|Sage Grass & Cedars|
|Privatize the IRS|
by Darrell Thompson
Recently I heard a commentary on the radio about how the United States is not keeping up with the pace of other highly progressive nations in efficiency of government-run agencies. The specific cases mentioned were some European countries that had let private organizations operate their air traffic controls and even the postal system. The results were that these private organizations did a better job at a more efficient cost. While several agencies came to mind that might be better run by private companies, I have recently begun to wonder if the IRS might be a good place for the United States to try this.
I’m sure that there would be some benefits, as well as problems, when a government agency is privatized. One advantage that I see is that a private agency can better utilize volunteers. In the problem of illegal immigration in Texas, a private group consisting of volunteers is helping out. With volunteers, you can forget about such expenses as salary, vacation, retirement, health care, company furnished vehicles and GAS. I might even be willing to do some volunteer work for the IRS myself.
My first out of the ordinary incident with the IRS was a pleasant experience. That was the first time my wife, Bev, and I filed income tax returns after we got married. We had got all of our stuff together and carried it to the income tax preparer. We mailed it off and to our surprise, our refund check was about a hundred dollars more than we had expected. There was an explanation that the IRS had recalculated our return a simpler way and therefore we were due a larger refund than expected. Bev and I agreed that we probably should change tax preparers before filing in the coming year.
This year it seemed that lightning had struck the same place again. Bev called me about ten days after we filed our return and told me that the direct deposit into our bank account was a few hundred dollars more than expected. She read some legal explanation that made no sense to me about what happened. All that I could think of was that it had happened several years ago and had happened again. I gave little thought to the matter except that we probably should change tax preparers again.
Three weeks later Bev and I each get personal letters from the IRS with a legal explanation that again made no sense saying that there had been a mistake. As you probably guessed, they wanted their money back. If there was a real mistake, and it evidently was one, I have no problem giving their money back. What kind of burned me up was the fact that they took the figure that they had refunded too much and had rounded it up to the next highest dollar. Also, we were informed that we owed interest on their mistake!
I don’t call myself a discontent in my attitude toward our government, but I have thought many times that there are two standards of what is right; one for private citizens and one for the government. That is a problem especially when they don’t run parallel. Bev works at a bank and I understand that mistakes can happen; on rare occasions they even happen at the Co-op. I can imagine how well it would go over if the bank accidentally deposited too much money into a customer’s account and then went back and charged them interest for the bank’s mistake. Read my lips, "it ain’t gonna happen." The bank would be much obliged to get their money back and the customer would walk away with a free cap, tee-shirt or coffee mug for their trouble.
I have heard how Uncle Sam gets ripped off by being charged outrageous prices for hammers, commode seats, screws and you name it. I guess they think that because they get charged $100 on a $9.95 hammer that the $2.50 interest that I was charged might go unnoticed. I didn’t really begrudge them the $2.50; it is just the principle of the thing.
Who knows if the business of the IRS will ever be turned over to a private company? And if it is, will the business be handled any better. I doubt if I would sleep as well as I do now, knowing that some company from the United Arab Emirates was now running the IRS.
We’re still waiting on our IRS tee-shirts.
Darrell Thompson is the Moulton store manager of Lawrence County Exchange.