Pity The Poor IRS And Its Union!

John Linder Former Congressman
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Catherine Rampell’s recent Washington Post article explaining IRS difficulties under their recent budget cuts had the markings of an IRS press release given legitimacy by a newspaper. The facts put forth to outline their plight have been trotted out by the IRS year after year to justify their failures.

I have been waiting for this feel-good story since it was disclosed last week that the IRS operatives in the National Treasury Employees Union were in cahoots with the White House to trample on your political rights.

This comes on the heels of the admission by IRS operatives that they had illegally sent a million pages of protected taxpayer information to the FBI in hopes of building a case for criminal prosecution of groups whose politics the union disapproved of.

Rampell’s headline is that the mean-spirited, hard-hearted cuts in IRS appropriations virtually guarantee tax hikes: “Maybe not today … but sometime soon.”

She argues that the IRS is a “cash-flow-positive” agency that collects $255 for every dollar appropriated to the agency. Isn’t that special! The clear implication is that a million dollar cut in the IRS budget will result in a quarter billion dollar reduction in federal revenues.

That is laughable. Of that $255 collected, $254 is collected and remitted by your employer. It goes directly to a bank caging operation and ends up in the federal treasury without a single union hand touching it.

What the IRS actually does for about $13 billion a year is go after that extra dollar, in a collection process with many components. One would think that all they do is harass conservative groups and rich tax avoiders. Not so fast.

That budget also pays for $700,000 for travel on union business, $4 million for a Star Trek-themed “training” session in Las Vegas, and salaries for federal employees who spend, collectively, 600,000 man-hours per year on union business.

We can agree on one point made in this sob story. Customer service at the IRS has indeed suffered. Of all of the calls made to the IRS “helpline,” only 40 percent actually get through to a customer service representative. I did notice one important fact missing from this piece of the story, however. Of those who do get to speak to an IRS “helper,” more than half of them received answers that were incomplete or just wrong. Somehow that piece of information didn’t make the cut.

Finally, no defense of the IRS would be complete without whining about “tax expenditures” which “totaled an estimated $1.4 trillion last fiscal year, and that figure is likely to grow.”

What is tax expenditure, you say? Rampell says it is “spending through the tax code.” It is actually a euphemism for the money they don’t get to collect when you take legal deductions. Do you deduct your union dues? That is a tax expenditure. Do you give to your church? Nope. They give to your church. It is an expense to the IRS.

It is true that a tax law, which now consumes 74,000 pages, is a target for corruption. What is not so clear is how giving the IRS more money will solve anything.

There is a solution, but you won’t hear it from the Washington Post. It’s time to repeal the code! Over the last two and a half years the IRS has been proven to be corrupt. It needs to be put away. It stuns me it has survived as long as it has.

IRS leaders have lied through their teeth before Congress and then strolled out of the room with an arrogance that says, “What are you going to do about it?” Finally, before a federal judge, who could actually throw them in jail, they admit the truth.

The Internal Revenue Service has outlived its useful purpose and is in desperate need of a ceremonial burial with full military honors.

There are many serious proposals for a replacement. I favor the FairTax. Others propose a value added tax or a gross receipts tax. Any of these could be collected by 50 separate state agencies — 45 of them already collect consumption taxes — without gathering any personal information on any of us.

Americans deserve on this Christmas the greatest gift a free society has the power to give – anonymity! No agency of government should know more about us than we are willing to tell our children.