Is the Internal Revenue Service inevitable?
I’ve often discussed the IRS’s ideologically motivated harassment of taxpayers as fostered by Lois “I Took the Fifth” Lerner (e.g., here and here and here and here). But typical nonpartisan forms of IRS harassment are also deplorable.
Consider the so-called “practice” audit, to which blogger Philip Hamburger was once subjected.
In any field, employees may presumably be sicced on a person primarily for training purposes. If you’re a new Spanish Inquisition employee, maybe you’re given somebody to flay and strangle not because he’s particularly heretical but just so you can hone the torture techniques. Seems wrong; but, you know, people have to be trained.
Same thing at IRS. Taxpayers sometimes get audited just so the new guy can fine-tune making taxpayers sweat over each deduction.
It’s why Hamburger got audited. When an IRS supervisor admitted that there was no problem with his small charitable deduction, that the point was only to enable an (absent) agent to practice auditing, our humble taxpayer almost blew up. Fortunately, his accountant intervened to ask, simply, whether the matter was now therefore closed. Yes, it was.
Year in, year out, the IRS causes millions of us to waste time and energy and to suffer angst thanks to the agency’s sundry demands. Solution: shut it down. No law of nature ordains that our income be federally taxed, and until 1913 it mostly wasn’t.
What prevents such urgently needed reform is only politics, not physics.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.