April 11th, 2014
Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers are getting letters informing them that a debt incurred by their parents has resulted in confiscation...
A few weeks ago, with no notice, the U.S. government intercepted Mary Grice’s tax refunds from both the IRS and the state of Maryland. Grice had no idea that Uncle Sam had seized her money until some days later, when she got a letter saying that her refund had gone to satisfy an old debt to the government — a very old debt.
When Grice was 4, back in 1960, her father died, leaving her mother with five children to raise. Until the kids turned 18, Sadie Grice got survivor benefits from Social Security to help feed and clothe them.Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family — it’s not sure who — in 1977. After 37 years of silence, four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. Why the feds chose to take Mary’s money, rather than her surviving siblings’, is a mystery.
Across the nation, hundreds of thousands of taxpayers who are expecting refunds this month are instead getting letters like the one Grice got, informing them that because of a debt they never knew about — often a debt incurred by their parents — the government has confiscated their check.
The Treasury Department has intercepted $1.9 billion in tax refunds already this year — $75 million of that on debts delinquent for more than 10 years, said Jeffrey Schramek, assistant commissioner of the department’s debt management service. The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam.
No one seems eager to take credit for reopening all these long-closed cases. A Social Security spokeswoman says the agency didn’t seek the change; ask Treasury. Treasury says it wasn’t us; try Congress. Congressional staffers say the request probably came from the bureaucracy.
The only explanation the government provides for suddenly going after decades-old debts comes from Social Security spokeswoman Dorothy Clark: “We have an obligation to current and future Social Security beneficiaries to attempt to recoup money that people received when it was not due.”
Since the drive to collect on very old debts began in 2011, the Treasury Department has collected $424 million in debts that were more than 10 years old. Those debts were owed to many federal agencies, but the one that has many Americans howling this tax season is the Social Security Administration, which has found 400,000 taxpayers who collectively owe $714 million on debts more than 10 years old. The agency expects to have begun proceedings against all of those people by this summer.
“It was a shock,” said Grice, 58. “What incenses me is the way they went about this. They gave me no notice, they can’t prove that I received any overpayment, and they use intimidation tactics, threatening to report this to the credit bureaus.”
Grice filed suit against the Social Security Administration in federal court in Greenbelt this week, alleging that the government violated her right to due process by holding her responsible for a $2,996 debt supposedly incurred under her father’s Social Security number.
Social Security officials told Grice that six people — Grice, her four siblings and her father’s first wife, whom she never knew — had received benefits under her father’s account. The government doesn’t look into exactly who got the overpayment; the policy is to seek compensation from the oldest sibling and work down through the family until the debt is paid.
The Federal Trade Commission, on its Web site, advises Americans that “family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets.” But Social Security officials say that if children indirectly received assistance from public dollars paid to a parent, the children’s money can be taken, no matter how long ago any overpayment occurred.
“While we are responsible for collecting delinquent debts owed to taxpayers, we understand the importance of ensuring that debtors are treated fairly,” Treasury’s Schramek said in a statement responding to questions from The Washington Post. He said Treasury requires that debtors be given due process....
April 10th, 2014
By Katie Pavlich
New IRS emails released by the House Oversight Committee show staff working for Democratic Ranking Member Elijah Cummings communicated with the IRS multiple times between 2012 and 2013 about voter fraud prevention group True the Vote.
True the Vote was targeted by the IRS after applying for tax exempt status more than two years ago. Further, information shows the IRS and Cummings' staff asked for nearly identical information from True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht about her organization, indicating coordination and improper sharing of confidential taxpayer information.
Chairman of the House Oversight Committee Darrell Issa, along with five Subcommittee Chairmen are demanding Cummings provide an explanation for the staff inquiries to the IRS about True the Vote and for his denial that his staff ever contacted the IRS about the group.
“Although you have previously denied that your staff made inquiries to the IRS about conservative organization True the Vote that may have led to additional agency scrutiny, communication records between your staff and IRS officials – which you did not disclose to Majority Members or staff – indicates otherwise,” the letter to Cummings states. “As the Committee is scheduled to consider a resolution holding Ms. Lerner, a participant in responding to your communications that you failed to disclose, in contempt of Congress, you have an obligation to fully explain your staff’s undisclosed contacts with the IRS.”
The first contact between the IRS and Cummings' staffers about True the Vote happened in August 2012. In January 2013, staff asked for more information from the IRS about the group. Former head of tax exempt groups at the IRS Lois Lerner went out of her way to try and get information to Cummings' office.The information Cummings received was not shared with Majority Members on the Committee.
On January 28, three days after staffers requested more information, Lerner wrote an email to her deputy Holly Paz, who has since been put on administrative leave, asking, “Did we find anything?” Paz responded immediately by saying information had not been found yet, to which Lerner replied, “Thanks, check tomorrow please.”
