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GAO Criticizes IRS Over Serious IT Deficiencies

Unknown Lamer posted more than 3 years ago | from the gaozilla-vs-irsthra dept.

Government 57

wiredmikey writes with an analysis of a GAO report on the dismal failure of the IRS to implement secure IT practices. From the article: "The Government Accountability Office has blasted the Internal Revenue Service for failing to implement stronger security measures after a succession of dismal reports on the subject. In a report issued to the Secretary of the Treasury last week, the GAO said that the IRS had met just 15 percent of the 105 previously reported recommendations where information security is concerned. Taking a blunt approach, the GAO said that the IRS 'lacks reasonable assurance as to the accuracy of financial information or the adequate protection of sensitive taxpayer information.' ... It also said it would issue a limited distribution report to the IRS that addresses details omitted from this most recent report due to the sensitivity of the information."

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How comical! How comical! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38058604)

The "middle number," as some grass roots organizations like to call it, is nothing more than a chance for delirious methamphetamine addicts to become more than they were.

Celebrity tax return snooping (4, Interesting)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#38058618)

I can't find the link after a few minutes on Google, but a couple years back there was news that some IRS employees were using their computer systems to snoop on celebrities and read their tax returns.

This report seems basically like confirmation that once you're on the system, you can do whatever you want.

I think a basic precaution would be that you have to know both the social security number and the name in order to open a file.

Re:Celebrity tax return snooping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38058678)

Hmm, maybe if you tried searching for "celebrity tax return snooping" you might get a few hits.

https://encrypted.google.com/search?q=celebrity+tax+return+snooping

Re:Celebrity tax return snooping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38058692)

How about omitting the name entirely from agent-visible data except in the case of a personal visit?

Ironic, captcha says "unfair".

Re:Celebrity tax return snooping (4, Insightful)

Compaqt (1758360) | more than 3 years ago | (#38058830)

Speaking of which, does anybody find it strange that whenever someone does something the President doesn't like, he gets audited by the IRS? Nixon did it, so did JFK, and the coincidences continue.

Re:Celebrity tax return snooping (1)

gregmark (750089) | more than 3 years ago | (#38060886)

I have not noticed that. I'm guessing that your observation is derived from anecdotal, possibly apocryphal audits.

You're wrong (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 3 years ago | (#38063866)

Nixon badly misused the agency. In the aftermath, Congress cracked down on the IRS like they have done for no other agency. For example, even small agencies usually have lots of political appointees. Those jobs are often used as payback. The IRS, though, has only two political appointees - the Commissioner and the Taxpayer Advocate.

Anyone who believes the IRS routinely launches audits of personal income tax returns upon the orders of some high-placed politician is living in 1972. There have been more recent allegations of political reasons for starting audits of exempt organizations such as churches but there have been virtually no shenanigans concerning individuals for decades.

tl;dr - You don't know what you're talking about.

Re:Celebrity tax return snooping (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#38058874)

The key issue is with IT workers we work at a level that is behind the software audits. And really how much is the right balance of using our tax money to make the IRS more secure?

You can go all out spend billions of dollars for massive audits and an infrastructure that can handle everything to make sure nothings slips by the cracks. Or spend millions of dollars to make sure the common stuff doesn't get by and only a few slip by.

You can just do nothing and figure we have invested enough already.

We have this strange notion that the government needs to be infallible in everything, then we complain that they are not spending their money wisely.
Most of the government waste goes to "Covering their asses" Not so much in corruption where we are spending money to help hide a political figure from his mistakes but in a process that tries to make sure there are no mistakes where everything needs to go up and down the entire chain before it gets approved.

We have all heard of the $900 toilet seat. It isn't the fact the vendor was selling the seat for $900 but because Maintenance Worker A see a seat that needs to be replaced. Spend 15 minutes writing a form to request it, his manager has to read it look at the seat verify that it needs to be replaced, then approves the form brings it further up Where people look at the seat try to find the most cost effective vendor for the seat, debate whether they should just get a cheap $5.00 one that will last 5 months or a nice one that will last for years. After all this and a month later the seat comes it. Why all this for a $20 medium quality seat. Because if they found out the Maintenance Guy A has been spending government money to buy $30 seats where they could have gotten one for $20 would cause an issue where either the Maintenance Man would get fired or his direct boss or further up, depending who is the best at pointing fingers.

