Tag Archives: income taxes

Now THIS Is An Unethical IRS Employee…Howard Stern Too, But We Knew HE Was Unethical

[There is supposed to be a photo of Howard Stern here, but WordPress keeps refusing to embed it, thus showing the software’s admirable good taste.]

In May of 2015, Judith Barrigas of Sandwich, Massachusetts called the IRS service center  with a question about her tax refund. She reached IRS agent Jimmy Forsythe, who was goofing off on the job, on hold after a call to Howard Stern’s radio show on satellite radio. Forsythe, still on hold (or so he thought) took the taxpayer’s call, and when the Stern show took reconnected, Stern’s listeners somehow heard Forsythe’s conversation with Barrigas.  Stern and paid sycophant Robin Quivers then joked about the call, which concerned Barrigas’s payment plan: the IRS had applied Barrigas’s tax refund to pay her outstanding debts from 2011 and 2012, even though she complained she already had a repayment plan set up with the  IRS. Her call, which she assumed was private, should have assumed was private and was guranteed by federal law to BE private, was on the airwaves for nearly an hour.

“I’m learning so much,” said Stern at the time, before he finally cut off the surreptitious eavesdropping. “I feel like I’m in math class and I’m flunking because I don’t know one thing he’s saying. I think I’m going to bail on this guy. By the way, this is the most boring job ever. I’d rather live in my parent’s basement if I had to do that. I’d give out all the wrong information. All right, dude, later!”

Barrigas  has just sued  the IRS, the Howard Stern Production Company, and Stern individually for violations of the Federal Tort Claims Act,  unlawful disclosure of tax returns and personal information, and just the for the Stern side,  negligence, invasion of privacy, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Ethics Observations: Continue reading


Filed under Character, Citizenship, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Dunces, Etiquette and manners, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement, Popular Culture, Workplace

The Internal Revenue Service’s Unethical Compassion

News Item (ABA Journal):

Too bad---if only your family tragedy had gotten more publicity, the IRS might have given a damn.

Too bad—if only your family tragedy had gotten more publicity, the IRS might have given a damn.

“After Monday’s fatal bombing near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, the Internal Revenue Service has announce that the April 15 income tax filing deadline will be extended by three months for those affected by the crime…”

Oh! Does this mean that the Internal Revenue Service has a new policy that grants penalty-free extensions to taxpayers who experienced a personal tragedy on or about April 15? Well, no, it doesn’t. Does it mean that all the other victims of crimes and tragedies across the nation will get similar compassionate treatment? No, it doesn’t mean this either. What it means is that someone—I wonder who?—is using a Federal Agency to make political hay and get positive publicity from journalists who are incapable of thought.

This is an ethics foul, a significant one, and I would think an obvious one as well. The government’s tax-collecting agency must display absolute integrity and consistency at all times, and must not be influenced or driven by politics or public relations. There are citizens across our land who had family members raped on April 15, or who were raped themselves; who had children or parents die, who were in horrible accidents, whose home or business burned down, who lost their jobs, or who were diagnosed with dread diseases that will change their lives forever. Why are the Boston victims receiving compassionate treatment,while  these citizens are not? You know why: because this was a high-profile tragedy, to which I say, so what? What is the ethical principle being articulated here that is worth sacrificing the IRS’s integrity? That high-profile victims deserve more compassion than other victims? No, the principle is that a government gets better PR brownie points by making beneficent gestures to well-publicized victims who are on TV than it does, say, to a tax-paying father whose kid was gunned down in a drive-by on tax day.

Well, it’s a cynical, sloppy, incoherent, irresponsible ad hoc principle that operates on a double standard, and is inherently unfair and unjust. It also necessarily raises the questions, how else does the IRS play favorites? What other political activities does the IRS perform for its masters?

That’s how trust in the government erodes, and the IRS is asking for it.


Pointer and Facts: ABA Journal



Filed under Citizenship, Government & Politics, Literature

“Give Back” Ethics

Excellent! But is he giving, or "giving back"?

John Stossel, the ABC house conservative who yielded to the inevitable and finally migrated to Fox News, takes issue with what he sees as corporate America’s capitulating to the distorting rhetoric of capitalism-bashing. On his website, Stossel cites with approval this letter, sent by George Mason University  Economics Professor Don Boudreaux to the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain:

“Dear Ritz-Carlton:

“Thanks for your e-mail celebrating your and your employees’ participation in “Give Back Getaways” – activities in which you and your employees (along with some of your customers) “give back to the community.”

“Have you taken something that doesn’t belong to you?  If so, by all means give it back!…If, though, you’ve not taken anything that doesn’t belong to you, you possess nothing that you can give BACK. Continue reading


Filed under Business & Commercial, Citizenship, Finance, Government & Politics, History, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Professions, U.S. Society