On January 31, Paz sent True the Vote's 990 forms to Cumming's staff.
Up until this point, Rep. Cummings has denied his staff ever contacted the IRS about True the Vote and their activities during Oversight hearings. In fact, on February 6, 2014 during a Subcommittee hearing where Engelbrecht testified, Cummings vehemently denied having any contact or coordination in targeting True the Vote when attorney Cleta Mitchell, who is representing the group, indicated staff on the Committee had been involved in communication with the IRS. This was the exchange:
Ms. Mitchell: We want to get to the bottom of how these coincidences happened, and we’re going to try to figure out whether any – if there was any staff of this committee that might have been involved in putting True the Vote on the radar screen of some of these Federal agencies. We don’t know that, but we – we’re going to do everything we can do to try to get to the bottom of how did this all happen.
Mr. Cummings. Will the gentleman yield?
Mr. Meadows. Yes.
Mr. Cummings. I want to thank the gentleman for his courtesy. What she just said is absolutely incorrect and not true.
After the hearing, Engelbrecht filed an ethics complaint against Cummings for his targeting and intimidation of her organization.
Rep. Cummings has described the investigation into IRS targeting of conservative groups as a "witch hunt," and has tried multiple times to put the investigation on hold....
April 10th, 2014
The "Great Apostacy" Files....
A French fundamentalist priest raped and tortured three teachers at a private religious school he ran during so-called exorcisms, leaving one the victims so disturbed she couldn’t describe events to investigators.
Police say the priest raped three women in the autumn of 2010 after he met them at the private religious school Ecole Notre-Dame-de-la Sablonniere in Goussonville, west of Paris, which he was running at the time, according to French media reports.
For years the women did not come forward to the police and one of them was so traumatized that she couldn’t even describe what had happened to her. The 40-year old priest was charged on Wednesday on charges of cruelty, torture and rape. He is now being held without bail
The cleric had allegedly raped one teacher to purge her of the “evil” of a previous sexual assault and used his “spiritual influence” to convince two other female teachers to experience similar exorcisms.
While being interrogated earlier this week the priest allegedly told detectives that he had only “simulated” the sexual acts, which the victims claimed were acts of torture using a broom, a toothbrush and some scissors.
An unnamed police source told the French news site Toute Les Nouvelles that the priest suffered from mental problems.
“He’s obsessed with sex. In his own way he was fighting fire with fire,” the source said.
The priest has already been tried several years ago in a religious hearing by his sect of St. Pius X, which sentenced him to two years in a monastery.
The Society of St Pius X is a congregation of traditionalist catholic priests founded in 1970 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre and refuses the authority of the Vatican. It has over 600,000 followers in 62 countries.
April 10th, 2014
Originally posted in 2012, this video deserves another round...especially given all that has transpired SINCE it was first posted...
April 10th, 2014
On July 15, 2012, in Alexandria, Egypt, during an official visit to Egypt, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's motorcade was pelted with shoes and tomatoes by protesters chanting "Monica, Monica"; a reference to the Monica Lewinsky scandal involving her husband, former President Bill Clinton
By KEN RITTER
A woman was taken into custody after throwing what she described as a shoe at Hillary Clinton during a Las Vegas speech.
The incident happened moments after Clinton took the stage Thursday at an Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries meeting at the Mandalay Bay hotel-casino.
Clinton ducked but did not appear to be hit by the object, and then joked about it.
"Is that somebody throwing something at me? Is that part of Cirque de Soleil?" Clinton quipped.
She added: "My goodness, I didn't know that solid waste management was so controversial. Thank goodness she didn't play softball like I did."
Ilene Rosen, a witness and the wife of a conventioneer, was seated in the second row when she saw "something orange thrown from the side aisle with papers that fluttered in the air."
Rosen said the woman walked down the aisle and got about six rows from the front of the seating area when she threw the object. The woman then turned around, put her hands in the air and walked toward the back of the room before ushers caught up with her, Rosen said.
Security officers ushered out the woman, who said she threw a shoe but didn't identify herself to reporters or explain the action. Mark Carpenter, spokesman for the recycling institute, said she wasn't part of the convention.
Authorities said she would be arrested.
Rosen said the object that went past Clinton lodged in a decoration at the back of the stage for a moment, but a security officer quickly grabbed it and took it off stage.
After her speech, Clinton answered questions posed by Jerry Simms, the outgoing chairman of the organization. Simms first offered what he called a "deepest apology for that crude interruption."
Clinton answered questions broadly, saying she felt politics today leads people to "do what they think will be rewarded."
An attendee later handed a reporter a piece of paper that was apparently thrown by the woman. It appeared to be a copy of a Department of Defense document labeled confidential and dated August 1967; it referred to an operation "Cynthia" in Bolivia.
The former U.S. secretary of state and Democratic senator from New York has been traveling the country giving paid speeches to industry organizations and appearing before key Democratic Party constituents.