Grandma P and I decided to travel the United States for 33 days. We covered 6,700 miles, 19 states, 3 National Parks, and five grandkids. Whew! I now know that I have no compunction to become an over-the-road trucker. Kudos to the men and women that can do that job day in and day out.
One thing becomes very obvious as you travel the US. It is big, and it is beautiful. We were in mountains, deserts, plains and northern forests. We saw nearly every type of terrain and weather that exists in the lower 48 states. Fly if you must, but the only way to truly see the magnificence of our country is to see it in a motor vehicle.
I conservatively figured that during our little trek, we spent close to 150 hours in the car. Conversation can become a little stale after the first three or four thousand miles, so we did have the radio on part of the time. During one program, someone was talking about the size of the IRS and how many employees work for the IRS. They made a claim that the IRS was larger than six other federal government agencies combined! Without my trusty computer on the front seat next to me, I could not prove or disapprove that statement. And because I was driving, I had no way of writing down the list of six agencies that were mentioned on the program. It did arouse my interest in researching this claim, however.
The Internal Revenue Service is the revenue service of the United States federal government. The agency is a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, and it is under the immediate direction of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The IRS is responsible for collecting taxes and for the interpretation and enforcement of the Internal Revenue Code.
The Internal Revenue Service was formed on July 1, 1862. Not surprisingly, it was formed to obtain money to finance the Civil War. The federal income tax rate at the time the agency was established was 3%! (Wouldn’t that be great today?!)
In 2010, the IRS employed approximately 106,000 employees. Its operating budget was approximately twelve billion dollars. In 2010, the IRS collected over $2.4 trillion dollars from approximately 234 million tax returns. If my math is correct, the annual budget divided by the number of employees represents a cost per employee of about $113,200.
So why write about the IRS ‘Army’?
Firstly, if you want a real challenge, try finding out exactly how many people work for the federal government by agency. Secondly, if you want to get more attention than you likely want, try to find out how many people work for the NSA or CIA!
What I did discover was that in 2010, the following agencies had the following employees in the Department of Homeland Security:
U.S. Coast Guard 8,181
U.S. Secret Service 6,828
Bureau of Customs and Border Protection 58,002
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) 7,643
Transportation Security Agency (TSA) 50,227
All Other 38,195
It is obvious that the total number of people working for Homeland Security and its agencies is, indeed, larger than the number of IRS employees. But it is also obvious that the two largest Homeland Security agencies, TSA and Customs and Border Protection are about the same size together as the number of IRS employees.
We have established that the IRS has a big boatload of employees. These people are hired to be the forthright collectors of all monies rightfully owed to the federal government. They are tasked to “root out” all tax dodgers, and bring them to justice. They are to “assist” the unknowledgable tax payer with their fiscal responsibilities! They are to be non-political in the pursuit of their sworn duties. They wear white cowboy hats, carry silver badges, and ride white horses!
We have recently learned that they are not as non-political as we assumed. As a matter of fact, they got darn right political!
Beginning in March, 2010, the IRS more closely scrutinized certain organizations applying for tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code by focusing on groups with certain words in their names. In May, 2010, some employees of the “Determination Unit” of the Cincinnati office of the IRS, which is tasked with reviewing applications pertaining to tax-exempt status, began developing a spreadsheet that became known as the “Be on the Look Out” list.
The list, first distributed in August 2010, suggested intensive scrutiny of applicants with names related to the Tea Party movement and other conservative causes. Eventually, IRS employees in at least Cincinnati, Ohio, El Monte, California, Laguna Niguel, California, and Washington, D.C. administered closer scrutiny to applications from organizations that:
* referenced words such as ‘Tea Party,’ ‘Patriots,’ ‘Israel,’ ‘progressive’, or ‘occupy’ in their case file
* outlined issues in the application that included government spending, government debt, or taxes
* involved advocation or lobbying to “make America a better place to live”
* had statements in the case file that criticize how the country is being run.
* advocated education about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights
* were focused on challenging the Affordable Care Act – known by many as Obamacare
* questioned the integrity of federal elections
If this list of targeted items did not sink in or get your dander up just a little, I suggest you read the list again! The guys with the white hats and badges used their authority to target anyone or any organization that advocated the above itemized list. They became political hacks. Are you perceiving that our liberty of “freedom of speech” is slowly being taken away?
What resulted from this? From April 2010 to April 2012, the IRS essentially placed on hold the processing of applications for tax-exemption status received from organizations with “Tea Party” or “Patriots” in their names. While apparently none of these organizations’ applications were denied during this period, only four were approved. During the same general period, the agency approved applications from several dozen, presumably liberal-leaning organizations whose names included terms such as ‘progressive,’ ‘progress.’ ‘liberal,’ or ‘equality’.
Since this has transpired, there have been numerous calls for audits and investigations by various levels of government. The usual “political speak” is being used extensively. The POTUS has said, in a speech of May 13 of this year. that the charges are “outrageous” if true, and that anyone found to be responsible for such actions should be held accountable.
Here is what I think is outrageous:
1. The IRS has targeted organizations advocating education about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
2. If you opposed Obamacare, you were targeted.
3. You were targeted if you criticized how the country was being run.
4. If you questioned the integrity of federal elections, you were targeted.
5. And here is the biggest trigger for my outrage: Not one of these people within the IRS has been terminated because of this targeting program. So much for being held accountable!
Additionally, during a recent Congressional investigative meeting, top people within the IRS were pleading the 5th Amendment to charges of targeting; and indiscriminate and excessive abuse of taxpayer monies!
Remember—this is the same group that is supposed to administer Obamacare. No doubt, they will lobby for more people and more money! I will predict that if they administer Obamacare, they will employ more people than the current 169,000 in the Department of Homeland Security within 5 years.
How do we correct this mess? What would make common sense?
Firstly, there should be some very public terminations of the responsible parties. Start in the Washington, D.C. offices of the IRS, and work your way down to the regional and district managers that practiced this policy. I assume that there would be at least one hundred to five hundred people terminated. The underlings would see firsthand that no political hanky-panky will be tolerated.
Secondly, install new leadership from outside the current agency.
Thirdly, institute a flat tax. Simplify the tax codes. With a flat tax, we can eliminate 2/3 of these IRS employees. If we allocated 50 IRS employees to each congressional district, that would result in less than 25,000 employees. Fewer employs means less tax money wasted.
Lastly, overturn Obamacare. This program has been an albatross around our country’s neck for too long. As the facts become evident about this program, it appears costly, unwieldly, and not very well structured. We do not need to increase the size of the IRS ‘Army’ to manage this program!
These are my suggestions. Take them or leave them. You may not agree with my solutions to the downfalls of the overgrown, selectively scrutinous IRS, but I suspect you agree this shrub needs to be trimmed.
Will anyone lose their jobs in the IRS? Time will tell. What is more certain is that I could be targeted by the IRS for criticizing how the country is being run by exercising my rights to freedom of speech.