The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been making headlines fairly regularly over the past year, most of them unflattering. From its pursuit of conservative political groups, to missing emails about the agency’s actions and a massive data breach that exposed the information of more than 330,000 taxpayers, the IRS has been struggling to bolster its public image.

Yet recent actions at the IRS suggest that more than a public relations campaign is required to rejuvenate the agency. More specifically, it has been revealed that the IRS is targeting American businesses—big and small—with strong-arm tactics that not only raise questions of legality, but also hamper economic activity.

The IRS’ discretionary enforcement of law with respect to political groups is well-known and forced Lois Lerner to step down. While Lerner was running the division within the IRS that determines tax-exempt status, Tea Party groups struggled to have their status approved and were often subjected to intense examination and questioning.

Lerner retired one step ahead of a review board’s report that would recommend she be fired for “neglect of duties.” Her behavior is an indication of the antagonistic relationship between the IRS and taxpayers. Rather than respected, taxpayers are viewed with suspicion, and the agency is not shy about applying strong-arm tactics.

Civil asset forefeiture has left some small businesses decimated without ever being accused of wrongdoing

For example, the IRS is waging a war on American businesses that makes it more difficult to be successful in a global economy, while throwing conventional views of right and wrong out the window. One tactic in particular—civil asset forefeiture—has left some small businesses decimated without ever being accused of wrongdoing.

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