A Fresh Tactic for Canadian War Tax Resisters

Donald Hughes proposes an interesting strategy for Canadian tax resisters. Apparently, in Canada you can get a tax credit (up to $650 or so) for donating money to the campaigns of political candidates.

Hughes suggests that tax resisters either register as “gadfly” candidates, or ally with a “gadfly” candidate to spend these campaign contributions on advertising for their causes, in a way that is ostensibly election-oriented but really designed to promote the causes.

“[T]his could be a substantial guerrilla advertising campaign on one or a handful of issues,” Hughes writes. “Cleverly done, you could easily multiply this through with free media and word of mouth. Obviously it is no substitute for other types of organizing, I just think it is an interesting way to both reduce your taxes while promoting your beliefs, without getting thrown in jail.”

Some more information on the IRS plan to turn over some of its cases to private debt collection agencies, from the New York Times:

, the IRS will turn over data on 12,500 taxpayers — each of whom owes $25,000 or less in back taxes — to three collection agencies. Larger debtors will continue to be pursued by IRS officers.

The move, an initiative of the Bush administration, represents the first step in a broader plan to outsource the collection of smaller tax debts to private companies over time. Although IRS officials acknowledge that this will be much more expensive than doing it internally, they say that Congress has forced their hand by refusing to let them hire more revenue officers, who could pull in a lot of easy-to-collect money.

The private debt collection program is expected to bring in $1.4 billion over 10 years, with the collection agencies keeping about $330 million of that, or 22 to 24 cents on the dollar.

By hiring more revenue officers, the IRS could collect more than $9 billion each year and spend only $296 million — or about three cents on the dollar — to do so, Charles O. Rossotti, the computer systems entrepreneur who was commissioner , told Congress .

IRS officials on Friday characterized those figures as correct, but said that the plan Mr. Rossotti had proposed had been forestalled by Congress, which declined to authorize it to hire more revenue officers.

Privatizing government services is often promoted as a way to cut costs. But the government would probably net $1.1 billion from private debt collectors over 10 years, compared with the $87 billion that could be reaped if the agency hired more revenue officers, as Mr. Rossotti had recommended.

Under federal budget rules, money spent to hire tax collectors is treated as a discretionary expense, and Congress is cutting discretionary spending. In business terms, the rules treat the IRS as a cost center, not as the government’s profit center.

The private debt-collection program, however, is outside the budget rules because, except for the start-up costs, the collectors are to be paid from the proceeds.

Don’t know whether to laugh or cry? Try alternating between ’em.