I.R.S. Drops Private Debt Collection Outsourcing Program

As many people expected would happen after the change of ad­min­is­tra­tions in Washington, the IRS has dropped its policy of outsourcing some of its collections to private debt collection agencies.

This was one of the many experiments in potemkin “privatization” the government has engaged in of late. For us tax resisters, the upshot was that instead of having the IRS calling us up and sending us nasty letters demanding that we pay up, we might instead find ourselves getting those calls and letters from “Pioneer Credit Recovery” or some such.

These private debt collection agencies had no flexibility with which to negotiate the tax debt (they couldn’t negotiate an offer-in-compromise or adjudicate a dispute over the amount of the tax debt) and no real power to enforce sanctions (they couldn’t initiate liens, levies, and seizures). So for the tax resister, having your account handed off to a private debt collection agency was mostly just an opportunity to stonewall.

But in any case, the program is no more. The existing contracts end . The IRS says that it hopes to be able to hire more enforcement personnel in-house to take on the work they had been outsourcing.

John Bisceglia at National Equality Tax Revolt says that the idea of tax resistance to protest the sub-equal legal status of same-sex marriage (and the ways in which married gay couples are subjected to additional taxes) seems to be beginning to catch fire.

Judy Weider is the latest one to jump on the bandwagon:

I wonder, is there a polite way to get all our rights?… ¶ …Personally I think rallies and marches have a purpose because they show our numbers to the media. But they’re not enough. And, yes, it’s true, times have changed. Lying down in the streets and being hauled off in paddy wagons is yesterday. It’s a new world. Today it’s all about finances. I say use what is on everyone’s minds. Besides, it’s perfect for what is being taken from us.

The battle cry is very old (): “No taxation without representation.” It’s also very American. The phrase was first used to voice the grievances of the British colonies (that would be us). Just like back then, it means we are not being represented fairly, that we too do not have all the rights other citizens have, so therefore taxing us equally is unconstitutional. If we don’t have the “right to get married,” or the “the right to be in the military,” or “the right to keep our jobs” or “the right to keep our children,” etc., then we shouldn’t give them all our taxes. Any questions?

Now when Joan Baez withheld her taxes to protest the Vietnam War in the 60s, she made headlines and she made her point. But ultimately she had to pay her taxes because she had no legal grounds for withholding the money. Unlike us, she had all her rights. She just didn’t like how the government was spending her money: on the war.

Initially, when Prop. 8 passed, Melissa Etheridge announced she would do exactly what I’m proposing. Then she changed her mind. It won’t work if only a few people do it. It should be obvious that the government will just make them pay. But a huge, well-organized group of people doing it? That’s different. That’s a movement saying something loud and clear.

Oh, but one thing: it’s still rude. And a lot of folks think in light of this wonderful new president, we shouldn’t be rude. He’s got enough to think about. I’m not one of them, as you’ve figured out by now. I think we can do two things at once. We can support the president and our country. But we can also support ourselves.