Now and then there’s a news story about how the decimated ranks of IRS employees has permitted billionaire tax dodgers and deadbeats to get off scot free. With a full staff, critics contend, the IRS could pursue these blackguards and harvest billions in sorely needed uncollected tax revenues each year.
These critics are misguided. If my personal experience with IRS is any indication, it’s clear that, despite working with a skeleton crew, they have more than enough time to be incredibly thorough.
As a physician in private practice, I often worried that I’d be the subject of an audit. It’s well known that IRS assumes all physicians are hiding cash and it watches them like hawks.
I relied on my accountant to navigate the complexities of business related and other write offs as well as the tax deferrals tied to my my independent retirement plan. Even though these deductions were entirely honest and legal, I worried they would somehow red flag my return and trigger an expensive, time consuming audit.
My decision to report every penny of income, including cash payments, was at least one thing, unlike emergency calls in the middle of the night and a two year old who was allergic to bedtime, that didn’t interfere with my sleep in the stress filled days of my early career.
Back then, when charitable contributions were deductible, I frequently told my spouse that charity begins in the home. That we should not be lavish with our donations, but use our money to feather our nest. Later in life, when we would be in a position to be more charitable, we would make up for it. That time did come, and we followed through. Over a few years we made donations many fold greater than what we had given previously.
In the process we gave proof to the adage, “no good deed goes unpunished.”
Shortly before the Trump administration legalized tax evasion for the wealthy and eliminated all deductions for us peons, and just as we were in the process of dealing with the stress of adjusting to life in a new state, we received the long dreaded letter from IRS. They required a ton of documentation on our charitable donations for the past three years. Oh, and we should throw in our medical deductions for good measure.
After digging through our records that were buried among the unopened boxes left over from our move, and spending the next several months with visions of living out our days in poverty or federal prison, we got a response from the ever on the job tax guys.
“Golly,” said they, after the cost of paying our accountant to deal with the audit wiped out all the tax savings we had realized and more, “you actually were completely honest.” Now wasn’t that nice of them?
They left us alone after that. For a while. But recently we received an enigmatic letter stating our 2020 return had contained a “miscomputation on tax owed” to the tune of a walloping $32 dollars. But, not to worry said they, because we had “been credited” that $32. So we owed zero and we should kindly disregard the letter.
I sent the letter to my accountant asking him to tell me, if he could do so without having to bill me hundreds of bucks, what the heck this was all about. His reply was that he had no clue why they’d bothered with this since, indeed, the $32 in question, along with the thousands the Feds shook out of my pockets during their annual “pick him up and turn him upside down” game, had been duly paid.
If IRS is as overwhelmed as people say, how could they be wasting time on this kind of thing? I envision a couple of tax guys sitting around the office wondering what to do with their spare time. “Hey Bob,” says one, “should we finish Trump’s audit so he can finally fulfill his pledge to reveal his taxes to the nation?” “Are you nuts, Bill?” Replies Bob, “Get your priorities straight. We need to get to the bottom of this mysterious $32 issue.”
Just look at how those overburdened, underpaid tax guys are taking their job so seriously, crossing every “t” and dotting every “i.” Twice it seems
Seeing how the IRS has more than enough time on their hands to keep tabs on such nefarious characters as I, how can anyone make such a ridiculous claim that they are understaffed?
According to a Reuters article on IRS commissioner Charles Rettig’s recent address to Congress, IRS fails to collect a trillion bucks annually, enough to a pay off Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan in less than four years. Charles, maybe you should get out of your office once in a while. I’ll bet you’ll see how your skeleton crew are diligently flushing out scoundrels like me. If they have time to keep such close tabs on us paupers, they surely don’t need any help.
As for me, I feel reassured and proud that, thanks to the ever vigilant IRS, President Joe put my 32 big ones in the bank. Don’t be sucked in by the argument that, if we bolstered IRS staffing, they’d come up with enough dough to pay for their salaries a million times over. The cold facts of my experience say otherwise. Clearly, what they lack in personnel, they make up for with efficiency and an uncanny ability to focus on the cases that really matter.