IRS Credibility Gap Widens: Agency Admits to Deleting Hard Drives

Michi Iljazi

January 25, 2016

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been no stranger to controversy over the last few years. Political targeting, hollow complaints about budget cuts, and continued stonewalling into investigations of impropriety and misconduct have been nothing short of damaging to the credibility of the agency. Now, another major story is brewing as news unfolded about information related to an ongoing court case.  And yes, the impropriety involves missing e-mails.   And, this new revelation about the IRS impacts an ongoing investigation that the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) is conducting.

According to The Daily Caller, “Samuel Maruca, owner of the hard drive in question and a former senior IRS executive, participated in the IRS hiring of the outside law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP allegedly to investigate Microsoft. Maruca left the IRS in August 2014, according to court documents.”

The name of the IRS officials may not seem important but it is. Mr. Maruca was in charge of a key hire at the IRS, the prominent trial lawyer law firm Quinn Emanuel. The firm was hired to handle an audit the agency was conducting. The IRS then used taxpayer money to pay the $1000 per hour billing that Quinn Emanuel charged the agency.

This disappearance comes at a time when TPA is searching for answers about the case.  TPA submitted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to the IRS late last year regarding information on the circumstances under which the audit of a private company by a government agency was outsourced to an outside firm. TPA filed several requests to the agency asking for specific information related to the audit. So far, the IRS has yet to respond with anything other than a notice that there will be a delay in fulfilling the FOIA requests. Skepticism is certainly warranted in light of their recent track record.

This loss of e-mail is particularly disturbing considering the IRS defied an order from the court to keep records related to an ongoing matter that is still being adjudicated. Second, there is a question of legality surrounding the outsourcing of an audit that the agency was conducting on a private company to an outside firm. There are a number of issues that the IRS still has yet to come clean about regarding the entire episode and now because of this latest screw-up, the answers may never be uncovered.

This isn’t the first time the IRS has deleted key pieces of potential evidence in cases where the agency is dealing with possible wrongdoing. Just last June, as the investigation into political targeting by the agency’s non-profit division, it was discovered that key emails were lost despite telling Congressional investigators that all emails had been delivered.

Lawmakers are taking notice of the troubling record of the IRS when it comes to the handling of agency duties and taxpayer information.  What is even worse is that this is one of the most powerful agencies in government and they can change the lives of individuals and businesses with a single letter or phone call.

TPA continues to call on the IRS to get rid of their current leadership, use their funding to carry out the job their supposed to be doing, release all communications regarding the Lerner investigation, and all documentation relating to this case.