EDITOR'S NOTE: Tax time is here and Fox News' intrepid Washington correspondent Brian Wilson tackles an unenviable assignment. Here he is with a humorous look at everyone's least favorite time of year. And be sure to let Brian know your thoughts on tax time at the email link below.
It started like any ordinary day — with a visit to the assignment desk to find out what story the bosses had come up with this time.
But there it was. Right next to my name. The most dreaded of assignments ...
To report on problems at the IRS.
Now, don't get me wrong. I believe in the public's right to know. I believe our viewers should be told of the problems in government. But this is the IRS!!! It's an agency noted for taking its job responsibility very seriously, an agency with thousands of number crunchers invested by the government with the power to make your life a living hell.
Think I'm kidding? Well look what happened to syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry. Barry has been poking fun at the IRS for years. But this year — on the very day he sat down to write his annual IRS column — he was notified that he was being audited.
Said Barry, "I swear, I am not making this up."
Well, with that duly noted, I'm here to tell you — in the nicest way possible and with utmost respect for the fine men and women employed by the IRS — that the IRS has a few small problems. Barely worth mentioning, really. Honest. But you should know about them anyway.
If you call the IRS to ask for help, there is almost a 50 percent chance that your question will be met with the wrong answer. At least that's what Treasury Department investigators who posed as taxpayers found.
But don't worry. There's a 37 percent chance that your call won't go through anyway.
The IRS acknowledged the problems in testimony before Congress. IRS Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti — by all accounts an all-around nice guy — called the IRS' phone service "unacceptable."
See? You can't be angry at a guy willing to admit there is a problem. And you certainly can't be angry at me for reporting what the commissioner of the IRS says, right?
So there you have it. A story about hard-working servants of the people given a difficult and unpopular task. Though they struggle at times, they're striving to do a better job.
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