An Open Letter to Our Customers, from the Infernal Revenue Service

Dear Taxpayer:

In recent years the IRS has received some bad publicity for a number of apparent errors in judgment. While the occasional minor public- relations blunder is inevitable in any organization as large as the IRS, nevertheless it's important for taxpayers to realize that we try very hard to be as fair and accurate as possible, given the constraints under which we must operate.

Perhaps you remember the time we seized the savings account of a ten-year-old girl to pay her dad's tax bill. Or maybe you recall how we once held an entire day-care center hostage and forced parents to sign promissory notes before picking up their children.

And then there was the time we refused to pay a refund because we insisted that the taxpayer in question was deceased, even after she showed up in person. And how about the businessman who was forced to commit suicide so his wife could collect insurance money to finance a court battle with the Service -- a battle which eventually proved that they never owed the $300,000 we ordered them to pay.

Yes, it's true that in the past we've sometimes demonstrated what could only be regarded as a bully mentality. Furthermore, this pattern is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. But we want you to know -- it's nothing personal.

If we've improperly seized your bank account or sold your home, we're really sorry. If we've defied court orders, picked locks, stolen records, tapped phones, made threats, or opened and read your personal mail, we're really, really sorry.

Please -- try to see it from our point of view. We have to make an example of certain people, so that others will continue to pay their fair share. We have to plant the fear. Otherwise, the whole system would break down.

Of course, we could spend millions of taxpayer dollars on advertisements saying, "Fear the IRS -- Pay Your Taxes". But it wouldn't be nearly as cost-effective as a few carefully chosen human interest stories, leaked right before April 15th.

So, if you think the incidents listed above were "mistakes", you could be making a big mistake.