One for the IRS' records

September 14, 1998|By Arnold Rosenfeld

SOMETIME during the glasnost era, as everyone dedicated himself to the freshly arrived principles of democracy, some KGB delegates in the Russian parliament got it all wrong by proposing to toss anyone opposing free speech in the clink previously reserved for poets.

The poor fellows were just trying to humanize the KGB the only way they knew.

Our Internal Revenue Service has been in the penalty box for these many months after congressional hearings portrayed the agency as at least insensitive to the fiscal pain of others.

The IRS swore it would never do a lot of these things again, and would be warmer, more open, consumer-friendly.

The IRS kept its head down, presumably contemplating the pTC complexities of niceness. Until the other day, when Mark McGwire prepared to hit his 62nd home run. Speculation rose that if a fan caught the ball, and gave it to Mr. McGwire, the IRS would levy a gift tax of 40 percent of a presumed value of $1 million.

It would be just the luck of some bag lady to careen into the ballpark and catch the home run in her shopping cart while in a generous mood.

Contemplating this fantasy was more than most people could bear.

It's not that the IRS actually threatened such mind-boggling chintzyness -- it now says it won't -- but that it was careful not to deny it.

For the IRS to even hint that it would not collect a tax just sitting there was like asking the KGB to forswear socking a kulak in the snoot. Months of work out the window!

The IRS is reportedly putting out a book of CPA jokes to repair its damaged image.

Arnold Rosenfeld is editor-in-chief of Cox Newspapers.

Pub Date: 9/14/98

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