Sunday, October 12, 2014

Why I Hate The IRS

Yes, we all hate the IRS to some extent, because we have to pay taxes.  No one likes parting with their money.  Yet, knowing the foundation and intent of our founding fathers, the need to promote the interests of a free society and have funds to protect the good of United States citizens, I can see the benefit of some taxation.  What I can't agree with is the IRS using its agency to push purely political ends and going against basic Constitutional principles.

While a holistic health blog seems a strange place to bash the IRS, I do have a health connection.  People are rarely one dimensional and they have many facets.  The melding of all these parts makes us unique.  The lawyer in me is making an appearance.

Mrs. Obama has made healthy eating a priority and has even changed the nutritional profile of school lunches.  The government will not pay for school lunches unless it meets certain dietary criteria.  She deserves a big shout out for that.  To enhance her movement, wouldn't it be great if the private sector started serving healthy lunch fare?  If employers in their cafeterias served nutritionally balanced meals as a benefit to their employees,  people would be getting healthy food.  And the government would not be paying for it.  Employees would have the convenience of having easy access to healthy meals and they would save money by not paying for it.  Employers would have healthier employees who benefited from this food.  Finally, employees would be more efficient because they do not have to worry about, "what should I eat for lunch?"  There really is no downside to this practice.  As a person in the health field, I support this type of private sector activity.

The IRS sees a downside though.  Big business is giving their employees a financial benefit with free lunches.  They are starting to penalize these progressive employers by taxing the employees for it.  But it is difficult to go after the employees, so in reality they will charge the company back taxes. 

While certain meal benefits like expensive, fancy business lunches should be taxed according to the tax code, exceptions are made if it is for the benefit of the employer.  An onsite cafeteria falls within such an employer self-interest. The IRS is essentially trying to tax big business without looking at the intent of the provision or the societal interest that it serves.  The IRS just wants to take money from big business.  It is supporting a political theory and the sentiment of President Obama who says,
"Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me..., people who don’t need them...?  People who earn money deserve to keep their money.  Yes, they should pay taxes, but this a free society where people should keep what they have earned.  Much of the good, charitable work done in society comes from the private sector.  The government isn't the only one who can do good things.

The IRS is an administrative agency, not a political pawn.  This behavior is similar to the IRS doggedly pursuing political organizations that had different views from the current administration.  This is currently an ongoing scandal with IRS employees trying to cover up improper behavior and communications.

So, I like what the IRS is supposed to be, an agency with the purpose of enforcing the tax code in a fair manner.  I don't like when it becomes an agency to harm basic Constitutional rights like free speech or destroy private sector initiatives that help society (like healthy, free lunches in a business cafeteria). 

Stay healthy & well,

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