Updated: Aug 16
Monday, August 15th, 2022
Taxation has been sold to us as an essential way to procure revenue for government to better our lives collectively. As a citizen, you pay into a pot and those funds are used to build infrastructure like roads, support the troops, law enforcement, court systems, schools, etc. All things that make for what we consider to be our functioning society. However, the tax code has become so convoluted, and so partisan, that restructuring how we levy taxes feels impossible. But most importantly, the government's use of tax dollars has been opaque and wildly inefficient. The solution cannot be inflating the bloat of one of the most distrusted government agencies, nor can it be willy-nilly abolishment of 3-letter agencies without a proper plan in place.
Our trust in government, both state and federal has always been low, but today feels especially abysmal. While I welcome healthy skepticism and accountability - knowing full well that corruption exists - government, and taxes, do serve a functional purpose. Government should operate in a faciliatory means and there is no question we need a collective revenue bucket to build and maintain collective goods like roads and law enforcement. Staunch Libertarians would likely argue that any taxation is theft, and while I enjoy touting that fun phrase as a catch all "f*** you" to the IRS, its abolishment isn't a realistic goal.
But rather than address the disdain for the IRS, congress is sending them a larger budget, bringing forth the ire of many fiscal conservatives.
The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is set to be signed by President Biden this week after being heavily contested in the House and Senate. Within the 755 page long package rests roughly $78 billion for the IRS over the next 10 years. The language of the act sets this money to be used for things like updated taxpayer services, tax collection, criminal investigations, etc.
Republican Rhetoric Ramps Up
We need to first address the accusations and assumptions being lobbed at the Biden Admin's intentions behind this budgetary boost for the IRS. I am absolutely no fan of giving the IRS money without a proper, bipartisan plan of agency reduction, but Republicans get so caught up in their partisan talking points, they forget to not shoot themselves in the foot with irresponsible tweets and calls to action.
There is NO directive from the Biden admin for the IRS to use funding to hire 87,000 new agents as many on the right have suggested. And there is NO plan for the IRS to send any new hires to your door for a shakedown. GOP leaders like Kevin McCarthy here need to be more responsible with their words - but such is the nature of twitter.
The reality is that the right has used this number to show the hilarity in funding the IRS with enough of a budget to hire 87,000 personnel by the year 2031 - cited from the IRS' own internal budget report. It is incorrect for the GOP to assert that the IRS is ACTUALLY hiring all 87,000 personnel to raid the public. There is nothing coming from the Biden Administration directing this.
Suggesting that President Biden intends to send armed IRS agents, forcing themselves into your home, is egregious.
That being said, I don't consider this specific fear mongering as toxic is others. It is mocking the government's inability to recognize how fear and anger already exist. People have hated the IRS since it's inception. That hate has grown as trust in government to spend our dollars wisely has waned. Republicans may be being hyperbolic, but I don't believe any of them actually think 87,000 agents are marching down your street.
The IRS does claim that it intends to use the enforcement aspect of the budget to go after wealthy offenders making more than $400k a year, pushing back on the GOP narrative that IRS agents are coming for the common person.
But Washington's refusal to be self aware - sending more money to this agency known for taking hard earned money and mismanaging it - furthers the common American's disdain for both them and the IRS.
This creates a pretty easy target for Republicans to hit on when criticizing the Biden Administration and Democrats in Congress leading up to crucial elections. Its hard to blame the GOP for sounding the alarm on more money going to an unpopular agency.
A Common Enemy
I know. Its a pipe dream to think the two major political parties could sit down at a table and actually discuss how to better work anything in government, let alone the IRS. They deal in the business of taking people's money, and giving the surplus back later in the year - begging the question as to why they needed to scrape away at my paycheck in the first place?!
Congress could use this ire to side with the public and lean into the hate towards the IRS. Hold a joint committee hearing on how the IRS functions and lay the blame at their feet in an effortless marketing play to show the American people they care enough to hold the IRS accountable. Congress is who ultimately spends and appropriates the funding, but the tax code would be a perfect starting point for a bipartisan effort in actually addressing citizen concerns. Rather than using it as a political football, use it as fuel to spark a joint venture.
Clearly I live in a dream world...
Both the GOP and Democrats have bloated this agency beyond it's scope to the point where it is inefficient at doing its original purpose. As of a few days ago, the IRS reported that upwards of 10 million Americans are STILL waiting for their tax refunds. Rather than discussing an overhaul of what and how the IRS conducts its role in our system, we're relegated to playing partisan politics.
I'm not advocating for the abolishment of the IRS's functional purpose, but I am very tired of yet another bureaucratic agency with unelected personnel being given an ungodly amount of funding without any attempt at fixing the issues that exist. Its not about how much you spend, its about how you spend it. There is no question that IRS fat needs to be trimmed.
Letting career bureaucrats run amuck with an inflated budget and no clear direction to improve their purpose or repair the agency's relationship with the American people? That to me is irresponsible. ..
How Do We Tax Appropriately?
Everyone has their thoughts on how much tax should be levied on income, sales, capital gains, etc. While most understand sales taxes, the one that irks everyone is the broadly applied income tax based on income level. So the question is whether or not there is a fair application. The late Herman Cain touted a "flat tax" which consisted of 9% tax across the board. Others have floated raising sales taxes and eliminating income tax altogether.
I've always thought it would be a neat idea to give some power to the voter and allow each individual to dictate where a certain percentage of their taxes go. If I'm passionate about school? I can opt in for 75% of my taxes to go towards public education. The government still needs some revenue to deal with unplanned things that pop up, so maybe give each person 60% of their taxes to have ownership over and the rest goes into a transparent collective fund for discretionary spending.
I just spit-balled this in 5 mins. These are the kind of ideas and discussions our leaders should be having rather than jacking up the budget of the IRS. Get the American people excited to buy into a community that works for them, not the elites of Washington D.C.
The boot of the IRS is on the necks of middle America, and has been for far too long. The tax code is an absolute mess and our founders are spinning in their graves. We revolted from England for less, and yet we allow our elected officials to allocate tax created funds to nonsense with lesser priority than collective goods like infrastructure. We must demand transparency in government spending, and a more clear explanation of how mandatory and discretionary spending of tax dollars for whichever project is at hand. It shouldn't be a partisan call to action to say that we need to revisit how the IRS has conducted its business and explore other ways to manage the nation's funds. A budget we all contribute to, used for the right things, would be extremely welcome - as would an honest conversation between the two parties as to how the IRS, if we keep it, can better serve the nation.
Tune in on August 17th for my discussion with fellow Officer Candidate School graduates as we reminisce about our time down in Alabama. I'm convinced this will be one of many discussions in this lane!
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