Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Protection Racket

 
Gates of Vienna owes the IRS money. We just found out a few weeks ago: $674, and tomorrow is the deadline. So today I will get out the checkbook and pay up.

We have a tax accountant who does our returns, and he actually got us a refund for this one; now we owe them money. Whoops. Yes, yes, I know; I will have a little talk with him about this one. But it won’t do any good; he says that when the IRS claims you owe them money, it is best just to write the check.

That’s definitely true for $100 or $400, and now I know it’s true for $674. It might even be true for $1000 or $2000; I’ll let you know if, heaven forfend, I ever get dunned for those amounts. But at some point it would become cost-effective to hire the tax lawyer and go through the trouble to fight the bastards. Days off work, trips to the IRS office, signing endless paperwork, showing up in court — maybe $10,000…? $20,000? Readers are invited to offer their own personal opinions on this one.

All I know is that it’s quite a game the IRS has going. Nice little life ya got here — wouldn’t want anything to, like, happen to it, ya know? Pause. Sound of pen scratching on check paper. Tanks. See yez next year!

The IRS has the power to ruin your life. That’s what has made me a libertarian — nobody should have the power to ruin my life without my consent. I didn’t elect those guys in the Treasury building, and my elected representatives have long since lost the masculine wherewithal to rein in those f***ers in D.C. They can extract money from us without due process, guilty until proven innocent, till death do us part, and there’s not a damned thing we can do about it.

If we weren’t so used to it, so numbed by paying up year after year, we would be jumping up and down with outrage, steam coming out of our ears. We would be having coronaries from our fits of rage while writing the check. We would be…

Excuse me — there’s someone knocking at the door…

No, Mr. Field Agent! I didn’t really mean it! I’m sorry! Please… What are you doing with that axe handle?

AAAAIIIIEEEEE!!!

34 comments:

Redneck Texan said...

Lets dress up like Indians and loot the treasury to get our money back.

200 years of succumbing to legislation we dont agree with has left its mark on our willingness to resist the abuses of government power. If Thomas Jefferson were alive today he would be in prison.

Somewhere along the path in this experiment in Democracy we have allowed our liberty to be compromised. Revolution requires abandoning the recliner for too long.

I guess it could be worse....we could still be in Europe.

Baron Bodissey said...

Too true, Redneck. If we were European the government would be taking 70% or 80% of our money, rather than 45%. And we'd be saying, "Yes sir, thank you sir, please do it again sir. I'm bending over; here's the Vaseline, sir..."

bordergal said...

A good reason to support the flat tax.....who needs a tax code that only a fully trained lawyer can understand?

Bill said...

I consider it obscene that I pay in taxes every year more than I used to live on, just because I have become relatively successful.

'Be punished for success, but continue to succeed because it is in your nature to succeed.' [OK, I got that line from Ayn Rand, "Atlas Shrugged". However, it is certainly true.]

As long as someone can have their vote bought by being told they have a right to something they didn't earn, it will never change. Our politicians rise and fall on the amount of money they bring back to their districts. P.J. O'Rourke had it right in "Parliament of Whores".

And the man that could stop some of it with a veto, hasn't the balls to do it, or else thinks he needs to buy votes for his programs with pork.

Dymphna said...

Honestly. Your sense of drama will get the best of you. They don't use axe handles. They have these little tasers...

The worst thing that ever happened to the American people was the scheme for "withholding" our taxes. It allowed the gummint to boil us like frogs.

And yes, it could be worse: we could be in Europe. But we're fast getting there on our own steam...or the steam from the frog pot, anyway.

Is it me, or does anyone else feel warm?

El Jefe Maximo said...

I know less than I should about government finance. I hope the flat tax is or would be the panacea its backers think. I do know that running an empire is expensive, quite aside from the ruinous expenses of the welfare state we have.

I disapprove of the welfare state, but the world being what it is, I see no alternative to the Empire. Wish I did. Others may disagree, but unless we find that alternative, or some other way of raising the funds necessary to run it, I see no alternative to the IRS.

Dymphna said...

I'm with you, Chief. I don't want to not pay taxes, I just want something that makes sense.

A tax based on consumption is fair, it has clarity, and it's moral.

The current system is a morass and good for no one, not even those who think they benefit.

But consider the unintended consequences: whole rafts of lawyers would be taking jobs away from the illegal immigrants. Many accountants would be holding up "Will Work for Food" signs...

Ah, dreams...

Baron Bodissey said...

Jefe, the flat tax would probably work, but the rate would have to be quite high. It would also put a lot of accountants and lawyers out of work.

With the flat tax, it would be much less likely that I would pay the incorrect amount, or be hit with a surprise bill from the IRS that I didn't understand.

Compliance would also be higher -- when a tax regime is simpler, evasion is more difficult, and the system seems fairer.

The rate would probably be 20% or so, on all income after a fixed (large) exemption per family member.

But not in our lifetimes.

Redneck Texan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Redneck Texan said...