Re:Celebrity tax return snooping (5, Informative)

jackbird (721605) | more than 3 years ago | (#38059360)

Actually, no. The $600 Toilet seats were for an aircraft (E3 Hawkeye?) that had a non-standard sized seat that had to conform to various weight and durability requirements. The contractor that originally supplied the seats no longer had the tooling from their original production run, so making replacement seats became a matter of starting a small-batch production run with large startup costs (making molds, etc.).

EDIT: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toilet_seat#U.S._Navy.27s_.22.24600_Toilet_Seat.22 [wikipedia.org] will tell you all you need to know. I had some details wrong above, but the actual story looks even better for the military.

Re:Celebrity tax return snooping (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38064804)

That occurs so often with military procurement it's not even notable except to anti-military activists.

At one time it was assumed that the system would be replaced in X years. X years rolls around and there is no replacement system so the military tries to keep the system operational with repairs and relevant with upgrades. This costs taxpayers some money but if you check the cost of ownership of a system like the 1970s era Firefinder radar for it's entire life and the cost of the replacement system proposed it ends up being cheaper even if the 1970s era transistors used have to be reengineered, that the traveling wave tube magnetron needs a new ferrite circulator reengineered, that it needs a new computer system engineered to replace some of the manual systems etc, etc compared to replacing all of them with the latest (1990s era tech) system.

Re:Celebrity tax return snooping (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 3 years ago | (#38059916)

Your words, "The key issue is with IT workers we work at a level that is behind the software audits. And really how much is the right balance of using our tax money to make the IRS more secure?"

When your organization is so complex and unwieldy that what you state has serious weight in a discussion then you or your system is fatally flawed.

The IRS's problems are a direct result of a tax system which only exists to serve the needs of politicians and their friends. It certainly does not serve their constituents

Identity theft? (4, Funny)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 3 years ago | (#38058668)

Should I be thinking twice about filing my taxes? It seems like there's a pretty big risk for identity theft.

Re:Identity theft? (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38058896)

Should I be thinking twice about filing my taxes? It seems like there's a pretty big risk for identity theft.

Actually, you want to file as early as you can. One of the biggest identity theft targets is tax refunds: steal someone's SSN, and file. I've seen cases where the refund was sent to completely different States than where the real taxpayer lives. The IRS doesn't check DOBs, either so don't count on them not knowing that as a defense.

And what do you do when that happens? Call the IRS and then they "investigate" while you go round and round with their customer service. So, be sure to call your Congressman and Senator if it happens. Their offices are pretty good at shaking up Government agencies.

MOD PARENT UP (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 3 years ago | (#38063942)

To avoid bad guys using the IRS to help steal your identity, FILE AS EARLY AS POSSIBLE! I can't stress this enough.

Also, to prevent your ex from taking exemptions for the kids even though s/he isn't entitled, make sure you file first.

Re:MOD PARENT UP (1)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 3 years ago | (#38064910)

I'd love to see my ex try. If you previously have not claimed exemptions and start to, it raises huge red flags with the IRS and can trigger an audit. :)

Re:MOD PARENT UP (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 3 years ago | (#38066796)

Yes, but the audit comes much later. The exemptions will be given to whoever files first. The person who was supposed to get the exemptions will then be stuck without getting credt for the exemptions for many months until everything is sorted out.

I stand by my initial statement. As a practical matter, if you want things to go smoothly, file first (assuming, of course, you are the one who is legally entitled to the exemptions).

Re:Identity theft? (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 3 years ago | (#38058978)

Everybody files taxes. To be considered a big risk for identity theft, there would have to be thousands of cases of identity theft resulting from it. That isn't the case. You would have heard about it.

Re:Identity theft? (1)

walkerp1 (523460) | more than 3 years ago | (#38060770)

There's a pretty bigger risk of government theft if you don't...theft of your time, money, freedom, and reputation that is. I prefer my chances with the petty thieves rather than the pros.

Should I be thinking twice about filing my taxes? It seems like there's a pretty big risk for identity theft.

