One of the loathsome side effects of the byzantine and corrupt American income tax system has been the proliferation of scams in which someone calls a taxpayer claiming to be from the Internal Revenue Service demanding extra money. Many people are so terrified of the tax man that they will fork over immediately. The Wall Street Journal reports the welcome news that several of these tax scam call centers, located in India ironically, have been raided by local police and the employees arrested.

Note, that when the IRS reaches out to make your life a living hell, they start with sternly worded letters.

If the gentle reader gets a phone call from someone claiming to work for the IRS and demanding money over the phone, hang up and report the incident. That person is a scam artist trying to separate you from your hard-earned money as opposed to a government bureaucrat trying to separate you from your cash.

An entire industry, legitimate and not, has arisen as a result of the difficulty of complying with the tax code. Businesses hire battalions of lawyers and accountants to allow them to pay the least amount of taxes possible, as the recent kerfuffle over Donald Trump being able to use a nearly $1 billion loss to avoid paying taxes demonstrates.

Even ordinary Americans will have to buy software or use an accountant to figure out whether they’ve paid every penny the IRS demands. Even then a number of people every year get hammered by demands for more money plus interest and penalties, which has given rise to companies that help people embroiled in disputes with the tax man, for a small fee of course.

Needless to say, the IRS spends a lot of money on an army of auditors and enforcers, the better to shake down taxpayers.

The situation in which the act of complying with the tax code is as expensive and aggravating as paying taxes cries out for tax simplification. A flat tax with limited deductions and credits would make the tax code fairer and less onerous. The idea has been around for decades, so why hasn’t the government enacted such a system? Could it be that having a complicated tax system backed up by an agency more feared than the Gestapo or the KGB is just a little too convenient for people in power?

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