How the IRS Was Gutted
December 11, 2018 5:38 AM   Subscribe

 
It’s almost as if the GOP would happily destroy the country to line the pockets of a handful of wealthy people.

They’ve been remarkably good as selling this as “populist.”
posted by chasing at 5:45 AM on December 11, 2018 [22 favorites]


You have to admit, the right plays a well-planned and disciplined long game. That said, I never expected to see their goal of killing-off government come so close to fruition so quickly.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:45 AM on December 11, 2018 [4 favorites]


related: the american commonwealth is shockingly impoverished.

i have to argue with people when i hear them say stuff about how "government is inefficient," because it represents a fundamental misunderstanding of how resources are allocated in our american society.

our collective holdings are plundered.
posted by entropone at 6:36 AM on December 11, 2018 [8 favorites]


The trend is very much the same in the UK, with HMRC massively under-funded and struggling to even answer phone calls.
posted by pipeski at 6:43 AM on December 11, 2018


the right plays a well-planned and disciplined long game.

That's just phase 1.
  • Phase 2: Government agencies can't do the job! So hand core revenue collection services over to private entities and allow them to operate for a profit.
  • Phase 3: Taxes go down, but private entities complain that operating costs leave little room for profit
  • Phase 4: Private entities given green light to add reasonable fees, so now your IRS Powered By TurboTax tax-bill comes with 3% service administration fee, 1% operating cost recovery fee, 0.1% per day late-fee, 2.5% audit protection plan and a one-time $200 donation to the Tax Privatization Superpack
posted by rh at 6:43 AM on December 11, 2018 [32 favorites]


Phase 5: the rabble doesn't have enough money any more to pay for all these fancy privatized services, or much else for that matter
Phase 6: ?
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:59 AM on December 11, 2018 [4 favorites]


I suspect it’s actually “PoPulist” as in “Person of Privilege.”
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:06 AM on December 11, 2018 [2 favorites]


Just a thought here. Maybe the US should finally stop demanding non-resident foreign nationals who have the misfortune of also having US citizenship file every year despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of them owe nothing. Save some resources for chasing down actual tax cheats instead of chasing after people who don’t live or earn money in the bloody country. Only two countries in the world — the US and Eritrea — tax foreign income of non-resident citizens. The US also demands foreign banks and governments spend all sorts of money and resources reporting on such people. And good luck going through the massive expense and hell of getting rid of your unwanted US citizenship, before everyone jumps in that bandwagon.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:10 AM on December 11, 2018 [10 favorites]


Save some resources for

Nope. Fund the damn government.

The rest of your issue is a derail.
posted by Etrigan at 7:48 AM on December 11, 2018 [16 favorites]


Americans are spending money and resources taxing the world and imposing unilateral and ridiculous rules on foreigners and other countries, yet can’t even keep its own internal house in order. This is imperial overstretch and completely relevant to the issue.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:10 AM on December 11, 2018 [3 favorites]


Phase 5: the rabble doesn't have enough money any more to pay for all these fancy privatized services, or much else for that matter
Phase 6: ?


You die of a random thing like a heart attack because emergency services are privatized and you can't afford their "deluxe, express service" so they show up 20+ minutes later. The government is still looted for a ton of money on your behalf.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 8:16 AM on December 11, 2018 [3 favorites]


Yeah, but once the people making and selling stuff run out of customers with enough money to buy it? I guess the plan is "I won't be here when it blows up."
posted by The Card Cheat at 8:25 AM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Maybe the US should finally stop demanding non-resident foreign nationals who have the misfortune of also having US citizenship file every year despite the fact that the overwhelming majority of them owe nothing. Save some resources for chasing down actual tax cheats...This is imperial overstretch and completely relevant to the issue.

The one way these issues overlap is that paying taxes outside the US is a pain because its customer service budget has been cut, but this really is not generally relevant to 'the issue' of IRS under-funding, which has declined by billions of dollars: does the IRS spend a comparable number of billions of dollars dealing with citizens living abroad that it could cut? Because if it doesn't (and: it doesn't.), then it's literally impossible to 'save some resources' from dealing with taxes for citizens abroad that would help here.

Whether the US should change how it handles those taxes is a totally great thing to discuss in a different thread about taxation generally, but that has nothing to do with how IRS funding cuts have disproportionately benefited wealthy Americans living in America, and wealthy American corporations doing business in American, and directly harmed American citizens living in America by reducing the amount of taxes that are actually available to spend on improving the country.

