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Our Friend, the IRS

Law and order is a big topic recently, as police and law enforcement have come under scrutiny. There are those who want to reduce police budgets because some officers have been abusive. Others want to simply reduce the scope of police responsibility for mental health issues and the like. Similarly, the IRS has had a bad rap in recent years.

Is the IRS your friend? Who likes paying taxes? The IRS has a bad reputation for many people. That led Congress to reduce the IRS budget over recent years. I don’t excuse bad behavior by a few agents, but we do need the IRS to efficiently collect the funds needed for our federal government. What happens when Congress fails to provide adequate funds for the IRS operational budget? You and I, the small fry, don’t benefit. But someone does. Corporations and the wealthy are the biggest beneficiaries of the IRS’ decay.

Consider a few facts. Testimony before Congress February 2020, revealed the following. Since 2010, IRS enforcement funding has been cut 24 percent, while the number of tax returns has grown by 9 percent. The number of agents with the expertise to conduct audits of complex returns has fallen by 35 percent, and total audits have fallen by 45 percent. The audit rate for corporations with more than $1 billion in assets is down 51 percent. The audit rate for people with more than $1 million in annual income is down 61 percent. That is a big problem.

It takes specialized, well-trained personnel to audit a business or a billionaire or to unravel a tax scheme. But many of those experienced employees are retiring, taking their expertise with them. Remaining agents cannot keep up with challenge, so enforcement is dropping. Research shows the wealthiest people evade taxes the most, but the IRS is now less to be feared. And such folks often have a team of accountants and lawyers helping them stretch or compress the facts, or hide income so they can squeak through with less taxes and still avoid an audit. Each year, we the people of the United States who own the government, are losing 400 billion dollars taxes owed but evaded.

The Congressional Budget Office estimates that every $1 added to the IRS budget would produce $3 in added revenue. That sounds like a good investment. I consider the IRS our friend, just like any other cop on the beat who needs our help to enforce the law. I have only met two IRS agents in person, and both seemed to be people of integrity, working in public service, aimed at maintaining the law and order we deserve in government. I consider the IRS an agency we all need, and in fact, maybe you, too, can consider the IRS and its agents to be your friends.

The Apostle Paul, who had plenty of trouble with government authorities, and lived under the rule of the Roman Empire, nevertheless encouraged his fellow Christians to obey laws and pay taxes. Amazing! All of Romans 13:1-7 relates to this topic but the following excerpt is enough for today.

Pay your taxes, too, for these same reasons. For government workers need to be paid. They are serving God in what they do. 7 Give to everyone what you owe them: Pay your taxes and government fees to those who collect them, and give respect and honor to those who are in authority. Romans 13:6–7 (NLT)

© Stanley Hagemeyer 2021

Note: A large part of the above article appeared in a letter of mine to the Ludington Daily News February 24, 2021.

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