Several years before the birth of the Tea Party movement, I caught one of the local town workers stuffing my mailbox full of anti-income tax materials that included scores of inaccurate legal references and precedents where the courts agreed with a plaintiff who refused to pay taxes.
"Tony," the pre-Tea Partier in question, a man obviously untouched by higher education and unaware of just what I did for a living, attempted to convince me that we didn't have to pay taxes if we didn't want to and could fight via the legal system.
Last time I checked he was in tax arrears for several thousand dollars and faced the prospect of free lodging in a federally funded gated community.
Apparently I also violated a 1998 law when I referred to him as an "illegal tax protester."
Good thing I was a private citizen, because had I worked for the Internal Revenue Service I would have drawn the ire of the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Seems last week TIGTA issued a report that unearthed the stunning statistic that in some 3.6 million records and cases there were 38 (yes THIRTY EIGHT) instances in which 34 employees lobbed such derogatory terms toward taxpayers such as "tax protester," "constitutionally challenged," or other similar mean-spirited designations.
For those like me who had no clue, Congress enacted Section 3707 of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 to prohibit the Service from labeling taxpayers as "illegal tax protesters" or with any similar charged designations.
Apparently the legislation stemmed from fear that use of "illegal tax protester" or other similar designations may stigmatize taxpayers (especially those who are kind of murky on the guidelines of compliance) and may cause employee bias in future contacts with these same taxpayers.
TIGTA, whose existence at times seems predicated on the volume of critical reports it issues on the IRS, acknowledged that the IRS has not reintroduced past Illegal Tax Protester codes or similar designations on taxpayer accounts. It didn't even make any recommendations to the IRS, politically correct or otherwise.
Nor did the IRS even bother to respond.
We also can breathe easier knowing that the Internal Revenue Manual no longer contains any references to "Illegal Tax Protesters."
And if this is emblematic of our tax dollars at work, I have a feeling there will be a lot more people like Tony filling my mailbox.
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