Re:Identity theft? (1)

Sarius64 (880298) | more than 3 years ago | (#38063662)

Call the IRS and ask for a complete account of where the money has come into your SSN account. When I did because something was erroneous they cited PRIVACY concerns as why I could not know what someone else submitted into MY account. You don't have to wonder why ID Theft is the number one crime when a criminal potentially harming your character has more rights that you with a federal agency.

http://www.ustream.tv/theother99 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38058684)

our real history & future happening NOW, whilst we ponder corepirate nazi tax codes? are our taxes being used to weaponize against US, & our billions of true genuine allies world wide watching/waiting on US? disarm the genocidal weapons peddler profiteers.

More money to the IRS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38058700)

So which brave American politician is going to propose a law to give more money to the IRS to implement all of this?

Re:More money to the IRS (3, Interesting)

DudeTheMath (522264) | more than 3 years ago | (#38060394)

Amen! Congress has been starving the IRS of funding. The ROI to the federal government in terms of successful audits of the biggest tax cheats is huge, but with a tiny budget for audits, the IRS can't take on as many of the "big fish" who can mount strong defenses; it only has the resources to go after the minnows, even though there isn't much meat on them.

A 2010 report from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse found that the audit rate of large (> $250M in assets) corporations dropped from 42.6% to 25% since 2005, and that for huge (> $5B) corporations dropped from 78% to 64% since only 2007. Do you think this is because of increased compliance? Ha. Ha.

Also see this 2008 OMB Watch [ombwatch.org] report.

Re:More money to the IRS (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 3 years ago | (#38063094)

It's the same with state tax commissions as well. Here in Idaho we had a person sitting on the State Tax Commission that owed several hundred thousand in back taxes, but he sat on the committee charged with investigating such abuses so guess how much of his debt he paid? He was/is a friend of the Governor too so I guess that should really be shocking.

MOD PARENT UP...and one more thing (3, Interesting)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 3 years ago | (#38064126)

The ROI for the IRS is, indeed, fantastic.

So keep this in mind - Any politician who says they want to reduce government debt but who does not also say they are willing to fund the IRS to the level it needs is a liar.

Revenue Officers, even new ones, bring in 3 to 20 times their salary (sometimes much, much more) per year. So why aren't we hiring more Officers and Agents and all the support people they need? Because politician are liars, people with no integrity who will say whatever it takes to get elected whether it makes sense or not. Here's the most basic test I can think of - Any politician who says they want to abolish the IRS is too stupid to carry out any job more complex than janitor (and I really hate to insult janitors by suggesting politicians could do their job). Don't vote for them.

Re:MOD PARENT UP...and one more thing (1)

randyleepublic (1286320) | more than 3 years ago | (#38070600)

Clifford Douglas was much, much smarter than you. He realized that society could self fund all needed infrastructure without any taxation at all. Read my sig. The link is a good start on the road to wisdom.

Dismal is right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38058710)

The fact that they're passing around "sensitive taxpayer information" between unsecured and unpatched* systems in un-encrypted form is bad enough, but it only gets worse when you factor in "issues concerning management validation of access to restricted areas, proximity cards allowing inappropriate access, and unlocked cabinets containing network devices."

Security issues compound on one another. For example, having unlocked cabinets with switches/routers is already a serious issue, but it's a critical risk when the information being routed through is unencrypted, and downright foolish when your proximity cards allow "inappropriate access" and let anyone just walk into the server area.

Systems/networks like these are ticking time bombs, and the worst part is that not even 2 scathing security reviews will shake things up when it comes to massive government organizations like the IRS. Next year we'll almost surely see a post with almost the exact same title.

* "The UNIX tool does not test whether appropriate security patches have been applied, and the mainframe tool only tests compliance with a limited subset of the agency’s policies."

http://www.occupystream.com/ (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38058780)

resistance to the genocidal neogods is,,,, redundant. our billions of real allies world wide are watching/waiting....

why bother with IRS? (3, Interesting)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#38058858)

With all the inflation created by the Fed to feed the ever hungry Treasury, why bother with the IRS? Here is a cost cutting for you: abolish the IRS and just keep counterfeiting. There is no difference. IRS is just a token dep't, existing for the sake of existing, today, that government only collects a small part of its expenses in taxes and borrows and prints the rest.

