            Not at all (no pun intended). It is very common to get one’s ear bored out. Nothing unusual at all. If one has the commitment to be a slave, might as well formalize it.

  4. Brad

    You know what, when you have a national organization that says they hate government and they want to abolish the IRS and they have senatorial candidates who threaten to overthrow the government via “Second Amendment remedies” and their name actually stands for “Taxed Enough Already”, and you have another elected congressional member who tells people to be “armed and dangerous”, it would seem to me that if the IRS DOES NOT target such a group, then they are not doing their job.

    1. Dan


      Your views concern me. I’m reporting your comments and server location to the Department of Homeland Security.

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  5. Michael Ross

    ” senatorial candidates who threaten to overthrow the government via “Second Amendment remedies”

    I don’t support any such candidates and do not advocate any type of violence. Fight lies with the Truth which is embodied in the Prince of Peace of whom Isaiah prophesied: “A bruised reed He will not break, a smoldering wick He will not snuff out, until He establishes righteousness in the earth” (Isaiah 42:3)

  6. Eric Swensen

    Mr. Ross, please don’t quote scripture in a political debate. Separation of church and state was crucial to the founding of this nation. Freedom from religion is synonmous with religious freedom. The purpose of the IRS is not to divide us we do the job well enough without help from the government.

    1. About separation of church and state, Eric, I say “amen” with tongue firmly in cheek. Using scripture to trump ones political adversary has a tendency to stop debate. How can you argue logically with someone who does that?

      1. Henry

        r:“How can you argue logically with someone who does that?”
        Based on a lengthy observation period on this site, many of the atheists leave their so-called logic behind when they get going with their sales pitch.

        1. entech

          Based on long observation of the posts of Henry and going by his own words, if something does not pass the sieve of scripture it is wrong, is this the basis on which we can judge his idea of logic?
          An ancient set of writings with no independent confirmation is thought of as absolute and inerrant truth as the basis of belief is hardly logic.

          The logic of Henry, “if someone doesn’t agree with me they are wrong”.

          1. Henry

            entech:“An ancient set of writings with no independent confirmation is thought of as absolute and inerrant truth as the basis of belief is hardly logic.”

            My faith does not require your logic.

            Atheism on the other hand, hangs their hat on the basis of the logic of man. They celebrate logic, which is fine. However, the same celebrated logic does often convict the atheist when they start spewing their logical fallacies.

          2. entech

            Henry I sometimes think you would like to have Kierkegaard’s idea of faith, true faith is in spite of evidence to the contrary. Not, of course, that such negative evidence will ever be forthcoming. The apologists ability to come up with answers to explain anything precludes that possibility, although the breadth and inclusiveness of such answers means that you actually finish up explaining nothing.

            the basis of the logic of man this is the only logic we have, weak and imperfect as it often is, it is a way forward, a search for truth, a path to understanding, a path with lots of wrong turns, but forward. Your path is backward, both in the sense of a synonym for half-witted and in looking to the past, in your case a very distant past when bronze was barely understood and a wheelbarrow would have been high technology.

          3. entech

            One of the cretinist fallacies is to state that evolution is wrong because it is only a theory, only a theory in the same sense as the theory of gravity? I often wish that they would treat both the same, ignore gravity and just float away taking their nonsense with them.

    2. Henry

      Eric:“The purpose of the IRS is not to divide us”

      Good point. They should just stop right now. Strange that all this would occur under the Obamba regime. I was told the Republicans are the corrupt ones.

    3. Michael Ross

      Sorry, I didn’t know you make rules on Jon’s blog. If I stick to the Constitution will that be OK with you? I happen to believe that the Bible is the “Constitution” that God has written for every nation. Jon disagrees but has never objected to the use of scripture to make a point. He welcomes all points of view. He is, after all, a “Freethinker”.

    4. David

      I don’t think the country was founded on the idea of separation of church and state. Rather that stems from a Thomas Jefferson letter. Clearly the founders wanted freedom of religion – not freedom from religion. In fact they found religion to be so important they placed it in the first amendment to the constitution. They primarily wanted to make sure that the federal government did not establish a religion. They wanted to make sure individuals were free to practice whatever religion they chose. I don’t see anything which suggests that the government must be separate from religion. In fact this left the states free to establish whatever religion they wanted. Most states had similar language in their constitutions but the individual right only went to curtail the federal government. Not until the 14th amendment do we have individual application of the any of the amendments to the states prohibiting their power.

      I think it is a fine thing to quote scripture in a debate. We have no problem quoting all sorts of things in a debate. You may find them unpersuasive. That however, is your prerogative. I find it unpersuasive to suggest that scripture of any sort has no place in debate. Perhaps we will find some good ideas in scripture to support ideas. Even if you are of an unreligious bent scripture might elucidate some idea that is wise. Before you categorize an entire field of debate it would seem to make sense to hear it out first. Maybe some is garbage and others great. Such unnecessary circumspection would seem to be a sign of close mindedness not associated with free thinking – if that is an ideal of which you aspire.

  7. entech

    A world wide phenomena, it is always the fault of the other side.

    One thing that should be consistent though, is that the bigger the deductions claimed the bigger the requirement for verification; bit like the creation story the bigger the claim the bigger the requirement for verification.

    1. “always the fault of the other side”

      Yes, but the side changes with the issue. I believe one of the hallmarks of conservatives is that because they consider themselves to be right all of the time, compromising on solutions is seen as morally reprehensible. I am reminded of the mother who, tired of the bickering about who started or is right about a debate among her children, puts them into a room with the admonition to work it out. The conservative view is to ignore mother and stand firm resulting in gridlock.

      1. entech

        Of course, but how often is it that words are all that change when one side changes from in power to in opposition. Either side can be as stubborn and stupid as the other.

        This leads to a cartoon I saw in the hippy era, group of students talking to the powers that were (say, university administration), It is your intransigent attitude that forces us to make these non-negotiable demands” 🙄

        1. I get where you are in your argument, but sometimes the “both sides are at fault” approach in the United States has resulted in scientists from top tier universities debating with uncredentialed self-proclaimed promoters of unsubstantiated theories all under the guise of “both sides” being heard. Sometimes a side IS wrong and the strength of a society is what happens then. Do we give credence to fools? What’s next, having a serious debate that Hispanics have a naturally lower IQ than the rest of the citizens in the United States–oh, wait. That was on yesterday.

          1. entech

            Presume that you are talking mainly about the ID versus evolution fiasco.
            As Dawkins said about avoiding debating creationists (cretinists in Henry type spelling) it may look good on your CV but not mine.
            They want to be taken seriously but most sensible ‘real’ scientists should to be denying them the unwarranted privilege of a respectable voice. Let them publish in respectable scientific journals, with the ideas presented as the basis for discussion.

            ID is creation science in another disguise, it is not science.

            Not being a resident I am not up to date with other issues, and should not comment on local issues.

  8. David

    I side with the President on this. He apparently believes this was a coordinated attempt to harass conservative groups – not data mining. Fired the top guy don’t you know. If we find this all to be a matter of conservative groups having unwarranted home office deductions – well then the President apparently jumped too soon. This looks and smells bad. We should all be against the government arbitrarily using its power to punish people to whom we disagree.

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