The Internal Revenue Service is working overtime to not only raise more revenue in an era of record budget deficits, but also to make Americans actually enjoy paying taxes.
“We’re on a mission both to crack down on tax cheats and to encourage more Americans to do their civic duty,” said Commissioner of Internal Revenue Doug Shulman. The move comes as the budget deficit has reached a number so high that it has yet to be named by mathematicians.
Named Leadership and Accuracy in Efficient Tax Solutions, the IRS plan is intended to ensure that those who owe taxes pay them before spending the money elsewhere. To that end, each American’s paycheck will be assessed based on a proportional tax rate – with the money automatically sent directly to the IRS – thereby avoiding the burden and expense of filing a tax return.
In other words, before you see your money, the IRS will. If, on tax day, the IRS determines it has taken too much the previous year, it will issue a refund; if too little, the agency will bill the taxpayer.
Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, whose department oversees the IRS, embraced the LAETS plan and stressed that all citizens are expected to pay their fair share of taxes. “Everyone must be held accountable for their tax obligations,” Geithner said. “It doesn’t matter if you owe $500, $100,000, or $42,702, you need to pay like everyone else.”
Despite the new controls, IRS officials realize that some Americans’ incomes will slip through the cracks, raising the risk that some will not pay their taxes. To prevent this, armed tax agents will be dispatched throughout the year to investigate, audit, and seize property if necessary.
LAETS also features a public relations makeover designed to help citizens not only prepare but actually anticipate their tax-paying duties.
For example, the word “taxes” will henceforth be called Government Finance Units, while the armed tax collectors will be named Benevolent Government Finance Unit Gatherers.
Activists say the change in terms will put a new face on a vital government service.
“Extremist, anti-tax groups like the Tea Party have for too long ridiculed and derided taxes, using such terms as ‘Death Tax’ or ‘Marriage Penalty Tax,’” said Austin Fuller of American Fair Share, a pro-tax organization based in Washington. “Citizens too often forget that their taxes go to important uses like bailing out poorly run multi-billion dollar corporations and helping people who don’t like to work. Helping people appreciate that requires eradicating anti-tax rhetoric.”
With the economy still struggling to recover, not everyone will actually be able to pay their taxes, despite the reforms. To meet this challenge, the LAETS program will establish Social Action Solidarity Camps.
“In these camps, citizens will join together, in the spirit of our great nation, and contribute accordingly to the benefit and prosperity of the people,” said Shulman. Under the program, delinquent taxpayers will be transported to camps where they will work on production lines.
Citizens will also be assigned office and administrative duties at the camps, in order to save money. People will work for two-year terms and will be expected to complete all of their assigned tasks.
The Social Action Solidarity Camps join the National American Service Initiative as the latest civilian service program. The difference is that the camps will directly raise money for the federal government.