You KNOW the final result of this government agenda. The final result is massive inflation (maybe even hyper inflation). What difference does it make if you collect a few percentage points of your expenses in taxes, while the most of what you spend you print directly (QE) or indirectly - 0% interest at the discount window given to the banks, so they can buy US Treasuries?

USA can never repay its debt with honest money, it is going to monetize the debt and destroy the value of USD further. Since 1913 the value of USD has come down by 99%, what's the big deal about the 1 remaining percent? What's so special about it?

Since 1971 the end result was pre-determined. The fiat currencies of the world were going to come to a disgraceful end. Today in Greece they already don't bother with the fiat, people on the streets already found ways to exchange their labor and products/services by using other means of exchange, store of value and unit of account (all this to avoid the austerity imposed by the banks upon the country and to avoid the taxation.)

Greeks are doing it right.

At some point everybody else will wake up and do it right too.

Re:why bother with IRS? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38059096)

why bother with the IRS?

The IRS is there to:
1) Make doubly sure that any citizen can be found guilty of a serious crime should the need arise.
2) Restrict economic progression of the workforce
3) Enable special interests to avoid 2
4) Raise capital to 'invest' aforementioned special interests.

Taxes are a necessity but to place the majority of the burden on the least capable is wrong. Especially that it appears to be purely on the understanding that if you were to ask the most wealthy to do so, they would refuse/offshore.

"We can't enforce a fair and reasonable tax system so we don't have one."

Re:why bother with IRS? (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#38059174)

Oh, so the above comment is 'redundant'? Why, did anybody else make the same point in this story?

But there is no rhyme or reason to the moderation here. Lets look at some cases:

http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2521666&cid=38034324 [slashdot.org] -1 Troll (opinion)

http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2521666&cid=38038114 [slashdot.org] 0 Flamebait - in response to this amazing proposition of violence that stays untouched by any moderation. [slashdot.org]

http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2521666&cid=38040890 [slashdot.org] 0 Flamebait - for pointing out facts.

http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2521666&cid=38036472 [slashdot.org] 0 Overrated - pointing out facts.

http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2521666&cid=38035320 [slashdot.org] -1 Troll - pointing out facts.

Re:why bother with IRS? (1)

dkf (304284) | more than 3 years ago | (#38059514)

Oh, so the above comment is 'redundant'?

There's a fair chunk of randomness in moderation due to the fact that people are really rather variable. "Groupthink" is really not the truth of it; "average out over many people" is closer to the truth.

Write well enough to not embarrass yourself, and don't sweat what some random ass thinks.

Re:why bother with IRS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38060220)

don't sweat what some random ass thinks

Ah, but does that not work both ways? That is: most moderators think of roman_mir as the "random ass", so they mod him down, and move on

Methinks roman is one of them OWS protestors who thinks he's entitled to other people giving him the attention he thinks he deserves

Re:why bother with IRS? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38059578)

The reason all these get moderated down is that no one else really cares for poorly reasoned, ideological tirades. Maybe its not the moderators who are the problem here?

Re:why bother with IRS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38063262)

Your comment is not redundant, it's moronic as are most of your posts, it's just there is no moderation for that.

Re:why bother with IRS? (1)

TallDarkMan (1073350) | more than 3 years ago | (#38060144)

what's the big deal about the 1 remaining percent? What's so special about it?

It keeps them in control of the dollar as U.S. currency. This way, when all hell breaks loose, they can present the Amero [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amero] as the new money, valued to get everyone on the same level, but still control the exchange rate (from USD to Amero). Those who maketh the money, control the money.

Re:why bother with IRS? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38060290)

Hi. A quick economics lesson. Money has no intrinsic value. Frankly, even gold does not have an intrinsic value close to what it represented when it was used as our reserves. Money represents goods and services. If all of the goods and services went away, you would have worthless paper. If we had a gold reserve, your gold would be worthless as well.

