Friday, May 24, 2013

Internal Revenue Service: Kill It or Save It?

Mike Corthell


1862 to 2013

''Please detail the content of the members of your organization’s prayers.'' asked an IRS agent when the Coalition for Life of Iowa applied for tax exempt status. Sound outrageous? How about unconstitutional? This and many more equally egregious and unnecessary questions were asked by the eager bureaucrat.

The IRS is part of the Department of the Treasury, and is under the direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. In 1862, during the Civil War, President Lincoln with the assent of Congress created the office of Commissioner of Internal Revenue and enacted a temporary income tax to pay expenses incurred during the war. The position of Commissioner still exists today as the head of the Internal Revenue Service.

In light of the current scandal involving the agency, many politicians and citizens from both parties are calling for 'killing the IRS'. Others just want it in pared down. What will happen, of course, remains to be seen. But the scandal is growing, with NBC –  no less –  reporting that the IRS deliberately chose not to reveal that it had wrongly targeted conservative groups until after the 2012 presidential election. The IRS affair may, therefor, end the Obama presidency – at the very least it will probably limit the president's effectiveness for the remainder of his term. As of this writing, we are only seeing the tip of this putrid, despicable iceberg.

As a tax collector, the IRS has the dubious reputation of most tax collectors – cold, uncaring, even evil. But is it all the agency's fault? Congress created the IRS, and Congress passed all the laws that generated the massive, 74,000 page (2013) tax code. The power vested in the agency has made it corrupt. The danger of this most recent scandal is that this collection agency has been used as a political tool to harass organizations that had been labeled enemies, ideologically speaking, of the Obama administration.

The Internal Revenue Service is an unwieldy, monstrous agency. In all deference to President Obama, he doesn't have to ability to correct the abuses that have come to light. I don't believe any president can – short of abolishing the IRS.

I say scrap it and start over. The solution is simple; I propose that Congress phase out the IRS over a period of three fiscal years and at the same time phase in a national, retail sales tax. A national sales tax that treats every tax payer equally and allows businesses to grow and thrive. This plan will also generate more tax revenue than the current tax code. The new Treasury Department agency created to monitor the national sales tax will be microscopic compared to the present, out-of-control IRS that is too large, too powerful, too intrusive and too abusive.


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