Did Obama Administration Illegally Review “Opponent’s” Tax Return?
posted at 1:43 pm on October 9, 2010 by Howard Portnoy
President Barack Obama’s habit of “naming names” of perceived opponents such as FOX News may be ugly, tasteless, and morally questionable, but his right to do so is guaranteed by the Constitution. However, his administration may have crossed the line by examining the tax records of a private corporation that funds conservative candidates and causes.
Recent remarks by a member of the administration concerning Koch Industries, a Kansas-based company, suggest the White House knows more about the corporation’s tax status than federal law permits. The remarks follow:
In this country, we have partnerships, we have [S corporations], we have [limited-liability companies], we have a series of entities that do not pay corporate income tax. Some of which are really giant firms—you know, Koch Industries is a multibillion-dollar business.
The Weekly Standard has asserted that the author of these comments is Austan Goolsbee, recently named chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers. Goolsbee has denied examining the confidential tax records of the company, an action that would violate Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code. The law states:
[N]o officer or employee of the United States … shall disclose any return or return information obtained by him in any manner in connection with his service as such an officer or an employee or otherwise or under the provisions of this section….
The Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax issues is now investigating whether administration officials had illegal access to taxpayer information or were inappropriately speculating in public about the company’s tax liability.
It is worth noting that the president has himself targeted Koch Industries in speeches. It is really high time for Obama to remember that he is president of all Americans and to stop singling out those individuals and organizations who disagree with his policies.