I hate the debt. But things like the "USD has come dwn by 99%" are close to being accurate (it is actually more like 95%) but misleading. We have this thing called inflation. If good X costs 50 times what it did in 1913 but we are making 50 times as much as we did in 1913, it is a wash. A little inflation is healthy for an economy. Remember, money has no intrinsic value... it only represents goods and services.

So, if you are arguing that we only have 1% of the purchasing power as we did in 1913, you are far, far offbase.

No, a "fiat" currency does not spell the end of a currency. Hate to break this to you, but currencies were devalued long before governments went off the gold and silver standards. When people argue that floating currencies caused the overspending problem, they simply disqualify themselves from being taken seriously. Floating currencies simply mean that these adjustments take place automatically on a daily basis rather than waiting for official proclimations of a currency's value. The gold standard was simply and intermediary step between the fixed and fully floating regimes. Gold is not some magical device that afforded protection against bad gov't policy.

So while I do think our country is spending itself into oblivion, and we will have inflation in the double digits or a SERIOUS devaluation event. But the Ron Paul arguments as to the cause are just plain silly.

Re:why bother with IRS? (1)

Vaphell (1489021) | more than 3 years ago | (#38063268)

I see money as something similar to shares of company. A unit of currency is a share in the country's economy. When there is a fixed amount of shares you know exactly what you 'own'. When some bureaucrats in government decide that the amount of shares in economy is to jump because they say so - this is a scam. Investing and saving in such arbitrary environment is like trying to learn how to walk while some fucker is playing with the value of g. The only way to stand a chance is to be friends with said fucker and know his next move.

Deflation being harmful is bullshit. When it is a result of increased productivity and efficiency everybody wins (more stuff for the same amount of money), when it's a result of economy imploding from excess leverage then it is a move towards natural equilibrium and wipes entities that are not viable and destroy wealth - it's a good thing, we don't need toxic assets poisoning the economy for many years to come.

Governments love inflation, they can cut corners when it comes to payments updates (all liabilities), it wipes the debt in real terms (lenders get fucked over), it bumps people's income into higher tax brackets. Have you noticed how everybody says that if only southern europe could devalue the shit of their money everything would be honey and unicorns once again? Ongoing currency war (aka race to the bottom) makes no sense - it's the only war that is about shooting at your own troops. You win when your citizens become dirt poor.
Banks also love inflation - it forces everybody and their dog to use their services to at least try to break even and they get make a killing. If you wonder why financial sector is huge and like an octopus entangling whole economy, look no further and thank mainstream economists who love inflationist policies.
What about people on dicretionary income (ordinary workers, retirees) as in 90 fucking percent of people? They are getting killed and only the rich have know-how, time and money to fight the uphill battle against inflation - somehow everybody is surprised that the share of top income brackets is increasing? wtf... In stable/slightly deflationary environment you would be able to save without jumping through the flaming hoops and having some assets for retirement would be no problem.

Re:why bother with IRS? (1)

Zouden (232738) | more than 3 years ago | (#38060368)

When exactly is this hyper-inflation supposed to start? I've been hearing about it for years, but the inflation rate is still what, 3.6%?

Re:why bother with IRS? (2)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#38060588)

I was the AC to whom you replied (too lazy to log in).

Good question. I don't know exactly when it will happen. If you look at a country with a large trade imbalance and large external debts, you will see the currency decline in value. This brings the trade imbalance back in line and eventually the currency finds its proper value. Quite beautiful mathematically.

So why is the dollar not declining? It is used as the reseve currency for many, many nations. In fact, it represents about 60-70% of the world's reserves. The dollar is viewed as the most stable world currency and its markets are freer than most others. I am struggling to find a world-wide reserve amount, but China is said to have $3 Trillion by itself.

So what does this mean? It means that there is a huge external demand for the dollar that causes its value to be higher than it would otherwise. The downward pressure of our deficits is being (mostly) counteracted by increasing foreign dollar reserves.

