On this day in 1789, the United States Department of the Treasury was formed. It’s the agency that prints money. But even more important, the IRS is part of Treasury. I’m constantly amazed at the conservative anger at the IRS. Unless you simply don’t believe we should have a government, we need a tax collector. This goes along with something that I publish later today about conservatives really not thinking things through. It’s kind of like starry-eyed liberals thinking we could have no military and everything would be just fine. (I believe we have a military that 5-10 times the size of what we need, but I still think we need one.)
Even more ridiculous is the common belief that we could get rid of the IRS if we instituted a “flat tax.” To begin with, a flat tax is meaningless. Looking up how much in taxes you owe after doing your taxes is the easiest part of it. The hard part is dealing with all the deductions and such. And that is the stuff that is in there because of the rich. I have a great idea for simplifying the tax code: let’s make all deductions standard — no itemization. How about that rich people?! Would you go along with that? Because I’ll tell you something: that would make filing your taxes easy. It would also make paying them harder, but if the issue is not money but convenience, the rich ought to be all over my proposal. But they aren’t.
The point of the flat tax is the point of all so called tax reform: to shift the burden of taxes from the rich to the poor. But regardless of what you do, there still needs to be a tax collector. And this has been true for thousands of years! People don’t pay taxes voluntarily and they never have. So let’s just cut the nonsense. The IRS isn’t evil — in fact, by the historic standards of tax collectors, it’s quite reasonable. In fact, dealing with the IRS is a breeze compared to dealing with the California Department of Revenue. But if people have a better idea, I’d love to hear it. Because here’s a secret: none of us like paying our taxes. But the smarter people understand that living in a civilized society requires paying taxes.
Happy birthday Treasure Department!