"We must have the trust of the American taxpayer. Unfortunately, that trust has been broken." - Internal Revenue Service Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel
Trust? Name two people you know who have ever trusted the IRS.
If taxpayers trusted the IRS so much before we discovered they spend an inordinate time harassing conservatives and making dance videos on our dime then why do most taxpayers hire someone else to file their taxes?
Is it because they like forking over $40 or more to someone else for the sheer pleasure of it? Or perhaps they do so out of confusion and fear they can't do it correctly due to the Byzantine instructions and forms. Confusion and fear aren't the building blocks of trust.
Werfel's remarks show just how far out of touch the federal bureaucracy is with the very people they are supposed to be serving.
Politics isn't a winner-take-all game to people out in the provinces. Nor do they speak and write in bureacratese. And while they've been known to post bizarre videos on YouTube, they don't do it while working on someone else's dime.
One can only imagine how complicated the IRS is going to make enforcement of Affordable Healthcare considering the federal tax code is 7,500 pages.
Blame Congress for adopting the basic tax laws, credits and deductions but full credit for making it as complicated as possible goes to the IRS. The IRS' idea of streamlining is knocking two lines off a 10-page form. As far as simplifying the instructions, you could call it that if you consider simplification rewriting the code so an average lawyer can understand it instead of one that has six doctorates in tax law.
A simple, flat tax will probably never happen.
Even so, that doesn't excuse the IRS for creating a process where the return that Apple filed to pay $6 billion in taxes last year was two feet high.
Apple CEO Tim Cook - raked over the coals by Congress for his company complying to tax laws that they imposed - called American tax system "crazy."
Crazy is too nice of a word. Try "criminally insane."
Read the 1040 instructions. The Unabomber in his manifesto did less rambling.
Unlike a police officer who puts his life on the line daily and has to provide evidence that you're guilty, federal enforcement agencies such as the IRS don't have such constitutional nuances to deal with. They operate on the premise you're guilty unless you can prove otherwise. And of course, you can't simply read the tax code to figure out whether you were right or wrong because it is written in such a manner that even judges have a hard time deciphering it.
This is not an agency that ever held trust in high esteem. If they did they wouldn't use fear and confusion as enforcement tools.
It is incorrect to call the train wreck rambling through the IRS a scandal created by the administration. It is a scandal that has thrived and grown under Democrat and Republican leadership alike with lots of help from Congress.
It is a scandal deep-rooted in the culture of big government where dissent and powerless people, who lack connections or wealth are treated with disdain.
With emerging evidence the much vilified Cincinnati office took directions from IRS headquarters it is clear that career bureaucrats with centralized power can't be trusted.
During the past five years of the Great Recession while Americans had stagnant wages, reduced hours, or lost jobs and while businesses slashed expenses, the IRS saw fit to party by spending $50 million on conferences.
If Werfel wants to restore trust, the next time he's before Congress he should tell his bosses they need to junk the tax code and come up with a two-page form and instructions that are no longer than 10 pages.
A clear, simple, and straight-forward tax system is what is needed to cure the ills of the IRS and not a special investigation.
If you want to get an addict off meth you take away the meth. You don't hire a special counselor to see if he's taking meth and then issue a report saying the meth addict needs to get off meth.
They need to be taken off the drug they crave.
The same is true of the IRS.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.