How the IRS Became America's Most Powerful Agency, How Congress Is Taking Control, and What You Can Do to Protect Yourself Under the New Law
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An exposÇ of the much-feared tax collecting agency, with description of the 1998 reforms and advice for taxpayers included almost as an afterthought. Not that the exposÇ isn—t juicy enough reading. More so than any other government agency, the Internal Revenue Service has created a culture of fear among the people it is supposed to serve, and stories about its methods have become part of modern urban legend. Delaware’s Republican Senator Roth, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and one of the few elected officials with the authority to check up on the IRS, here documents the investigations that led to the passage of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998. “What we uncovered,— he writes, —was an agency in crisis, caused by a breakdown in management, a lack of accountability . . . and a tax code so confusing that even the foremost tax experts are left angry, bewildered, and prone to mistakes.” In between detailed accounts of individual taxpayers— nightmarish experiences, Roth and co-author Nixon, the senator’s executive assistant and a former speechwriter in the Reagan administration, offer objective assessments of the agency that shed some light on its difficulties. They cite internal memos, audits, and reports analyzing the managerial structure that led to abuses, confusion about procedures, and overreliance on performance goals. As one IRS employee stated, “How many dollars collected or how many cases closed was—and is—the bottom line.” The authors provide no comparison with other government organizations, which might have illuminated the role federal bureaucracy plays in this kind of situation. Neither their brief description of reforms already implemented nor the outline of proper taxpayer behavior to avoid audits (or at least survive them) is as comprehensive as their scathing litany of the IRS’s sins. Virtually a textbook on mismanagement and its outcomes, this could serve as a handy business primer on how not to run an organization, (First printing of 60,000)

Pub Date: April 15th, 1999
ISBN: 0-87113-748-8
Page count: 288pp
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 1999


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