IRS Doesn’t Hire 20-year-olds Because They’re Used to Stuff that Works

One of the most hilarious things for IT people is to hear non-IT people try to talk about computers and technology.  By no stretch of the imagination am I an IT person, but I do see the humor in that sort of thing as well.  Here is 75-year-old John Koskinen in a recent interview with Tax Analysts’ William Hoffman:

[W]e have a huge turnover in people under 30 because we’re not hiring that many. But when we’re hiring them, we’re obviously not keeping them at the rate that we would like….Part of that is because our technology is so abysmal. You take people, young people coming in at 23, 25, 27, and they’re used to….stuff that works. You know, they’re at the high end and they Twitter and they do all of that stuff. When you come into an organization still moving people onto Windows 7 from Windows XP, that’s not exactly a cutting-edge technological group….Now, on the other hand, we’ve proved technological, technology people because we are doing great things. We don’t have enough resources, and we’re way behind what we’d like to do. But, you know, the apps we’re doing — Where’s My Refund, Get Transcript, and that — so we’re pushing various state-of-the-art stuff, which is why I refer to our IT as a Model T with a great GPS and wonderful sound system….And so that’s some extent, so we’ve got some state-of-the-art apps and, you know, really ancient — you know the average age of our IT equipment is 15 years. So we have to be the only serious large organization of a financial institution running with average equipment age of 15 years. So our computers are too old, our servers are too old. You know, we still got stuff in COBOL programming….So that’s the problem at the front end.

I’m not 27 any more and I feel like I am used to stuff that works too.  It would absolutely drive me crazy to work with 15-year-old computer equipment.  I couldn’t work there for 1,000 other reasons, but that would be a big one.

This quote is so full of awesome lines I don’t even know where to start.  My favorite line: “You know, they’re at the high end and they Twitter and they do all of that stuff.”  It is funny to me that the head guy at the IRS says things like this.  I mean, it’s fine, we don’t need a spry young kid at the high end who Twitters or anything.  As long as he can manager other high end people who Twitter, things should be fine.  The IRS definitely has proved technology people and they’re doing apps and pushing various state-of-the-art stuff.  Oh boy, don’t even get me started on the IRS apps, Mr. Koskinen.  They aren’t that good.  After all, it doesn’t make much sense to put a GPS in a Model T if the Model T can’t go 99.99% of the places shown on the GPS.

Tax Humor

Taxes, tax attorneys, tax policy — not very funny stuff.  This is about as good as it gets.  I found it in the comments of an article I read this morning.  Somebody who goes by “Auldphart” offering his ideas for raising more revenue in this country:

Anyone who has carpeting in their house would have to pay a carpet tax.  How about a thumb tax?  Then there’s that old standby, taxing people’s patience.  If you have one or both your legs, you’d pay a shin tax. People with both legs would naturally pay twice as much.  People who have flat tires would have to pay a flat tax.  Progressives would have to pay a progressive tax, while Republicans would have to pay a regressive tax.   People leaving the country to avoid taxes woud be charged an egressive tax.  People who frequent gymnasiums would be charged an exercise tax.  Those eating at McDonald’s could be hit with something called a bigmaca tax.  Finally, people with Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain Spotted  Fever would be subject to a tick tax.

 I do not believe it’s melodramatic to suggest that the costs and massive bureaucracy required to run [the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare”] could bring the IRS to its knees.

~ Daniel J. Pilla, tax expert and analyst

Interesting Point

Chick-fil-A is what it is— a successful company whose founder’s personal views define its corporate culture. It’s a Ben and Jerry’s for the right, with an equally high calorie count.

~ Janet Novack, Forbes Writer


Clinton & Obama Clash on Tax Cuts for Wealthy

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Bill Clinton disagrees with Obama about what should be done about the tax cuts that are set to expire in January 2013. Obama’s position is that they should be renewed for people earning below $250,000.  The former president believes we should extend tax relief across the board for all Americans (at least for now) regardless of income levels:

What I think we need to do is to find some way to avoid the fiscal cliff, to avoid doing anything that would contract the economy now, and then deal with what’s necessary in the long-term debt-reduction plan as soon as they can, which presumably will be after the election.

~ Bill Clinton on CNBC’s “Closing Bell with Maria Bartiromo”

It’s hard to imagine there’s another potential “cliff” in our future, but I certainly would not doubt it.  Letting the tax cuts expire completely would be akin to running along the edge of the cliff blindfolded.



What Makes the Tax Code so Long?

This is the kind of thing that makes the tax code so long:

Any natural grape wine may be sweetened after fermentation and before tax payment with pure dry sugar or liquid sugar if the total solids content of the finished wine does not exceed 12% of the weight of the wine and the alcoholic content of the finished wine after sweetening is not more than 14% by volume; except that the use under this subsection of liquid sugar shall be limited so that the resultant volume will not exceed the volume which could result from the maximum authorized use of pure dry sugar only.

~ excerpt from 26 USC § 5383

IRS to Hire 4,000 New Employees

“[I]t’s a power grab. So even if the ObamaCare gets thrown out those agents will be there to harass us. What we need as a nation is fewer tax collectors and more entrepreneurs. We need tax simplification and these IRS agents should be able to contribute to the economy instead of sucking the blood out of it.

~ Steve Forbes

The Commish on “Risk and Uncertainty”

One attribute of our tax system that adds uncertainty is its impermanence.  Short term provisions, that sunset but are then often extended, have an unsettling effect on both clarity and stability.

In 2010, the Joint Committee on Taxation identified more than 130 tax provisions that were set to expire at the end of 2010, with approximately another 70 to sunset at the end of 2011. And 40 more tax provisions are set to expire at the end of 2012. This year, we actually had a tax provision that was set to expire in two months.

 A perfect example of uncertainty for business taxpayers caused by expiring provisions is the Research and Experimentation tax credit. Its purpose is to foster innovation and technological development while spurring economic growth and competitiveness.

However, for the past 30 years, it has been extended 14 times, many of those retroactively, for periods ranging from six months to five years. Such persistent uncertainty about the future availability of the R&E credit diminishes its incentive effect as taxpayers often do not know if they can depend on the credit when making decisions on future investments in research and development.

~ IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, February 15, 2012

Tax Reform? Probably Not in our Lifetime.

Geithner’s comments on the tax reform timeline:

We’re going to begin to think about laying the groundwork for a series of meetings to be held in the very near future wherein we will lay the framework for a discussion regarding when and how we will start to seriously think about how we are going to make informal suggestions in preparation for real tax reform.

Ok, obviously I’m paraphrasing here.  But it went something like this.  Read his actual statement here.

IRS E-File

Since a growing number of Americans are filing their returns electronically, there is no room for error in IRS computer systems. The IRS must be relentless in its pursuit of excellence with regard to all aspects of the Modernized e-file system. Attention to system security, capacity, and performance accuracy are paramount.


~ J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration