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IRS: The Superagency

October 19, 2010

Peter Pappas highlights a provocative interview from a former IRS commissioner, as reported in WebCPA, Mortimer Caplin said that loading the IRS with responsibilities outside of collecting taxes weakens its ability to do its real job:

"IRS personnel are people with accounting, economic and investigative abilities. The new programs require them to carry out other functions for which they’re not qualified."

For example, he noted, "Even the Earned Income Tax Credit could have been handled by Health and Human Services. What has happened is that there are a tremendous amount of fraud and deficiencies associated with the program. This has produced a great loss of revenue, because the Service has to focus attention on the wrong returns. Rather than looking at high-income returns, with, say, foreign investments, they have to examine the EITC. Their mission has been watered down."

Though I suspect the added powers may be seen as a feature, rather than a bug, by the current power-hungry IRS Commissioner.

Let's go back in time to see Commissioner Caplin running an IRS largely free from non-tax responsibilities:

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Very interesting, but the irs mission statement doesn't say they are supposed to focus on collecting the most money. Compliance issues are important too.

Thank You for sharing the video Joe!

Wow! How much things have changed.

Daniel, I'm glad you enjoyed it. It's a wonderful video just for the window into a lost world. Though I think the IRS still uses some of the equipment shown in the Fresno service center...

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