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Lazy Law Update: IRS Edition December 3, 2010

Posted by federalist in Judiciary, Taxation.

I have previously described the problem of selective enforcement of a byzantine legal code. Today the Libertarian Party alerts us to the federal government’s intention to imprison Wesley Snipes for three years for conviction on misdemeanor charges of ‘willful failure to file an income tax return.’

Why is a failure to file a tax return a criminal non-act? Should people ever be sent to prison for not doing something? If the IRS wants to come after Snipes and take his money, they have power to do that. Who does it help to send the man to prison?

The federal tax code also allows for “selective enforcement,” to put it mildly. Why is it that Wesley Snipes gets a prison sentence, but known tax cheat Tim Geithner gets promoted to Secretary of the Treasury? Maybe Tim should be Wesley’s cellmate. Throw tax cheat politician Charlie Rangel in the slammer too for good measure.



1. federalist - March 3, 2011

Regarding taxes, Don Pettengill asks:

What exactly is our legal duty? The IRS cannot tell us. Our accountants cannot tell us. The tax code is convoluted and indecipherable. Worse yet, its enforcement is often arbitrary and selective.

If compliance is beyond the ability even of our Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, then surely it is senseless to employ more IRS agents to crush U.S. citizens in the federal maw. Fix the tax system. Make it simple, clear and easy for the average citizen, and the noncompliance problem will fix itself. That might even reduce the number of IRS agents.

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