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by Guillermo Jiminez, Tax Revolution Institute, 2016

(Sep. 9, 2016) — The letters I-R-S can arouse a range of emotions in a person, depending on the individual and his or her own experiences with our federal revenue-collection agency.

However, when it comes to the attendees of FreedomFest 2016, the sentiment regarding the Internal Revenue Service and US tax code turned out to be fairly consistent.

The Tax Revolution Institute’s (TRI) Ford Fischer set his camera on the participants of the “largest gathering of free minds in the world” in Las Vegas, Nevada, from July 13 to July 16, posing various questions with respect to the nation’s current system of taxation.

While their answers were varied, the respondents each painted a similar picture with their words: that of a rogue tax agency, badly in need of true independent oversight and revolutionary reform.

When asked to describe the IRS in three words, for example, featured speakers at the event such as Forbes Magazine Publisher Steve Forbes and documentary filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza provided somewhat predictable, tongue-in-cheek responses, like “a criminal enterprise” and “a bunch of crooks.”

A female conference attendee, however, was much more sullen in her comments. She described the IRS as “bullies” and “controlling,” adding that individual Americans are “basically guilty until [proven innocent]” when dealing with the agency. “I’ve gone through a couple audits with them,” she said, “and I’m amazed at the tactics they take, instead of really working with you.”

Another FreedomFest attendee took a somewhat more nuanced approach as well, calling the IRS “good people, [who are] overworked.” Indeed, the idea that the agency is staffed with well-meaning employees who are tasked with operating within a corrupt system is not lost on many observers, including several of the people featured in the video.

On the question of what the biggest issues are with our tax system, the same attendee said the system “needs to be simplified. The taxes are too much. They are taxing everything but the air we breathe.”

Forbes elaborated on this point by calling the US tax system not only “complex” when “it doesn’t need to be” but also “corrupt.”

“It is the biggest source of power for politicians,” he said. “That’s why it should be simple, so we can devote resources to bettering the lives of all of us.”

John Fund, a National Affairs columnist for National Review, echoed the sentiment, saying the tax code is “way too complicated.”

“I believe the current IRS code is 25 times longer than the Bible. It is punitive. It punishes work, and discourages investment. And I think that it destroys jobs,” Fund said. “For example, the United States has the highest corporate-tax rate of any industrialized country in the world.”

When it came to how to fix this broken system, the assorted answers mostly pointed to the same fundamental solution: make the tax code simpler and easier to understand. As for the IRS itself, there is a clear need to make the agency accountable to the American public and vastly more transparent.

The agency’s work and enforcement policies are so opaque, in fact, that Forbes goes as far as to say that “Uncle Sam has turned into ‘Uncle Tyrant.’” Is he right?

Video: https://youtu.be/g9CAE14j5_c

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