I have trouble with the whole concept of one American paying a cent more for the same government and voting rights that another has.

Why is it based on income period? How bout just a flat yearly fee to live in America? Same fee for all Americans.

Its not fair that some bum living under a bridge has just as much input in the direction of our nation as someone who feeds the kitty with thousands of dollars a year. Why should he have as much input into how my money is spent as I do?

That just seems inherently unfair to me. What if everthing else in our society had its costs based on what you earned. $2 a gallon milk for the losers and $50 a gallon milk if you can afford it.

Seems to me that the more you pay to float a government that gives benefits to illegal immigrants the more your vote should be weighted.

Baron Bodissey said...

Mr. Texan -- the problem with your idea is that, in order to run the government at its accustomed level of opulent profligacy, there would be many people who simply do not earn enough money to pay their annual levy, if everyone were levied equally. It takes "rich" people like you 'n' me to fill the coffers down on 14th Street.

The flat tax is "fair" in the sense that everyone pays the same percent. But it's still outrageous.

And the outrageous thing is how much money the government spends. If the federal government were limited to defending the country, policing the borders (ha!), running the interstate highway system, and managing the currency, we'd all be better off. No more nagging nannies telling us what to eat or smoke and where we can put our johnsons.

Think of all the money we'd save!

Dymphna said...

Redneck:

Fortune doesn't smile on all of us equally. Thus, I think a tax based on what you *spend* is the most equitable. The guy under the bridge buys his cigarettes and pays a tax (does he ever!). The environmentalist fills up her Learjet with aviation fuel and pays her share....

All a y'all ought to read Neal Boortz' ideas on this. It's really been carefully thought out.

Baron Bodissey said...

The income tax is a "production tax", the opposite of sales tax or VAT. But both of them are leeching the lifeblood out of the economy; one leech attaches to an atery, and the other to a vein.

The problem isn't where the blood is being let, it's the number of pints being drained. The patient is showing a ghastly pallor at this point...

Jude the Obscure said...

Little IRS Lib reading your blog decided to audit you?

Baron Bodissey said...

Maybe there's a "blogging surtax" I overlooked on my 1040.

El Jefe Maximo said...

I forsee that we are all going to be sweating a lot more round tax time as the years go by. I don't think the "war" everyone says we're in has even begun yet, and I think it's going to take prodigious amounts of money to fight it, specially when, as they will, other big powers become involved, either openly or behind the scenes, if they're not already.

I've always been a republican (and I don't mean the party), even if of somewhat of a monarchist, old right bent, and I dislike the intrusive bureaucratic monster we've built ourselves intensely. But does that make it less necessary ? Romans probably didn't like losing their republic either, but I'd argue events, plus the stupidity of the rulers and ruled, made Caesar necessary and inevitable. Along with Caesar comes Caesar's taxes.

I live in a large city, and I have a school age child. Honestly, what I think is coming down the pike makes me wanna go live in the middle of nowhere, grow my own crops, and become good friends with an old Lee-Enfield.

BTW Dymphna, I'm a lawyer, but re your "will work for food" comment, I'd agree, for several reasons, that anything that takes the bar down a peg or five would be no bad thing.

Dymphna said...

Like the old doctors, I miss the old lawyers. We still have a few in these parts. One where you can just go get your will made without taking out a mortgage.

The litigiousness of our culture has contaminated a once-fine profession. Now there are far too many of them in Congress and walking about freely. Like John Edwards.

It's not just the private practice guys, either. Some of those Justice Dept guys are scary.

I read recently that practicing attorneys have the highest rate of dissatisfaction in their work. Don't know if it's true or not, but I've sat in court enough to know that it looks very, very boring. The only thing with a higher tedium level is being a judge.

IMHO.

As for moving out, do so soon, before the country gets crowded, too! We've been here 25 years and it's beginning to fill up a bit as the boomers start to fade...

Baron Bodissey said...

Jefe -- do you have any info on what percentage of his income the average Roman citizen paid in taxes, under the Empire? Just curious; I wonder if it took proportionately as much to build the aqueducts and roads and arm the legions.

I'll bet the Romans didn't lavish as much on "social services" as we do.

Redneck Texan said...

Mr. Texan -- the problem with your idea is that, in order to run the government at its accustomed level of opulent profligacy, there would be many people who simply do not earn enough money to pay their annual levy, if everyone were levied equally.

You must be missing the finer points of my plan.....no pay no vote....if you dont like it go to Canada. :-)

But seriously, I do like a flat tax plan. Its just too simple to ever be properly worded into legislation.

El Jefe Maximo said...

Oh certainly you're right, Baron, about the Romans and the lack of "social" spending like we've got.

As for costs of the legions, the great Marcus Licinius Crassus, banker, speculator, contemporary and friend of Caesar's, (but a bad general) supposedly said that no man could count himself rich who could not support an army on his income. That's RICH.

One of the reasons the "republicans" in the civil war so feared Caesar (and caused them to provoke the Civil War) was the proceeds of his wars in Gaul (slaves, grain, forfeited lands), enabled him to pay his legions and turn a tidy profit on the Gallic War without reference to the Roman government.

