Today’s grab-bag:

  • Conversations with the IRS — what happened when a war tax resister who hadn’t filed in years finally got called on the carpet by an IRS agent.
  • A follow-up on Health Savings Accounts answers two questions about the new tax-sheltered savings plans: 1) Are you obligated to withdraw from the accounts to pay your health expenses, or can you keep the sheltered money there as an additional IRA-like investment? 2) What happens to your Health Savings Account when you die?
  • The Consumer-Driven Health Care Association web site has links to a number of companies that offer the new Health Savings Account plans.
  • The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has issued a scathing report on the failures of IRS enforcement efforts:

    [O]f 172 tax convictions studied, more than $2.5 million in back taxes, interest and penalties went unpaid by people who ignored the terms of their sentences.

    For example, the IRS’s criminal investigations division closed 37 cases with probationary periods ending . Of those 37, only six complied with their sentences, which included payment of back taxes, penalties and interest, the report said. In 11 cases, the convicted tax evaders were not at fault, since the IRS failed to inform them of the terms of their penalties. In 12 cases of known noncompliance, the IRS’s criminal investigators did not bother to notify the criminals’ probation officers or the criminal courts.

    “To say that it looks like the IRS is dropping the ball in these cases would be an understatement,” Sen. Max Baucus of Montana, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement. “We’ve caught the criminal, prosecuted the crime and handed out the sentence. Seeing that the sentence is enforced should be the easiest part of the whole process.”

    “The old saying is, ‘If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.’ Now it seems you don’t have to do the time or even pay a dime,” Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee’s chairman, said in a statement.

  • Here’s a great idea for a revenue booster: Let’s say you’re a government that’s wrongfully convicted somebody and therefore imprisoned an innocent person for years. Why should you have to pay for that person’s food and lodging all those years when that prisoner had no legal right to such good treatment? (I’m reminded of the government of China charging condemned victims’ families for the bullets used to execute them):

    David Blunkett, the Labour Home Secretary… will fight in the Royal Courts of Justice in London for the right to charge victims of miscarriages of justice more than £3000 for every year they spent in jail while wrongly convicted. The logic is that the innocent man shouldn’t have been in prison eating free porridge and sleeping for nothing under regulation grey blankets.

  • Agency initiates steps for selective draft — “The government is taking the first steps toward a targeted military draft of Americans with special skills in computers and foreign languages”
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