The IRS “Pendulum”

If we were to step back and take a look at the history of IRS collection efforts (wage garnishment, bank levy, seizure of assets, etc.), we would see that it has not been consistent in its use of all available collection tools.

Longtime observers of our federal tax system note sagely that there are recurrent pendulum swings.  For some years, the IRS will be encouraged to collect, collect, collect, and inevitably be admired for its toughness perhaps earning an accolade: ruthless.  Then, after a few too many citizens have rugs pulled from under them, Congress and the Executive Branch will rebuke the IRS.  Telling the IRS how mean and inappropriate it is, Congress will cut back on the agency’s authority and make it play nice.

~ Robert W. Wood, Forbes Contributor

Wood goes on to explain that the pendulum swung to the far “NICE” side in the late 1970s. Then it swung back to the “RUTHLESS” side by the 1990s. Then back to “NICE” in the late 1990s. So is there any question where we stand today?

 [T]he pendulum has again swung the other way.  The economy is hurting, revenues are declining and wells are drying up.  Facing budget cuts and revenue shortfalls everywhere, the IRS is on a mission to collect, collect, collect.

~ Robert W. Wood, Forbes Contributor

Wood sees the IRS getting tougher on criminal investigations and even regular collection cases. For example, primary residences and retirement accounts have always been “fair game” technically, but in reality the IRS usually doesn’t have the heart to take them. Not now, according to Wood. See full story here.

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