Three scenarios are theoretically possible
1) Everything continues as it is now. Countries continue to grow and continue to use the dollar for their reserves and those reserves increase. Good news for Joe American consumer.. he can spend like a pig and never feel the consequences of rising prices.
2) Countries flatten out their demand for dollars. This could happen if countries just stop growing quickly (China, India) but don't change their reserve mix. Or countries continue to grow but rely on the Euro or other currencies. Joe American would see increased prices over a long period. Softer landing, but definitely a reduction in buying power.
3) Countries dump the dollar as their reserve. There are a lot of countries that would love to do this, but what really holds them back is that it would hurt them in the process as well. You dump trillions of currency at once, and the value of what you are dropping... well... drops. Joe American would suddenly see dollars worth 30-50 cents before the dump. Call this one the crash landing.

Hope that helps!

Re:why bother with IRS? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#38060644)

And, BTW, I hate the way Slashdot renders the messages. You apparently did NOT reply to my AC comment. (sigh)

Re:why bother with IRS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38060432)

You can't pay for stuff with inflation. E.g. lets say we get rid of IRS, no more taxes, and government operates by inflating currency---are you seriously advocating government should inflate the currency by 30% a year or so? That $1000 will be worth exactly 1000 / (1.3)**10 in 10 years... or just $72. That would be horrible... you can't plan for things with that kinda inflation. Your retirement "savings" (mr.responsible) would go up in smoke.

Re:why bother with IRS? (1)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 3 years ago | (#38060692)

You may not like it, but it has happened countless times to many countries over the past couple centuires. As long as the US denominates its debt in its own currency, it always has this option.

Re:why bother with IRS? (1)

DrFalkyn (102068) | more than 3 years ago | (#38070896)

With all the inflation created by the Fed to feed the ever hungry Treasury, why bother with the IRS? Here is a cost cutting for you: abolish the IRS and just keep counterfeiting. There is no difference. IRS is just a token dep't, existing for the sake of existing, today, that government only collects a small part of its expenses in taxes and borrows and prints the rest.

In FY 2010, the U.S. collected $2.1 trillion in taxes, and borrowed $1.3 trillion, I would hardly consider ~2/3 to be a small part.

http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=200 [taxpolicycenter.org]

50k Pages of Tax Code (1)

cgfsd (1238866) | more than 3 years ago | (#38058862)

With over 50,000 pages of tax code, it is pretty obvious that nothing the IRS is going to do is going to be efficient. But I would suspect they believe in security through obscurity.

Re:50k Pages of Tax Code (0)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#38058960)

Also don't forget all sorts of other things that are taxes, that are not called taxes. Things like that 'xmas tree tax'. What that is, is a xmas tree growers association wants to do marketing of fresh real xmas trees that are grown locally in USA, so they want to run a campaign about it so people would be more inclined to buy US grown pines.

The majority of the growers are for this campaign, because the majority are large growers and it's their business. But when they decided to implement this campaign, they found that some of the growers don't want to pay for this campaign, they don't want the campaign.

So the heads of the association went to the Federal government in order for it to pass a law, that would REQUIRE every xmas tree grower to pay 15 cents to the association so that they all would 'pitch in'. But this means it's a tax by the federal government.

The gov't didn't pass this because it doesn't look good this time around and also because this money doesn't actually go to the government, it goes to the marketing campaign (and I guess if the money doesn't go to the government, they are less inclined to pass the law).

But look at the gall of this xmas tree growing association - they want to run a campaign, they want everybody who grows more than 500 trees in USA to pay the 15 cents and in order to have this campaign, they go to the federal government to have it pass a law that would put the gun to the head of all the growers, whether they want to do it or not, to have to pay this 15 cents tax.

And it is a tax, whether the money goes to the government or not, if it's enforced by the government, it's a tax.

If you don't agree to pay it, they'll take you to the court. Then they'll force you to pay it and they'll fine you and you'll have to pay the legal fees.

If you don't go or if you decide to protect your money from being taken away, they will send the police (FBI?) after you, and if you protect yourself from them with force, they'll shoot you, and if you don't get killed, you'll still go to jail.

THAT is what taxation is all about - force by the GUN to your HEAD by the government.

Whether this is done for the benefit of a private entity (like the xmas tree growing association) or whether this is done for the supposed benefit of say retirees or medicare recipients, it doesn't matter. All that the government is, it's a gun.

It's a gun and it's pointed at your head. Are you a free person or not, that's the question. The question is not - is IRS being efficient?

There shouldn't be an IRS.

