(Working at) the I.R.S. Sucks!

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.”

    Tuccille responds:

    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. Excerpts:

    “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.

I found some more coverage about the case of poor Herman Bausch, who was imprisoned for 28 months by the state of Montana for allegedly making seditious statements to the lynch mob that held him captive and threatened him after he refused to buy ostensibly voluntary “Liberty Bonds” to support the U.S. war effort during World War Ⅰ.

The following article appeared in the Billings, Montana Gazette on :

Alleged German Sympathizer Pleads Guilty to Charge of Sedition in District Court

Herman Bausch Admits Making Alleged Seditious Remarks and Sentence Will Be Passed by Judge Taylor — Defendant Deeds All His Property, Valued at $18,000, to Wife.

After turning over to his wife, Mr. Helen L. Bausch, all his property, valued at $18,000, Herman Bausch, naturalized German rancher jailed here on a charge of making alleged seditious statements, pleaded guilty to the charge filed against him before Judge Charles A. Taylor in district court . Judge Taylor fixed as the time for passing sentence. Bausch is held in the county jail in default of $2,500 bond.

Bausch is the first man in Yellowstone county to be prosecuted under the new anti-sedition law of Montana. Announcement that he was to enter a plea attracted a large crowd of interested citizens. Judge Taylor took the case under advisement and held a private conference with Bausch that he might arrive at a satisfactory conclusion.

In a deed and bill of sale filed with the county clerk and recorder , Bausch effected the transfer of all his holdings to his wife, for a consideration of “one dollar, love, and affection.” Whether the transfer would hold good in the event Bausch is ordered to pay a fine is regarded as doubtful among local attorneys. The property consists of 20 acres of improved land near the western limits of the city, together with all appurtenances thereon, including livestock and farm machinery, and three lots and two houses in Billings. Bausch values the ranch at $10,000 and the city property at $8,000.

Says He Was Misled

“I think I have been misunderstood,” declared Bausch in his broken English, when granted permission by the court to say a few words after admitting his guilt. “I always thought I was as good an American citizen as there is. I will admit that I carried some resentment on account of the hatred (toward Germans) there is here and there, more written than spoken. I am very glad, and will be glad to do anything I can to make good the error and I throw myself on the mercy of the court.”

Penalty for the crime of sedition, as set forth in the law passed by the extraordinary session of the state legislature, is a fine of not less than $300 nor more than $20,000, or imprisonment in the state prison for not less than one year nor more than 20 years, or both such fine and imprisonment.

Refuses to Buy Bonds.

Bausch was jailed after he had given unsatisfactory answers to a committee of citizens before whom he was summoned. The citizen’s committee summoned Bausch for a hearing after Liberty bond salesmen reported that he had consistently refused to invest in bonds or thrift stamps, or to contribute to the Red Cross or any other organization directly or indirectly connected with war activities.

Since his incarceration, Bausch has been visited by his wife and her father and other relatives, all of whom are reported to have made ineffectual attempts to convince Bausch of his un-American attitude and advised him to alter his stand. Bausch, however, remained firm in the stand he took before the citizens’ committee, those present at the interviews said, and stubbornly contended that he was a “law-abiding citizen,” and that he “did not have to contribute to war causes unless he chose.”

Disregarding the publicly expressed sentiments of her husband, Mrs. Bausch last night subscribed to $300 worth of Liberty bonds through Secretary C.W. Able of the Y.M.C.A., a volunteer salesman. Mrs. Bausch paid $150, all the money they had in the bank, she said, and announced that she would pay the balance later. Mrs. Bausch called Mr. Able at his office and asked him to come to the ranch and get the subscription.

This last-minute brown-nosing did not satisfy the bullies and they sentenced Bausch to a long prison term anyway.

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