tax collection and pedophilia

OK, how fucked up is this? Instead of hiring IRS agents to collect the funds already due to the US Treasury, we’re going to give the job to a third-party private entity, costing us several times what it would if we just handled it internally, within the IRS. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Here’s a clip from the Freakonomics blog:

…David Cay Johnston, who does an incredible job covering U.S. tax policy and other business issues for the N.Y. Times, today has an interesting article about how the I.R.S. is outsourcing the collection of back taxes to third parties–i.e., collection agencies. “The private debt collection program,” Johnston writes, “is expected to bring in $1.4 billion over 10 years, with the collection agencies keeping about $330 million of that, or 22 to 24 cents on the dollar.”

Maybe that seems like too big a cut to surrender. And maybe people will be worried about the collection agencies having access to their financial records (a concern that Johnston addresses in the Times article). But what’s most striking to me is that the I.R.S. knows who owes the money, and knows where to get it, but can’t afford to collect it itself because it is understaffed. So it has to hire someone else to do it, at a stiff price.

The I.R.S. admits that external collection is far more expensive than internal collection. Johnston cites current I.R.S. commissioner Mark Everson as saying so, as well as former commissioner Charles O. Rossotti, who told Congress that if the I.R.S. hired more agents, it “could collect more than $9 billion each year and spend only $296 million–or about three cents on the dollar–to do so,” according to Johnston…

So, if I’ve got this right, we’re flushing hundreds of millions of our dollars down the toilet, which could be going to offsetting the debt, because the Bush administration 1) has a bug up its ass about privatization, and 2) because their lunatic base fears the increased staffing of the IRS. As a taxpayer, that really fucking pisses me off. (update: For what it’s worth, apparently it pisses off Paul Krugman too.)

But we’re too obsessed by the threat of snakes on a plane, malnourished narcissistic members of the aristocracy on YouTube and delusional pedophiles to give a fuck. (And, as long as we’re on the subject, yes, I did find myself watching John Mark Karr’s “press conference,” and I didn’t find it all that persuasive. I suppose it’s possible that he did kill JonBenet Ramsey, but the sense that I get is that he’s just a terribly sick individual looking for attention.) And, while we’re on the subject of pedophilia, do yourself a favor and run as fast as humanly possible if you see anyone wearing the jewelry pictured here. (It sounds like an internet hoax to me, but the New York Times swears that pedophiles wear matching pendants, or at least they did until the New York Times ran this story. They’re probably all twisting and melting them into big “W”s now.)

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  1. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted August 23, 2006 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    FOX is launching a new series the spring about a IRS agent who also entertains as a clown at children’s birthday parties. It’s supposed to be kind of like “Monk,” only the lead character would be a pedophile instead of having OCD, and he’d be an IRS agent instead of being a detective. Otherwise, it’s the same.

  2. Tony Buttons Esq.
    Posted August 23, 2006 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    OK, I guess I have to return these new earings I got for my wife.

  3. ol' e cross
    Posted August 23, 2006 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    New earings? I wish it was that easy. Now I’ve got to get my new tatoo removed. The artist who gave it to me said it was a hieroglyphic that meant “wisdom of the Sphinx.”

  4. mike_1630
    Posted August 23, 2006 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    That… is… fucked up.

  5. mark
    Posted August 23, 2006 at 9:49 pm | Permalink


  6. mark
    Posted August 29, 2006 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    update: No surprise – Karr won

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