On May 31, 2009, in Frank Trejo, by trayho

By Sydney Schanberg – Guest Columnist to the Justice Times -1988

Italics are mine – Frank Trejo – Yesterday’s News Today

Its that loathsome time of the year again when we feel called upon to explore the question of why the IRS is such an unloved organization. Does this agency and its apparatchiks (A honcho in the communist party) deserve to be hated so? Well, hate is probably too strong a word. It takes too much energy to hate. But they do work hard at the IRS to earn our dislike and disrespect. And the worst of it is that in convincing us of their arbitrariness and unfairness, they invite disrespect of the law itself.

Maybe nobody loves a cop, but we respect good cops. Unlike good cops, the IRS doesn’t give us any reason to find it respectable. When it makes mistakes, it refuses to admit them. When you ask it a question, you get in return a form letter drafted by a Jabberwock and signed by someone with a title, someone who will never come to the phone. They do put phone numbers on the threatening letters they send, and they advise you to call if you have questions.

So you call, and someone answers whose name ought to be “I’m-Only-Carrying-Out-Orders” or “I’d-Like-To-Help-You-But.” And this someone tells you such things as “”We don’t have computers here, so I don’t have access to your case” or “Why don’t you write us a letter?” or “Maybe you should talk to our Problem Resolution Office.”

The Problems Resolution Office is a sop to calm you down. There are 80 of these offices nationwide, and the people who work there probably have good intentions; they may even believe they are functioning as true ombudsmen. But in the end, the bullies in the rest of the IRS take over and start up the threatening letters again and tell you that if you don’t pay up what they say you owe within the next 10 days, they’re going to garnishee your salary, freeze your bank account and seize your collection of baseball cards.

One reason for this tough-guy attitude is that, deny it though they will, the IRS commissars reward and promote those of their apparatchiks who collect the most money and seize the most property. (Cops do the same thing writing tickets) This kind of mindset is nurtured on the belief that every taxpayer, no exceptions acknowledged, is dedicated to hoaxing and cheating one’s government.

The level of faith in my fellow taxpayer is not of such childlike innocence as to deny that cutting a few corners here and there on the payment of government levies has become a national tradition. But the average taxpayer does not have the soul of a Columbian drug dealer; he is not a wholesale lizard.

Over the years, I have observed my share of the agency’s arrogance. When I was a reporter overseas in the 1970’s, for example, the IRS changed its rules at some point on the ability to deduct moving expenses. They didn’t write it into their instruction manual containing the tax rules for people living overseas. They simply did it and put it in their ever changing book of regulations. That book did not even exist at American embassies overseas.

In order to know its secrets, you had to be either a mystic or an IRS employee – or maybe on of the handful of tax lawyers and accountants in the United States who had happened to stumble over it. But if you were a poor American sod working overseas, you couldn’t have had a clue. So, of course, they audited some of my returns because I had continued to deduct moving expenses as the IRS had instructed me to in their instruction manual.

When I argued that they had an obligation to inform taxpayers about these changes, they retorted smugly that ignorance of the rules was no excuse, that the obligation to be informed rested on my shoulders and that, in effect, I was a foolish naïf (naïve – for those of us that never saw a dictionary) if I hadn’t come to know by the fourth decade of my life that in the tax system, everyone is guilty until proven innocent. Unless you want to spend the rest of your life arguing in the courts, you pay. I paid.

Lately, they’re back at me with their Catch-22’s again. (That’s what you get for being a naïf – wondered how long I was going to wait to use my new found word) They audited my 1983 return and, wearily, I accepted their assessment of taxes owed (Pendejo! A Chicano slang word for stupid) Then, as I was about ready to write a check, I went over their documents and noticed that the arithmetic was out of whack – and not in my favor. Their assessment was over $1000 more than the amount the numbers added. And added

To it was the interest on that $1000-plus. (Pendejo – no more)

So, foolishly, I asked them to explain (oohh Pendejo – again) I also asked them to put a hold on the case while the discrepancy was being checked into – to avoid the anguish of having my baseball cards seized.

First I was directed from pillar to post by those people named I’m-Only-Carrying-Out-Orders and I’d-Like-To-Help-You-But. Then one of those people acknowledged that the numbers indeed didn’t add up but said it had something to do with a refund I got in 1985 I didn’t recall the refund and therefore still didn’t understand the arithmetic. (Should’ve had home schooling)

So I asked for further clarification and for the documents showing the refund. Eventually I got a letter saying they were “looking into” my questions.

And then came the kicker. An “overdue” statement arrived, not only telling me to pay up or face the firing squad, but adding additional interest and a penalty for not having paid them when I got the first assessment. The moral: If you question us in any way, we will punish you.

AT every turn, the IRS sneers at the idea that civilized behavior is necessary to the building of a civilized society. Bravo to the builders of distrust…end of article

Bear in mind that many changes may have occurred since all the articles were written years ago. But one thing that won’t change is the ruthlessness, intimidation, and the fraudulent manner in which they treat law-abiding citizens. Many years ago, and perhaps still, people contesting the antics of the IRS during appointments would carry tape recorders. Just like that, the interview would be over. IRS personnel couldn’t handle questions of constitutional law. Even simple questions like “Do you have jurisdiction over me.” Constitutionally, they don’t.


My bio can be seen at my other website shown below.  It is full of stories of growing up in the barrio. The ups and downs in a society of much discrimination. The experiences in schools. My year in Las Vegas as a cab driver. Being self-employed in the food industry. All in all, I came out of unscathed and don’t harbor any ill-feelings. I live in the greatest country on earth. I love you America.


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