The IRS, not known for engaging in house calls, paid a visit to the home of Twitter Files journalist Matt Taibbi while he was giving testimony to Congress about the government’s efforts to control online discourse.
The IRS agent showed up at Taibbi’s house on March 9, the day of the journalist’s high-profile testimony before the House Committee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government. Finding Taibbi not at home, the agent affixed a letter to the journalist’s door instructing him to call him.
The IRS claims that a 2018 return by Taibbi was rejected and needs to be re-filed, despite the fact that Taibbi received an electronic confirmation of the return. Another return, in 2021, has been rejected by the IRS twice — despite Taibbi’s accountants using the IRS-provided pin number to file the return.
The journalist has no issue with late payments or penalties. In fact, as seen in documentation provided by Taibbi, the IRS owes him a refund.
The question is, did a rejected return warrant an IRS house call?
The Wall Street Journal notes how rare these are:
The bigger question is when did the IRS start to dispatch agents for surprise house calls? Typically when the IRS challenges some part of a tax return, it sends a dunning letter. Or it might seek more information from the taxpayer or tax preparer. If the IRS wants to audit a return, it schedules a meeting at the agent’s office. It doesn’t drop by unannounced.
The curious timing of this visit, on the heels of the FTC demand that Twitter turn over names of journalists, raises questions about potential intimidation, and Mr. Jordan is right to want to see documents and communications relating to the Taibbi visit.
The actions by the IRS led to a letter from Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, telling the Treasury Department to preserve documentation related to the visit.
— Weaponization Committee (@Weaponization) March 28, 2023
The incident, said Rep. Jordan, warranted a “careful examination by the Committee to determine whether the visit was a thinly-veiled attempt to influence or intimidate a witness before Congress.”
The IRS has been weaponized against Democrats’ political opponents before. Internal documents released in 2013 showed that the IRS applied intensive scrutiny to conservative groups, particularly those connected to the “Tea Party” movement, that were applying for tax-exempt status. In 2017, the Department of Justice settled several cases brought by Tea Party groups, admitting the government’s wrongdoing.