Focus Point - A Broken IRSCommentary by Pete du Pont
April 27, 2001
I'm Pete du Pont with the National Center for Policy Analysis. Gosh, it pains me to say it, but these are tough times at the IRS, according to Larry Levitan, head of the service's oversight board. He actually used the word "broken" to describe the service. Seems it can't manage adequate enforcement, leading people to assume they can cheat. Since 1992 the agency's staff has been cut, and audits are way down.
The IRS wants more money to do a better job. Of course, we could have a rousing argument on just what a better job is.
Part of the problem was summed up in a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel cartoon showing a guy reading from the tax form, "ignore line 13a if line 12b is greater than the specific gravity of Jupiter ..."
But the IRS can only enforce the tax code as received, and the code is undecipherable to all earthlings. So you have an understaffed, despised agency enforcing complex rules they often don't understand themselves. Simplify the rules and cut the tax rates, and everybody will be happier.
Those are my ideas, and at the NCPA we know ideas can change the world. I'm Pete du Pont, and I'll see you next time.