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The IRS Shows Its Guns

The Internal Revenue Service recently advertised some job opportunities. One of the “Major Duties” caught the eye of many commentators: 

“Carry a firearm and be willing to use deadly force, if necessary.” 

Presumably because of the uproar, the IRS deleted that line

I rarely think of the Internal Revenue Service as a “service”: when it takes my money, I don’t think the agency is serving me. But in this case, it really did perform a service: It reminded us of who its agents are and of the fact that they are willing to use deadly force “if necessary.” 

Various other commenters have noted that this is not something new. For many years, the IRS has had about 2,000 agents who carry guns and are willing to use deadly force. I knew that. Maybe you knew that. But a lot of people probably didn’t. 

Unfortunately, it makes sense. When the federal government has an agency that takes about $2.3 trillion in individual income taxes, well over $1 trillion in payroll taxes, and almost $400 billion in corporate income taxes in a year, it needs to have people willing to use guns. 

When I’ve explained to people that the federal government threatens to use force to collect, and that this ultimately means that it is willing to resort to using guns on U.S. citizens, a reaction I often get is “You’re exaggerating.” I’ve always known that I'm not. Now many more people know it also. 

When people advocate higher taxes, they often say the government is “asking” us to pay more taxes. Well, it's not. If you’re asked to do something, you’re free to say no. But the federal government isn’t asking; it’s telling. It’s saying, “Pay up or else.” The ad for agents willing to use deadly force is a reminder of that fact.