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Michele Bachman: IRS Tax Collector


By John Martin - Posted on 11 July 2011

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303812104576437830202611222.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

This won't be a big deal, and probably won't turn off her base. After all, God told her to become a tax collector.

Here's more of the story:

 

WHITE EARTH, Minn.—Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann touts one job as her primary professional experience before entering politics. On the campaign trail, she describes it as being a "federal tax litigation attorney." Others might call it tax collector.
 
Ms. Bachmann spent four years with the Internal Revenue Service district counsel office in St. Paul, Minn., from 1988 to 1992, and "worked on hundreds of civil and criminal cases," according to her congressional website.
 
This part of her resume cuts two ways for Ms. Bachman, who ranks near the top of the GOP field in polls of New Hampshire and Iowa, where she campaigned over the weekend. She's a favorite of the tea party, for whom the IRS personifies government overreach.
 
Ms. Bachmann, on the other hand, in her limited comments on the matter, says the experience formed her views on taxes.
 
According to her congressional website, it helped her understand first-hand the need to simplify the current tax code. Earlier this year, Ms. Bachmann voted for a measure that would strip $600 million from the IRS by October, including $285 million from its tax-enforcement budget.
 
Ms. Bachmann's congressional office and campaign staff did not respond to requests to talk about her time at the IRS, and former colleagues in the St. Paul office declined interview requests.
 
Ms. Bachmann has said she had no particular interest in tax law but moved into the field at the direction of her husband, Marcus.
 
" 'Tax law? I hate taxes. Why should I go do something like that?' " Ms. Bachmann said in 2006 remarks at the Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, Minn., recounting a conversation she had with her husband. "But, by faith, I was going to be faithful to what God was calling me to do through my husband, and I finished that course of study."
 
In stump speeches and interviews, Ms. Bachmann said her tax work helped lead her to the conclusion that the U.S. should "deep-six" the tax code and scrap taxes on inheritance and capital gains, stances that have made her a tea-party favorite.
 
She earned a law degree at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Okla., in 1986 and then a master's degree in tax law at the College of William & Mary School of Law. She joined the IRS in St. Paul in 1988 and left four years later to focus on raising her children.
 
According to numerous tax lawyers, both in an out of government, IRS lawyers in Ms. Bachmann's former job typically represent the government against delinquent taxpayers. The majority of these cases result in settlements, and few actually wind up in court.
 
In the early 1990s, the federal government assigned Ms. Bachmann to collect from Marvin Manypenny, an American Indian who refused to pay his taxes as part of a long-running dispute over Indian lands in Minnesota.
 
Facing her in a government building in St. Paul, Mr. Manypenny asserted that an 1867 federal treaty with the Chippewa Indians shielded part of his income from taxation. Ms. Bachmann rejected his argument, he recalled.
 
"She was trying to say, 'This is the way it is. You have to conform to the laws,' " Mr. Manypenny said.
 
Because the case went to an appeals court, the judgment against Mr. Manypenny is one of the only publicly available documents from her time with the IRS. A clerk for U.S. Tax Court in Washington, D.C., was unable to locate other records from Ms. Bachmann's service with the IRS.
 
Mr. Manypenny, 64 years old, had been fighting a 1986 federal settlement of lawsuits brought by members of the Mississippi band of the Chippewa, who reside on the White Earth Reservation, located on a rolling prairie in northwestern Minnesota.
 
Mr. Manypenny, who was born on the reservation, was paid by a group to organize opposition to the deal on behalf of tribe members who didn't want to abandon their claims, drawing a modest salary.
 
Eventually, the government sought about $6,000 in unpaid taxes and $1,495 in penalties, according to an appeals court filing.
 
Mr. Manypenny refused to pay, arguing the government had no right to tax him under the terms of a treaty the Chippewa signed with the federal government more than century earlier and because the Constitution does not recognize Native Americans as full citizens.
 
"He had a sincere belief that his income wasn't eligible" to be taxed, said Mary Streitz, a Minneapolis tax attorney who represented Mr. Manypenny.
 
Mr. Manypenny lost two court appeals but his tax bill was eventually reduced after Minneapolis lawyers helped him claim some deductions. He said he paid the government $50 when he had the money but still hasn't met his obligations to the Treasury.

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