From the article:
Corporations and the wealthy are the biggest beneficiaries of the IRS’ decay. Most Americans’ interaction with the IRS is largely automated. But it takes specialized, well-trained personnel to audit a business or a billionaire or to unravel a tax scheme — and those employees are leaving in droves and taking their expertise with them. For the country’s largest corporations, the danger of being hit with a billion-dollar tax bill has greatly diminished. For the rich, who research shows evade taxes the most, the IRS has become less and less of a force to be feared.
That's a huge problem, and changing how non-resident foreign nationals with US citizenship interact with the IRS will have a negligible impact at most. Maybe that's something that should happen anyway, but it's unrelated to this issue.
posted by cjelli at 9:11 AM on December 11, 2018 [9 favorites]


Anyone that wants to change this simply needs to frame up a crackdown on "corruption", ideally after a few choice prosecutions that go really well and result in huge penalties to huge bastards; in most cases you won't really need a tax expert for those prosecutions, but the adjacent crimes provide leverage in the public eye (so to speak; I'm not convinced the American public isn't entirely blind, deaf and mute).
posted by aramaic at 9:17 AM on December 11, 2018


Phase 6:

what happened to Antoine Lavoisier
posted by Pembquist at 9:24 AM on December 11, 2018


I don't have much of substance to add, but I do want to say that, as someone who had to talk to the IRS and the state version of the IRS frequently over a number of years because of an accountant's pretty massive fuck up, I was surprised and delighted to find that literally every single employee I ever spoke to at the IRS (or the state equivalent) was kind, patient, and incredibly fucking helpful.

Like to the point where I honestly did not understand it. Except that maybe you have to be that kind of person to keep working there, dealing with people at their most stressed and aggravated? I don't know. But without fail, IRS employees were fucking awesome.

They deserve to work in a country club with catering and free spa treatments while they're applauded for going after white collar criminals. Like there should be an IRS recap show on ESPN and a goddamn highlight reel. Let's put that in the Dem platform, please.
posted by schadenfrau at 9:32 AM on December 11, 2018 [27 favorites]


This is imperial overstretch and completely relevant to the issue.

A college football team is playing against a much bigger school. They get the kickoff, and march down the field to the other team's 2 yard line. They go for a lateral for the touchdown, but a defensive lineman snatches the ball out of midair and runs 98 yards for the touchdown. The bigger school then proceeds to crush the smaller school 70-0.

The coach of the smaller school's team is asked after the game, "How do you think it would have gone if you'd got the touchdown on the first drive?"

He thinks for a moment, then says, "We would have lost 70-7."

If all the money spent on chasing American citizens living and earning abroad (which, at the moment, include billionaire scumbag Erik Prince and, I'm sure, many other billionaire scumbags just like him) hadn't been spent over the last eight years, this post would be exactly the same. The war being waged on the very idea of taxation would still have been and would continue to be waged by the exact same people in the exact same ways.
posted by Etrigan at 9:45 AM on December 11, 2018 [8 favorites]


this is bleak
posted by sarahdrugs at 9:46 AM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, the DoD budget gets to increase $12B to $750,000,000,000 because 'Murica.
posted by msbutah at 10:21 AM on December 11, 2018 [3 favorites]


The IRS may not be able to tax the rich, but the poor can still eat the rich.
posted by scose at 1:31 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


Mail Me to the GOP

Mail Me to the GOP is the result of a desire expressed on Twitter by writer Nicole Silverberg to “mail my body to Paul Ryan's house” in the event she died because of “TrumpCare,” a term used to describe Donald Trump’s healthcare bill.
posted by bendy at 1:47 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


"support the troops or i'll kick your ass"

"i actually pay a shitload of taxes"

"no not like that"
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:43 PM on December 11, 2018 [5 favorites]


So here is a story.
I filed taxes for the first time when I finished college and started working and so, you know, had what to file.
A year later, as I set off to file taxes again, I got a letter from the IRS that my previous filing was being held up because they didn't have any previous record of me and needed to be sure I wasn't comitting identity theft on myself.
I called the IRS office to ask what I needed to do to fix the situation.
The phone call somehow turned into a surprise therapy session, in which the exhausted man with a sob in his voice told me about how people file fraudulent returns and then there's no way to track them down afterwards and as a result the IRS is bleeding money and it's so hard and hurtful and frustrating, while I said "there, there, it'll be okay, you're doing a great job".
(eventually I had to go in person to a different IRS office. They informed me I was not supposed to be filing taxes. I tried to argue with them that, in fact, I was. The situation has yet to be fully resolved, although tax season is rolling around again...)
posted by Cozybee at 11:30 PM on December 11, 2018 [1 favorite]


what happened to Antoine Lavoisier

Since I know the guillotine was named after the guy inventing it, I knew you had to mean something else. I guess I was not disappointed.
posted by DreamerFi at 2:09 AM on December 12, 2018


« Older Unexpected item in the bagging area   |   The Guardians and the War on Truth: TIME's Person... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments