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1040 Therapy

Feb 112014
 
 By , February 11, 2014

It’s “10-4 good buddy” for 1040 enforcers

It’s been a tough few months recently for the Internal Revenue Service.

I get it.  It can’t be easy working for this particular government organization, albeit one that does serve a certain function at making possible the general lifestyles that many American citizens have become accustomed to living.  We like our freeways, educational opportunities, protection and much more.

1040 Taxes IRSBut even if one has an academic understanding of the use of collected taxes, it doesn’t make it any easier to watch money float out of our hands for taxes with little or no control; and, when a human being is at the other end of this discomfort, it just makes people angry.

Can you imagine going to work every day to a job that you know would make your neighbors burn effigies in your front yard if they really knew what you meant when you told them you “have a government job”?

The ire towards IRS staff may not approach the same level of malice people feel towards repo workers, assistant principals, and the dentist; but the anger and mistrust is always simmering just below the surface.   It probably doesn’t help that, in addition to the standard I-9 verification form that all IRS workers must sign upon their hire, a separate “I Give My Soul To the Devil and Promise to Do His Bidding” standard contract must also be signed.

Do people send happy greeting cards to their friendly neighborhood IRS agent, thanking them for doing such an excellent job and to ‘keep up the good work’?  I think not.

I would imagine that the overall hit to IRS employee’s collective morale every April 15 must be immense.  In fact, an inside source has informed me that all IRS offices across the country are instructed to cover restroom mirrors with black muslin during the month of April because the employees can’t bear to ‘look at themselves in the mirror.’  This does not include the sadistic agents who make several restroom visits per day to lift the corner of the shrouds to smile at themselves.  Self-affirmation?  Psychosis?

After all, can it be easy to collect 15% – 50% of another human being’s income, selectively target certain political or religious groups of people for monthly audits, and be put in charge of enforcing an unpopular healthcare law?

In fact, I imagine that it can all be quite morale busting.

But there’s hope.  John Koskinen, the new IRS commissioner knows just what therapy will dry the tear and lift the head that hangs low.  He will boost the morale of embattled IRS employees by doing what the private sector is having trouble doing during these uncertain economic times; which is, giving out money.

This is true genius.  The concept of throwing money at employees whose sole job is to collect a portion of the hard-won earnings of Mr. and Ms. American is brilliant.  In my mind’s eye, I can see the IRS agents kneeling down by their cubicles and supplicating the statue of a gold coin they all keep on their desks for reasons of worship, expressing their deep and abiding gratitude they feel that they should be worthy of such benevolence when so many are losing jobs or having their hours and benefits reduced.

So, on the heels of such a magnanimous morale boosting, I want to propose a few other therapeutic strategies that might help these poor, put-upon federal employees:

  • Aloha For Audits:  Employees who audit targets that fall outside of the current Administration’s marching orders will get a taxpayer-financed trip to Maui.
  • Tax-Exempt Charity Roulette:  Every morning, IRS satellite offices allow their ‘Employee-of-the-Week’ to spin the big wheel in their supervisor’s office to see which non-profit charity will be targeted for harassment that week.  (Ah…I can feel the stress just flowing off of me with this one.)
  • Fifth Amendment Friday:  Based upon the example of Lois Lerner, Fifth Amendment invocation competitions will bring a fun close to the work week before everyone heads home.  The staff is divided into two groups, with the department heads acting as faux members of the Senate Finance Committee.  Each ‘Committee’ member asks potentially embarrassing questions to each team member who are then clocked at how quickly they can invoke their Fifth Amendment rights.  (Ha!  Some of those agents really get tongue-tied with this game.)
  • Pin-the-Tail-On-the-Exemption:  Blindfolded employees take turns throwing red markers at a board covered with possible tax exemptions.  Any exemptions marked with red at the end of the game are automatically denied to 1040 filers leading up to April 15th.

With so many IRS agents feeling so blue, so down, so morose; it’s crucially important that they stay emotionally fit and happy.  Else, their depression could lead to many striking out, utilizing their authority to a level of abuse.

What?  Wait!

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Michael Larson is newly minted Texan. He is a retired teacher, current university librarian, and a future 'great American' author.
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