Some bits and pieces from here and there:
- Things continue to look awful at the IRS. Bloomberg Businessweek did a recent cover story with the delightful title “The IRS Sucks” which focused on what a dreadful place to work at the IRS has become.
- J.D. Tuccille at Hit & Run, seized on this
excerpt from the Businessweek article:
Whether they worked in Manhattan or Peoria, IRS veterans talk about something else that kept them at the service: the feeling of camaraderie. It was nice that they appreciated one another, because nobody else did. “You go to a party, and if you say you are from the IRS, half the people move into the other room,” says Richard Schickel, a former senior collections officer in Tucson who retired in . “After a while, your wife and relatives get tired of listening to your stories. They say, ‘How could you take those people’s houses and their businesses?’ The only place you get understanding is with other IRS people.”
When the people who live with you and (let’s assume) love you recoil from you in shock and horror because of your behavior so that the only refuge you can find is among others guilty of the same conduct, perhaps you should consider the possibility that you’re doing something really bad.
- Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that the Dallas office of the IRS has stopped sending collection officers after people who owe less than $1 million in back taxes.
While the agency may still use simple automated tools against smaller debts, like levies on bank accounts and salaries or liens on homes, it no longer will assign agents to chase down assets unless there’s at least seven figures involved.
“I have to say, sorry, we can’t get that money,” said Richard Christian, supervisory revenue officer for the Dallas area. “Nobody’s ever going to knock on their door.”
- Kerry Pechter at the Retirement Income Journal looks back at the Fries rebellion in the early United States. Excerpt:
When the tax assessors first approached the houses in northern Bucks County, a homeowner threatened to “commit him to an old stable and there feed him on rotten corn.” In a confrontation in nearby Quakertown, one of the local residents cried out to an assessor, “Damn you Roderick, we have got you now, you shall go to the liberty pole and dance around it!” The government in Philadelphia was denounced as a parcel of “spitz-bube” — a local German epithet for thieves.
Yet serious issues were at stake. The “house tax” that the Federalist administration attempted to assess was America’s first direct tax. The tax was small (a mere $1 on the smallest houses) and progressive, but it was the first tax assessed directly on people and their possessions, and not on transactions. It was also a tax that defined houses in an arbitrary new way: personal wealth rather than as a personal expense. The tax fell more severely on yeoman farmers, who had improved their land, than on land speculators, who were merely waiting for prices to rise. It reminded farmers of the British Stamp Act, which helped trigger the American Revolution.
And bitter feelings already existed between the Federalists in Philadelphia and the farmers to the north. There were class barriers, language barriers, and cultural barriers, as well as deeply held prejudices, between the wealthy, English-speaking urban Quaker assessors and the largely poor, recently immigrated German-speaking Lutheran and German Reform farmers, who knew each other as “kirchenleute.”
The political divide was just as deep. The farmers were mainly “republicans” (Jeffersonians) who had fought in the revolution 15 years earlier and valued personal liberty above all. The assessors, often Quaker pacifists who sat out the war, were Hamiltonians who favored a strong central government led by elites. The farmers, moreover, sympathized with the recent French revolution, and resented a tax that they knew would help finance a war against the French. The tax was also linked to the policy behind the repressive, anti-democratic Alien & Sedition Acts.
- The success of the anti-austerity left-wing coalition in the last Greek elections has slowed, but not stopped, the activity of the “won’t pay” movement there. Protests at toll gates — which include lifting the bars and waving cars through — are continuing.
- American war tax resister Joanna Castro explains her stand in Oregon’s Register-Guard.