Last week, the IRS notified the United States Ways & Means Committee that a computer crash had wiped out all e-mails from January 2009 through April 2011 between former IRS official Ms. Lois Lerner and outside agencies or groups, including the White House, the Department of the Treasury, the US Department of Justice, the Federal Elections Commission, and several Congressional Democrats. Before retiring last year, Ms. Lerner was in charge of the department that engaged in the targeting of conservative organizations.
According to my Congressman and Ways & Means Committee member James Gerlach, on June 16th, the IRS also stated that it “cannot find e-mails sent to and from six other government officials involved in the targeting.” In addition, Ways and Means investigators have confirmed that the IRS first knew of the destroyed emails as early as February 2014 – nearly three months prior to current IRS Commissioner Mr. Koskinen telling the Committee the IRS would produce all of Lois Lerner’s emails.
As a thought experiment, my co-workers and I tried to imagine what would happen if the IRS came to our company for an audit of our records, and we replied that we would like to accommodate their request, but that the files are electronic and a computer error deleted them all. It takes no imagination to evaluate the IRS response. I suspect that whatever response the IRS provided to that proclamation, it would not include “Ok, never mind.”
Small businesses in the US (like Environmental Standards, Inc.) are subject to an ever-expanding obligation to keep business records, tax records, environmental records, human resource records, prepare reports for various government purposes and there is no sign of things slowing down. I can only imagine what our clients are dealing with these days – the same issues only bigger, more complicated and just as, if not more, expensive. If you need help with environmental data (most companies have more environmental records than tax records, believe it or not) give me a call. We can help.
About the Author
Gerald L. Kirkpatrick, P.G. is a Principal Geoscientist and the Managing Partner of Environmental Standards, Inc. Mr. Kirkpatrick has more than 30 years of applied environmental geoscience experience in both private industry and environmental consulting. Outside of work, Gerry enjoys fishing and an occasional single malt. A very poor chess player, he remains dedicated to the game, nonetheless.