IRS Commissioner John Koskinen admitted Wednesday that his agency has a little more flexibility when it comes to following the law than most taxpayers, who have been known to be raked over the coals for failing to adhere to every law and rule, no matter how intricate.
Koskinen testified at a House Ways & Means subcommittee Wednesday, when he was asked by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) whether the IRS would follow the law and require people to pay back any subsidy under Obamacare for which they are not eligible.
"Will you be following the law in that instance, an ineligible subsidy?" Brady asked.
Koskinen first replied by saying those taxpayers would be "treated as anybody else would be in our compliance process."
But Brady asked for more clarification, and got Koskinen to say, "Wherever we can, we follow the law."
That prompted a surprised Brady to laugh and lose his train of thought. "I encourage you to follow the law in all instances," he said to snickers in the room.
While the comment seemed to be a slip at the time, the committee followed up later in the day with a release noting that the IRS has a "long history of not following the law."
"The IRS didn't follow the law when they targeted conservative groups for their beliefs," it said, a reference to the IRS targeting scandal.
"The IRS didn't follow the law when they demanded information about the content of prayers," it added. "The IRS didn't follow the law when they handed out subsidies to states in the federal health care exchange. The IRS didn't follow the law when they leaked confidential taxpayer information."
Koskinen's comment also drew a rebuke from House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who tweeted in reply, "This is the standard?"