The Washington Times is reporting that congressional Republicans want the Justice Department to reopen the investigation of Lois Lerner, the IRS official who was suspected of unlawfully targeting conservative and tea party groups who were applying for nonprofit status. The Obama Justice Department has already conducted an investigation and cleared Lerner of wrongdoing. However, the victims of the IRS harassment have claimed that conclusion constituted a white wash.

During the run up to the 2012 elections, the tax agency threw numerous roadblocks in the way of conservative and Tea Party groups seeking nonprofit status which has certain tax advantages.

The groups were asked numerous, intrusive questions that seemed to be designed to delay or even prevent their achieving nonprofit status. Lerner is thought to have been at the center of the effort, though it is unclear how far up the government the effort went. Some analysts have suggested that the harassment affected the outcome of the 2012 election by keeping the tea party mired in paperwork and not pursuing political activism. The operation would seem to constitute a violation of Civil Rights based on political belief. Lerner, in particular, seems to harbor an intense dislike for conservatives. Liberal groups were not subjected to the same treatment.

The IRS is still in legal jeopardy with a number of lawsuits making their way through the federal court system.

The tax agency, never the most popular in the government, has come under increasing fire for poor customer service and for a tax code that has become so complicated and difficult to comply with that taxpayers have become fed up. The situation is the main impetus for tax reform, which goes beyond just cutting taxes to making the tax code simpler and easier to comply with.

If the scandal goes all the way up to the office of the president it will not be the first time that a chief executive has used the IRS to strike at his political enemies. Political opponents of a particular president, no matter of which party, seem to find their tax returns audited with more frequency than might otherwise be the case.

Tax simplification appears to be the one way to fix the reoccurring problem. If paying for government services was less complicated and more straightforward then the IRS would be less likely to become a political weapon. Some have even suggested that the income tax be scrapped altogether and replaced with a national sales tax, the virtue of which is that collections are automatic and does not require time-consuming and often expensive preparation.