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Don't like the tax law? Don't shoot the IRS

Threats up against employees of agency, which merely enforces the laws that Congress makes.

By Jeff Schnepper Mar 10, 2010 1:19PM

IRS employees certainly have been in the crosshairs of crazies recently.


In 2009 there were more than 1,000 threats made against IRS workers. That’s up more than 10% over the roughly 900 threats received over the previous few years.


IRS offices in states including Nevada, Colorado and California have been targeted with arson and mortar attacks, shotgun blasts and a fertilizer bomb.


Now I know that the IRS can boil your patience. Sometimes I wonder who had the warped sense of humor to include the word “Service” in its name.


But, never forget that the IRS is a vast bureaucracy of individuals, each trying to do his or her best in a situation that can be best described as impossible.

The IRS doesn’t make the rules -- Congress does.


The IRS just tries to enforce them.


The convolution and complexity is the result of Congressional failure to simplify -- and frankly, the pork-barrel trade-offs of politics.


But, the face of this thief in your pocket is the IRS employee sitting across the desk from you.

Recently, 53-year-old Andrew Joseph Stack crashed his plane into an IRS office, killing an IRS employee and injuring 13 others. In his suicide note, he blamed an obscure provision in the Tax Code for ruing his life.


Stack had three decades of problems with the IRS but it was Section 1706 that he focused upon. Stack was a computer engineer. In the Tax Reform Act of 1986, Congress passed Section 1706, which effectively reclassified high-tech programmers, engineers and analysts from self-employed consultants to employees. Stack’s dreams of starting and owning his own high-tech consulting company were shattered.


But, it wasn’t the IRS that created Section 1706. It clearly wasn’t the employee whose life was shut down or the 13 others who were hospitalized.


If you’re angry and want to hurt someone -- use your ballot rather than your bullet.


I used to teach karate. In my office I have a heavy bag with “IRS” taped across it. Every IRS representative who has been in my office has smiled and appreciated my offering my clients an alternative way to physically vent their frustrations.


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