There's a poignant letter transcribed at azcentral.com in which the writer told readers that his house was flooded and all his records were destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in Florida. Without records, the IRS simply imputed his income based on prior years. And with no records the taxpayer was left no way to dispute it. (Link via Instapundit.)
This brings us to a newsletter the IRS sent out in early June -- see it here. Excerpt:
Prepare for Hurricanes, Natural Disasters by Safeguarding Tax Records ...
Create a Backup Set of Records Electronically
Taxpayers should keep a set of backup records in a safe place. The backup should be stored away from the original set.
Keeping a backup set of records –– including, for example, bank statements, tax returns, insurance policies, etc. –– is easier now that many financial institutions provide statements and documents electronically, and much financial information is available on the Internet. Even if the original records are provided only on paper, they can be scanned into an electronic format. With documents in electronic form, taxpayers can save them to the cloud, download them to a backup storage device, like an external hard drive or USB flash drive, or burn them to a CD or DVD.
It almost sounds as if they trying to be helpful. But in reality they are laying out the groundwork for denying any taxpayers' assertions if they don't have backup copies of destroyed documents. The IRS does not give a taxpayer the benefit of the doubt. Then we remember Lois Lerner's lost data and all the other lost data from a period that's so crucial to the IRS scandal investigation. We remember IRS Commissioner John Koskinen's arrogance toward Congress about that loss.
It makes us hope that eventually some court will apply the same standard to the IRS that the IRS applies to taxpayers.