On your more global tax question, I'll look into the taxation issue and get back to you if I have something like that. Recall also that the Roman situation was different from ours, in that since 90 percent of the population lived in abject poverty anyway (like most people through most of history) to most folks it was six of one/half dozen of the other how they were taxed, administered or governed. But for the tiny "middle" classes, and for the rulers, the increasing tax burden, and the cost of mal-administration in the late Republic (the period I'm interested in) were a real tragedy, as was the increased use of slave labor, which pauperized the Italian artisan class.

Baron Bodissey said...

And you might want to investigate whether people who couldn't pay their taxes were indentured or sold into slavery by the state -- that wouldn't surprise me at all. The Romans must have had an effective way of dealing with tax evasion -- they showed administrative genius in so many fields.

El Jefe Maximo said...

My last post on the Romans, Baron, and then I'll shut up. Your suspicious re the system for collecting taxes are well founded.

The Roman "tax farming" system of the late republic was surely one of the more pernicious taxation systems ever devised. The Senate would give over whole provinces to tax farming syndicates or individuals, setting the tax rate, and allowing the tax farmers to collect it in whatever manner desired. A more abusive use of "private enterprise" could not be invented.

Consequently, the tax farmers, who could call on the law and the soldiers would squeeze the local inhabitants, often driving them to the wall, and woe betide the citizens, socii, or whoever who could not afford to buy some friends at Rome.

The tax farming system probably contibuted more than any other factor to wrecking the late republic: it certainly produced its share of wars and revolts. This is one reason Caesar Dictator, and the early Empire after him, moved towards a much more bureaucratic, but regular system that worked for a little while.

Baron Bodissey said...

Those were, presumably, the same "tax collectors" or "publicans" so loathed in Christ's time.

PD111 said...

They can extract money from us without due process, guilty until proven innocent, till death do us part.

What do you mean "till death do us part?.

Don't you have death duties in the US?

Baron Bodissey said...

Maybe I should have said, "till death do part us from the last of our money."

Always On Watch said...

As long as you're not accused of tax fraud, you're not seeing the worst that IRS can do.

Once IRS says you owe, you'll never get out of paying something, but you might be able to dispute a portion of that amount. A field agent will never go back to the office without a check in his hand.

bigdaddybean said...

This post really caught my eye. My ex father-in-law is a retired IRS agent. To this day he still uses his "IRS commission" as personal identification. I was with him once when he was pulled over for speeding. When the cop saw the IRS commission he said sorry Mr. Blah. Please slow it down and have a nice day sir.

Also once I had to pay a penalty "when the IRS owed me a refund". I did not file on time and the "penalty and interest" was more than the refund.

The upshot was they owed me $248 but after the penalty and interest I owed them $122. They were nice and cut me a deal of $100 payment.

Baron Bodissey said...

Too bad he was your ex-father-in-law. If you could have still claimed the relationship, you might have gotten off entirely!

I used to have a landlady many years ago who was retired from the highest levels of the IRS. She gave me some tips about taxes etc which I have followed ever since.

Hanba'al said...

We should send our most fearful force to Iraq and Afghanistan, the IRS instead of the Marine and the Army. Everybody would be happy.

Xiaoding said...

The flat tax is an abomination, no inprovement at all. A sales tax is much better. Neil Boortz has the right idea.

I don't think anything will change, except for the worse, until people are willing to kill for thier freedom. Don't see that happening soon.

Xiaoding

Pofarmer said...

If you think the IRS is bad. Get crossways with a credit agency, or one of these new company owned Finance wings some companies have. The one I am most "familiar" with is John Deere Credit. It's worse than bad. It doesn't matter if you owe the money or not(I didn't) just that some scrap of paper claims you did. And they have REAMS of lawyers. I HATE lawyers, maybe more than IRS agents. Lawyers know the law, and they know what they can get away with, and they ain't always the same thing!!!

Did I mention I hate lawyers? And John Deere credit?

gandalf said...

Hey try the UK for tax, we are taxed from birth to death in this country, our pensions are taxed, our savings are taxed, our kids inheritance is taxed, we are even taxed when we die then thieir is all of the following:-

Road tax, pertol tax value added tax, stamp duty,income tax, national insurance(a tax).

England at one time even had a daylight tax this is why you see very small windows in old cottages and buildings in the UK.

On another note I am in the pricess of trying to evaluate the Islamic personality, this is a proper study and would appreciate any constructive input .

I have posted the initial statement(premis) on
http://uppompeii.blogspot.com/

All contributions welcome and of coures acknowledgements will be made in the study.

thank you

Baron Bodissey said...

Gandlaf -- plus, you have to pay for the privilege of having a TV and watching the glorious BBC!

I remember when I lived in England, back in the '60s, the little TV-detector vans that cruised around the housing estates, looking for TV tax scofflaws.

gandalf said...

thank you baron you add another dimension to the concept

thank you again