Congratulations, GAO! (3, Funny)

Gravis Zero (934156) | more than 3 years ago | (#38058906)

GAO, you have just won a FREEEE AUDIT!!! :)

Re:Congratulations, GAO! (1)

Divide By Zero (70303) | more than 3 years ago | (#38058938)

Considering how few federal taxes the Legislative Branch pays, I doubt this will be a concern for them.

Just the rank & file federal employees. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38062376)

The IRS will retaliate by auditing random low-level rank & file federal employees at other agencies to make a point.

Same kind of thing as back in 1998-2000 when Microsoft was on trial for antitrust, and "lost" (not really lost much), all of a sudden there was a huge number of software license audits of small govt agencies all over the country (fed, state, local, and even independent school districts) that placed burdens on these small agencies to drop whatever they were doing, and cease all other business activity, dedicating *all* staff resources to the audit tasks until the audits were concluded.
Coincidence or Retaliation? You tell me.

india (3, Funny)

rim_namor (2454342) | more than 3 years ago | (#38059328)

just outsource the entire IRS IT stuff to India, I think that'll fix everything in a hurry.

Re:india (1)

BenEnglishAtHome (449670) | more than 3 years ago | (#38064012)

Believe me, there are people who are trying to do something very similar to that.

And then... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38059486)

Anonymous moves in. If that's even a thing, any more.

IRS has to much IT contract workers in 2007-08 (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 3 years ago | (#38059888)

And now where are they?

maybe it's time to move them in house get rid of the overhead and have so a IT worker has a boss on site and not one in a contractors office that is just a recruiter.

Funding?? (2)

CMYKjunkie (1594319) | more than 3 years ago | (#38060222)

I work for the government and thus know how horrible our IT is in general, but I find the typical reason is one word: FUNDING. yes, GAO can make fantastic recommendations that absolutely should be implemented. It's not that government staff is populated by buffoons or people who could care less about modern processes/equipment, security, privacy, etc etc etc. What typically happens is that recommendations, mandates, or best practices are given to the agency in question, but $0 are committed by the purse holders to make the changes required. So.... who is ultimately responsible for the implementation?

Re:Funding?? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38061684)

It's not that government staff is populated by buffoons or people who could care less about modern processes/equipment, security, privacy, etc etc etc.

I disagree. Almost a decade ago, I was walking through a shared datacenter in the Midwest and remarked to my host (a supervisor who worked there) that I thought it was incredibly insecure to have multiple customers' equipment in one common area without any sort of physical barrier between (nobody had their own cages). Supposedly a very senior network/server tech from the IRS was onsite and overheard my conversation as I walked by. He became so irate over my comment (not that it was true, but that I had said it) that I was eventually asked to leave. I was permanently banned from the datacenter. To this day, that place remains the only shared datacenter I've ever been in that did not have individual cages for each customer.

The only saving grace is that the government contractor I was working for decided to install a cage around their equipment. I don't know if my comments had anything to do with that, but I like to think so.

Who is responsible...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#38062518)

So.... who is ultimately responsible for the implementation?

Well, of course it's the government IT workers themselves!
After all, maybe if they would be able to argue their "business case" for sufficient funding to the purse holders a little better, they might get the funding actually approved.

I know that sounds like sarcastic humor, but I'm a govt IT worker too, and that's what we've been told... that we need to learn to come up with more convincing and compelling arguments else we'll always get our funding requests summarily dismissed.

Re:Funding?? (1)

nobodie (1555367) | more than 3 years ago | (#38080912)

Thank you for at least one informed opinion in contrast to foolish and foolhardy talk about the failure of government. What I see is that when you cripple government you play into the hands of big corporations (yes, the ones who happpily sell those "900 dollar toilet seats") because without government to regulate them and control them they are free to rape murder and pillage as they see fit. And now they are. Who is fracking our water supply into chemical sludge? The government? Who is convincing policy makers who work for them full time that they are "too big to fail?" The government? no, it is not a problem with big government. Or with government spending out of control. We spend less now than under Reagan, under Ford, Under Nixon or Eisenhower. And what do we get? the 1%. Congratulations Libertarians and right wing fools, you have succeeded in raping and pillaging yourself and your children, as well as mine, you go!

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