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Davis Journal

New IRS agents are necessary – despite what fat cats say

Sep 01, 2022 02:38PM ● By Bryan Gray

The Beatles had no sympathy for the tax collector (“The Taxman”)…The largest selling fiction author of the 20th century consistently lamented that she worried about finances due to income and property taxes…One wag said there was only one difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector – the taxidermist leaves the hide!

The Internal Revenue Service is undoubtedly the most-scorned department in the federal government. Similarly, recent county tax notices to Utah property owners have led to more cuss words than 20 years of golf.

We recognize that some taxes are minuscule. A county arts and recreation tax adds up to two cents on the purchase of a large pizza, and most of us don’t balk at the cost-effective tax for libraries and mosquito abatement.  A majority of Utahns don’t even complain much about the combined public school, state education, and charter school levy which comprises about 66% of most county property tax bills.

But there is a general fear of the IRS and its audits, a paranoia which right-wingers like Sen. Ted Cruz and other Republican officials are seizing as an election year ploy. Granted, the Democrat’s “Inflation Reduction Act” is not likely going to reduce inflation, but according to most economists does little to increase it either. What it does do is attempt to hire some 87,000 new IRS employees (some agents, some auditors, most paperwork processors) over a period of time to make up for the 50,000 employees who have left during the past five years and 50% of current IRS staffers who are eligible for retirement. (If you have ever attempted to telephone the IRS with a question, you understand the staffing problem.)

Yet the GOP howling would make you think a sinkhole has swallowed up Mar-a-Lago! Sen. Cruz claims the agents will target everyday Americans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says the “IRS army will be coming for you.”  A Georgia representative conjures up IRS agents “toting guns.”  Never once, said Cruz, has any citizen ever requested that the country hire more agents to confiscate a family’s money. 

Look beyond this radical rhetoric.  First, according to the IRS commissioner, agents will mostly be used to look at the tax returns of giant corporations and taxpayers earning over $500,000 per year.  That makes perfect sense.  As a bank robber once said, he robbed banks, not small businesses, “because that’s where the money is.”

Secondly, anyone with a brain understands that tax collections are necessary to meet the expenditures we, through our Congressmen, approved.  The IRS is no more a coercive “army” than the local cop.  Policemen are needed to help us obey traffic laws; with no policemen, we would see an extreme increase in motorists running red lights and pushing 100 mph on our highways.  Similarly, without the IRS, how many Americans would pay their honest share of taxes?  (Even today, studies show a majority of taxpayers “fudge a little” on their taxes. What would it be without a “tax cop”?)

And remember that a country without taxes would resemble Somalia. Without a federal income tax we wouldn’t have a military and its civilian-related jobs. Neither would we have clean water protections, highways, Social Security collections, healthcare initiatives, airports, etc.  Again, you might think the federal government has its fingers in too many pies, but it’s your representatives in Congress who voted for it. 

The country has bills and our taxes need to pay them.  For this, we need an effective and more efficient IRS. For that, you need staff.  Case closed!

Bryan Gray, a long time Davis County resident, is a former school teacher and has been a columnist for more than 26 years in newspapers along the Wasatch Front.λ