Tea party activist and former Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell will probably never find out how her tax records were illegally accessed because federal law shields the public disclosure
of any such information, The Washington Times reports.
O’Donnell challenged fellow Republican, and former Delaware Gov. Mike Castle, in 2010 for a U.S. Senate seat ultimately won by Democrat Chris Coons. O’Donnell beat Castle in the GOP primary.
While considering entering the Senate race, O’Donnell said she received an ominous warning from an unidentified prominent Delaware political figure that should she challenge Castle, “the IRS and others would ‘F’ with her head,” according to the Times.
At the time she announced her candidacy in March 2010, the IRS placed an $11,744 tax lien
on a Wilmington, Del. home O’Donnell once owned, according to USA Today.
Ultimately, the IRS acknowledged its mistake – blaming a “computer glitch” – and withdrew the complaint, but the media coverage helped bolster the narrative crafted by O’Donnell’s opponents that she was fiscally irresponsible. O’Donnell sold the home in 2008, years before the IRS initiated the erroneous lien, according to the Times.
She also was the subject of a three-year audit of her 2005 tax return and ultimately had to pay the IRS $1,100.
Now the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee are looking into the incidents, but legal analysts say IRS tax code prohibits the disclosure of the outcome.
“Even Ms. O’Donnell herself will not be briefed on what either congressional committee discovers, as the federal government asserts that tax law goes so far as to shield its own employees from being exposed publicly if they are engaged in willful targeting or other wrongdoing,” the Times reports, adding that the only two people legally privy to the information are the chairmen of the investigating committees, Republican Dave Camp in the House and Democrat Max Baucus in the Senate.
“The IRS takes a position that they don’t have to tell you the wrongdoing by their own agency and employees because of the protections that are supposed to be afforded to the taxpayer are then reversed and afforded to the IRS employee,” Washington lawyer Cleta Mitchell told the Times. “This is a big problem. This agency is a big problem.”
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