The Most Feared Government Institution
To even mention the name of this government institution can set off waves of anxiety and stories of abuse and persecution that is unheard of for virtually any other governmental body in this country. It’s really amazing the ability of three little words to instill fear in the hearts of an American citizen when those three little words are – Internal Revenue Service.
When we look a little closer at the mission of the IRS and their actual record of how they handle most of their cases, the level of hysteria we get ourselves into is really pretty silly. For the most part, the abuses and draconian methods that we think of when we talk about the IRS are urban myth. You would think that the IRS existed solely to imprison the American people, take all of their property and make our lives miserable either through audits that resemble the Spanish Inquisition or by keeping us all in constant terror.
This is not to say that over the decades there have not been some abuses that have earned the IRS as least some of the reputation it is still working to live down. Yes, you can dig back and find some pretty awful abuses that the IRS has committed against citizens in the name of tax collection. But to be fair, we can find abuses in many governmental bodies, particularly those with a mission to carry out that is undercover or violent. We can think of phenomenal stories of violence and unethical behavior by the ATF, The FBI, The CIA and all branches of the military. But we don’t as a population cringe in terror in talking about those governmental bodies the way we do when the subject of the IRS comes up in conversation.
You have to wonder why the IRS strikes such fear into our hearts. Part of it is the influence of the media, Hollywood and television. The IRS makes a big target and many times the role of an IRS agent is depicted in movies as a heartless mercenary out to take away everything you own. The specter of an IRS audit is feared with the same loathing of a root canal or torture by foreign spies.
But much of it may come from just a plain and simple distain for paying taxes. We just don’t like the idea of the government taking our money. The cure for this is to step back and examine why taxes are necessary and understand that paying for the operation of a governmental system is the responsibility of all of us. It is not only the patriotic thing to do but it is part of what being a citizen of a great nation does. The IRS are just the clerks assigned with the difficult task of making sure everybody pays their taxes. And, after all, the system is only fair if everybody pays their share.
The truth is that the IRS does all it can not to have to resort to drastic measures to help each citizen participate in the support of the government equally. Many times even the dreaded IRS audit is really no more painful or difficult than getting a bill from your electric company.
It really isn’t the IRS’s fault that the tax laws are complicated and hard to figure out. If we want to fix that, we should go to our congressmen and elected officials. The IRS is really in the same boat we are in. They have to figure out the tax laws and then see to it that we live within them. Blaming the IRS because we don’t like the tax laws or paying taxes in general is the old “bad news, kill the messenger” syndrome.
If we take a more reasonable view of what the IRS is and that they are doing their best, as we all are, to get a job done that not very many people like, we might not only stop fearing and despising them, we might see them as just another governmental body that has to be there just like the military at the federal level and the garbage man or the school board chairman at the local level. These are just good honest Americans doing their best to make the system work. And if we work together, it can work and we can find ways to make it better. 737