Above the Line

Surprise! IRS Continues to use illegal designations

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Breaking news over at Tax Prof Blog: Despite Congressional orders to the contrary, the IRS still labels people as ‘Tax Protester,’ ‘Constitutionally Challenged,’ and the like. Congress’ concern was that people so labeled would have a stigma attached to them, and so, in 1998 prohibited the use of such terms. In a recent report, TIGTA indicated that 196 out of 80 million returns still used the label (a small, small number, to be sure, but still…).

On the other hand, many tax protesters are not shy about sharing their views with anyone who will listen, and many who are trapped against a wall at a dinner party with no escape route. I have met several over the years, and it was all I could do to get away from them. So how the IRS attaching or not attaching a label adds or prevents a stigma from attaching is unclear to me. People who are fervently anti-tax aren’t afraid of the stigma; if they were, they wouldn’t be publishing websites, books and pamphlets. Besides, these people are like other extremists – they find their audience, and spend much of their time preaching to the choir. I’d guess in those instances, a label from the IRS would be a badge of honor, not shame.


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