A short while ago, conservatives got everyone in a lather over the notion that the I.R.S. might be targeting conservative groups. As it turned out, those conservative groups were walking a fine line between what qualified as a nonprofit organization and what were really just shady campaign funding tools, disguised as nonprofits.
Throughout the last campaign, conservatives managed to get everyone worked up over “not raising taxes on the job creators” when it came time for the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy to sunset. Somehow, that manufactured crisis was enough to pressure President Obama into extending those tax cuts – cuts that did absolutely nothing to increase job growth and even less to reduce the national debt.
Conservatives have been successful even in convincing the masses that corporations are taxed too much in America, when the reality is that corporations are paying less in taxes than they ever have in this country in modern history. Even more baffling is why Americans, who are barely getting by from one check to the next, give a damn if some faceless corporation has to pay a lot of tax.
How ingenious for the conservative political machine to divert the focus of the struggling middle class and desperate lower class to absurd issues that have nothing to do with alleviating the terrible economic situation both classes have been delivered into by reckless government over the last 40 years. Wasn’t the Tea Party supposed to represent a movement that reduced government excesses and gave tax relief to the majority of working Americans?
Every day regular Americans, who are barely getting by, face terrible problems caused by the government leaders and corporations trying so hard to convince them their problems are the result of government social programs – the very programs that may be the only thing keeping these individuals afloat. While corporations evade paying tax and shelter money in offshore accounts rather than reinvesting in America to create jobs, Americans go hungry, remain jobless and continue to struggle. While politicians and companies enrich themselves off of the backs of workers, all the while fighting a moderate minimum wage increase or Obamacare and continue to facilitate the transfer of jobs overseas, Americans continue to vote these same politicians back into office and to support the very measures that erode their standard of living.
To make matters worse, as bad as Americans are suffering right now, the I.R.S. and state tax collection agencies are out there every day kicking the working poor even more while they’re down. Who is talking about that? Who is talking about the absurd measures taking place every day across this country to beat money out of people who can barely feed themselves, who are in danger of losing their homes? While the media focuses on some foolish canard about increased taxes or ANY taxation “hurting the rich” and “posing a threat to economic growth” regular Americans are being mercilessly hounded for tax revenue. Much of the hounding is for money they do not even owe, yet they lack the accounting resources to sort out why they are being hunted down. Where is the Tea Party on this matter? Didn’t they name themselves after an event where colonists fed up being at the mercy of an abusive government, a greedy corporation (the East India Company) and unfair taxation, decided to rise up and rebel against it all? Wasn’t this event a component of the larger movement that led up to the American Revolution?
Anyone who has been an actual target of the I.R.S. knows how utterly oppressive they can be for even the tiniest amounts of unpaid tax. You may have worked six jobs one year and forgot to report one. It doesn’t matter if it’s only a couple hundred dollars, the I.R.S. will throw the full force of the U.S. government on you, crushing you with threats of levies, imprisonment or the interception of that upcoming tax refund you desperately need to get caught up. It doesn’t matter if the tax issue was last year or five years ago, the tax collectors don’t let up. Even when you make every effort to sort out the problem, you may end up paying far more in tax and penalties than you even owe just because the various divisions within the I.R.S. do not know what they’re doing.
The state of Illinois is so desperate for money, they’re sending out collection notices for taxes filed over five years ago, even when the taxpayer is owed a refund from the state. When taxpayers finally manage to gather their records and show the Illinois Department of Revenue that they have a refund coming, Illinois slaps them with a $280 fee for “late filing” and keeps their refund. In a state that makes Argentina look as fiscally responsible as Switzerland, Illinois has created quite a lucrative scam. You see, in order for the $280 fee to apply, a taxpayer has to have not responded to a “notice of filing” within 30 days of receiving it. The problem is Illinois doesn’t actually send the “notice of filing” to the taxpayer. The only notice the taxpayer gets is a collection notice from the state, followed immediately by a collection notice from a private agency – with added fees of course. Where does the Tea Party stand on that kind of fraud? They’re more concerned with BP being defrauded on its oil spill cleanup fund (the fund they get to take a tax deduction for by the way) or patients defrauding Medicare. Where is the outcry against the government defrauding taxpayers or corporations defrauding the government and the taxpayers?
Then, as if the unrelenting hunt of these tax agencies isn’t enough, the fees, penalties and interest end up being triple what the taxpayer might owe. It’s not uncommon for Illinois to slap on $1200 of fees onto a $400 tax bill. It matters not whether the taxpayer made $15,000 that year or $30,000. They’re now under water for a whopping amount of money, on top of the taxes they already paid, just to keep Mr. Billionaire and Mr. Corporation free from the burden of taxation. It’s not bad enough that America is financed on the backs of the working poor and struggling middle class, but the tax collectors insist on collecting every last nickel of those taxes and will excessively fine an already destitute citizenry to get it.
These injustices, which are perpetrated every day on Americans, may not be regular Twitter conversation now, but like the Boston Tea Party, abusive tax collection is a growing component of what will eventually become a set of conditions that lead Americans to becoming fed up. What will they do then?