When taking on the IRS, you better be sure. Even if you are, retaliation remains a fear. Not that these people seem to care. According to recent reports, a bipartisan congressional investigation is blaming “management flaws” for the alleged IRS targeting of certain conservative nonprofits during the last presidential election cycle. The trouble began years ago when conservative groups alleged that IRS senior official Lois Lerner targeted conservative groups and either delayed or denied tax-exempt status. While the bipartisan committee agreed that management issues were at the root of the problem, the two sides involved came down on opposites sides of “why” what transpired happened.
Republicans unilaterally blamed Lerner, and, by extension, Obama. According to their version of events, Lerner waited two years to process certain applications. In other words, she waited until after the election to process the applications in order to serve her “boss” Obama.
"This bipartisan investigation shows gross mismanagement at the highest levels of the IRS and confirms an unacceptable truth: the IRS is prone to abuse," Sen. Orrin Hatch said.
Democrats, by contrast, blamed a “dysfunctional culture” that allowed agents to mistreat conservative groups that had applied for tax-exempt status. "Our investigation found from 2010 to 2013, IRS management was delinquent in its responsibility to provide effective control, guidance, and direction over the processing of applications for tax-exempt status filed by the Tea Party and other political advocacy organizations," the report, issued by the Senate Finance Committee, read.
Meanwhile, the IRS claimed the alleged problem was not the IRS’s fault at all. Their representatives argued that nonprofit groups inundated them with applications leading up to the 2012 elections, effectively creating an impossible logjam that IRS officers did their best to slog through … but not nearly in the time frame applicants expected. It was this snowstorm in conjunction with unreasonable expectations from applicants that created the frustration … at least, that’s their story, and they’re sticking to it.
In management situations, you will often encounter similar scenarios. There’s a problem, it could be simple or widespread, and two groups looking at the problem offer different solutions and blame different causes. As a manager, you will be tasked with taking the information given, stripping away the bias and making a decision. It can be a tough call, but that’s why you get paid the big bucks, right?
Jonah Engler is a financial expert from NYC.