As The Beatles once famously sang, “I’m the taxman, yeah, I’m the taxman… and you’re working for no one but me.”
That is, of course, unless you literally work for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). In that case, it appears that you don’t have to pay your taxes – and on top of that, you’ll be paid a bonus for your service!
That’s right… according to a report published by J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, nearly 3,000 IRS workers got bonuses between October 2010 and December 2012 despite facing disciplinary action in the previous year.
Worse yet, 1,150 workers who owed back taxes were still awarded a bonus!
Imagine – employees of the same regulatory agency that’ll hunt you down like a dog for paying less than you owe, receiving bonuses despite not ponying up themselves.
And the money we’re talking about? It’s hardly insubstantial.
George reports that the IRS paid $2.8 million to the more than 2,800 workers who were facing disciplinary action or owed back taxes. That equates to roughly $1,000 per person.
I bet you could’ve used a quick thousand bucks while you were busy paying the taxman earlier this month!
Something Needs to Change
Frankly, it’s incredible to watch the bad news continue to pour out of the IRS.
It was already every American’s least favorite government agency. You’d think that its employees, knowing they perform an innately displeasing task, would try to fly under the radar a little.
But nope. On the contrary, the IRS seems quite content to give American citizens both middle fingers. Awarding bonuses to employees who owe back taxes is just the latest injustice, and though it’s incredibly aggravating, it’s really the least scary of the IRS’ transgressions.
The scandal involving an IRS division that targeted Tea Party-affiliated organizations is a far more insidious deed that, to this day, remains unpunished.
In fact, the man hired by Obama to clean up the IRS, John Koskinen, has instead stonewalled the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee’s investigation into the agency!
At this point, I’m curious to see just how much more bad news has to surface before Congress seriously begins to discuss IRS reform. Luckily, a few Congressmen have already tried to get the ball rolling.
The problem is that downsizing government is nearly impossible, even in the face of blatant corruption. Joseph Tainter, the author of The Collapse of Complex Societies, didn’t believe that complex societies could voluntarily simplify. Instead, an increasingly complex society would end up collapsing, representing a “return to the normal human condition of lower complexity.”
It’s up to Congress to prove Tainter wrong. Reforming (or abolishing) the IRS is a difficult task, but it’s far simpler than reforming an entire government or an entire society. It is possible to fix the problem and, at the same time, introduce a simpler, fairer tax code.
All it would take is some creativity, cooperation and selflessness… and that means it’s time to elect people who are up to the task.
In Pursuit of the Truth,