Abolish the IRS

As Congressman Dave Camp has observed, the tax code of the United States is now ten times as long as the Bible, with none of the good news.

It is also exponentially more difficult to comply with, as there have been some 5,000 revisions made in the last dozen years. Even ancient scriptures, while challenging to willing spirits and weak flesh, can be counted on for constancy.

It is axiomatic that in a free society, a law that renders comprehension and compliance impossible cannot be considered legitimate. No matter how eager citizens may be to contribute to the common purse, rendering unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, they can attain no certainty they have done so to Caesar’s satisfaction — and his dissatisfaction carries a severe cost.

Recent news that the Internal Revenue Service has been enforcing its already inscrutable doctrine with caprice and venom — directed at conservative groups, Republican donors, and supporters of Israel, among others — confirms the worst suspicions of many Americans, of all political affiliations.

There is a lot of talk in Washington, and across the country, of a desire to reach bipartisan accord and accomplish great things. Here is an opportunity for just that.

Over the course of several election cycles, what was once a fringe notion advanced by long-shot candidates (Mike Huckabee and Ron Paul, please call your offices — or call each other, or call me, as you wish) has crept closer to the mainstream. To wit, it is time to abolish the IRS.

The very title “Internal Revenue Service” contains multiple falsehoods. First off, the IRS is not solely concerned with revenues that are “internal.” Anomalous among the nations of the world, America’s tax authority assumes for itself power over citizens, their families, and “U.S. persons” living abroad, requiring them to file and pay taxes at U.S. rates, even if they have not set foot on American soil in decades — or ever. “Taxation without representation,” indeed.

Wherever in the world your eyes find these words, the IRS very likely believes it has business with you. If you are married or related to an American, or in business with one, or if you have held U.S. residency or even a visa at some time, the IRS can compel your financial institution to provide information on your assets and activities, threatening overwhelming sanctions for non-compliance.

Really, should the “Land of the Free” allow this mendacious and predatory agency to infect other nations in such a manner?

Second, the IRS has long since expanded beyond the concerns of mere “revenue” to become the arbiter of almost every aspect of American life: free speech, charitable giving — even, Saints preserve us, health care.

The recent imbroglio, involving the slow-walking and hard-questioning on applications by right-of-center policy groups for tax-advantaged status, reminds us that America’s marketplace of ideas is overseen by government collectors. As columnist George Will notes, “Remember, all campaign ‘reform’ proposals regulate political speech. And all involve the IRS in allocating speech rights.”