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HURT: IRS figures find grilling before Congress taxing
You know you are a serious societal pestilence when even politicians can kick you around. Which is why the Senate Finance Committee called Steven Miller, former acting IRS commissioner, to testify about the agency's scheme targeting conservatives for tax punishment.
Right away, Mr. Miller got down to the business of reminding everyone why we all hate the IRS so much.
"Unfortunately, given time considerations," he began, "the IRS was unable to prepare written testimony."
Given time considerations? Unable to prepare? Are you kidding us?
Have you ever heard of April 15? Can you imagine if we called up the IRS and said, "Given time considerations, we were unable to prepare our tax filings today."
Under the threat of a gun and promise of jail time, we file our taxes precisely on time every year. Without fail. Without excuse. Without complaint. Everyone has heard the nightmares of ruinous IRS penalties aimed at destroying lives, families and livelihoods for missing those deadlines.
But given the "time constraints," you weren't able to prepare? Tell that to the thousands of small business owners who have gone bankrupt because they couldn't make payments on time. Or failed to file proper tax returns.
Mr. Miller has hooded eyes with a thick carpet of hair creeping down his forehead like a bed of meatballs sliding off a mound of spaghetti. He became unhinged when Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah Republican, accused him of "lying by omission" for not telling the senator about the scheme when he first asked about it.
"I did not lie," Meatball spat at Mr. Hatch. "I did not lie."
How would that go over with the IRS? "I did not lie. I just didn't include that particular part of income in my filing. But I didn't ever say specifically that I didn't earn it. I just didn't tell you about it."
Yeah, hope you look good in an orange jumpsuit, buddy.
Then Meatball tried blaming the scandal on Congress and taxpayers for not giving the agency enough money. Then he blamed it on people inside the agency who were just "trying to be more efficient."
Good luck with that one, too. "The reason I did not pay my taxes is because, well, I didn't have enough money. And I was trying to be more efficient by eliminating this one huge expense called TAXES!"
See you in Sing Sing!
Then came ex-Commissioner Douglas H. Shulman. One look at him and it is no wonder why he got into the tax-collection business. Chiseled nose, gray, pasty face and dead eyes. The kind of guy who is loathed by everyone around him and he knows it. He is used to being spit upon in public. Doesn't even look down at the spittle on his suit anymore. He loves to punish people who make just one little mistake — no matter how innocent.
It is why even Jesus struggled to love the tax collectors.
Committee Chairman Max Baucus inquired why nobody in the agency had been fired over the gross violations.
Meatball and the Snake just sat there, staring. Wordless. Mr. Baucus asked again. Meatball thumbed the edge of his glass of water, staring down at the table like a child avoiding his mother's scolding glare. The room seemed to groan in discomfort.
After a long silence, Mr. Baucus tried again.
"Well, what action did you take?"
Meatball stammered and stuttered a bunch of bureaucratic psychobabble.
They did some training, held some workshops and collated some files, he said in all seriousness. Somebody got "transferred," Meatball said, before correcting himself and saying the person was actually "reassigned."
Oh, said Meatball, and then there was the "oral counseling."
I don't know what that is, but I am pretty sure it is not one of the programs offered to us if we miss an April 15 deadline.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @charleshurt.
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