Investigative Journalist Accuses IRS of Targeting Protesters

( – Americans have a verifiable dislike for the oft-dreaded IRS. A 2023 Pew Research survey showed that 51% of participants had an unfavorable opinion of the federal agency versus only 42% who looked at the tax agency favorably. Putting that figure in context, 38% of the individuals polled said they looked unfavorably at the CDC, and 36% said the same about the FBI. Inversely, 56% looked favorably on the CDC and 52% on the FBI.

A seasoned investigative journalist recently accused the IRS of implementing changes that could allow its investigators to target groups threatening government functions.

Journalist Accuses IRS of Targeting Individuals Protesting Government Activity

On May 9, Ken Klippenstein published a report on his Substack newsletter warning that the IRS recently implemented changes paving the way for agents with its Criminal Investigation Division to investigate some groups threatening the federal government’s ability to operate.

Klippenstein pointed out two significant changes to Part 9 of the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM), which were implemented on November 6, 2023. That section covers the goals and responsibilities of the agency’s criminal investigations.

First Change to Internal Revenue Manual

The first change appears in section, which details the IRS’ “investigation selection criteria.” The agency made three additions to subsection (1), adding sub-subsections (e), (f), and (g).

All three new sub-subsections prioritize investigations involving activities “tied or linked” to the leadership elements of a transnational criminal organization (TCO), “provided the [group] is subject to US legal jurisdiction” and its alleged actions “significantly impacts” the US or presents a “significant existing or emerging threat” to American national security interests or public safety.

Sub-subsection (g) lists TCO activities of particular interest in justifying the launch of an investigation. They included conduct or actions taken that “threaten to destabilize [America’s] critical infrastructure, key resources, or the ability to govern” [emphasis added].

Klippenstein zeroed in on the additions of targets impacting the “ability to govern.” He warned that the IRS could use this vague term to investigate a wide array of activities and individuals.

Second Change

Similarly, the second change involved section, which deals with the duties and responsibilities of the IRS’ national security and Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces (OCDETF) coordinators, who work with other government agencies like the Justice Department.

Subsection (1)(e) previously discussed IRS participation in the federal government’s “national security” investigations. It referred to task forces investigating “narcotics and terrorism.” However, it replaced that phrase with “OCDETF and NS programs.”

Klippenstein took issue with the wording of the update — specifically, the use of “national security.” Once again, he explained that the term is overly broad and could be used to involve IRS investigators in a wide range of activities, from “maintaining the safety of the stock market to protecting critical infrastructure.”

The investigative journalist also warned readers that the change could allow the IRS to cast a “wide net that could [snare] anyone from Americans protesting [the] government’s ‘foreign relations’ to day traders.”

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