Questions for the IRS

Editorial


Published March 06, 2014, issue of March 14, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share

The Internal Revenue Service is an easy target for anger and disdain, especially now, as the deadline to file income taxes approaches and the IRS hasn’t quite recovered from the public battering it is receiving over questionable audits of politicized organizations. We don’t mean to pile on. But the startling story reported by our Nathan Guttman raises too many questions for us to stay silent.

Tax accountants working in Israel told Guttman that any American expat living there who files for a child tax credit in an annual return can expect to be audited. “I’ve seen more audits in the past year or two than I’ve seen in the previous 30 years combined,” one accountant said.

This is partly a result of extra scrutiny aimed at all Americans living overseas or with bank accounts in foreign countries, and since there’s about 250,000 Americans residing in Israel, it’s fertile ground for this type of IRS campaign. Fair enough. But the IRS’s Israeli focus is especially intense because of fraudulent activity by a few Americans that now seems to have drawn everyone there into the same net.

Not fair enough. In fact, this behavior echoes the complaints African-Americans had with New York City’s aggressive stop-and-frisk policing tactic — of tarring an entire community because of the misdeeds of a few of its members.

Why assume that all Americans in Israel are behaving badly? Even for those with nothing to hide, an audit is an onerous, expensive process, all the more so when receipts and documents are in a language other than English (and the IRS expects the audited to pay for a professional translator).

The IRS owes those taxpayers an explanation, and so far none has been forthcoming. If some Americans living in Jerusalem or B’nei Brak are abusing the tax system for personal gain — and Guttman cited evidence of this fraud — then they should be stopped and punished.

But to punish a broader class of people is insulting and discriminatory, a violation of the democratic values that both our nations profess to uphold. Answers, please.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.