Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Donald Rumsfeld's Letter to the IRS: My Taxes Are a Known Unknown

Tax | Permalink


Isn't Mr. Rumsfeld's ire directed at the wrong party? As a seasoned political player, he should know the IRS doesn't write tax law - it only administers and enforces the law. Instead, Mr. & Mrs. Rumsfeld should write their annual tax love letter to the creators and curators of our tax quagmire - Congress and the President.

Posted by: a similarly confused taxpayer | Apr 17, 2014 8:16:57 AM

His ire is misdirected. It should be at his representatives in Congress. The IRS is only the messenger. Of course the IRS, which is certainly a bureacracy, may be difficult to deal with, they have no ability to change the tax code or make it more simple. That power rests with Congress. The IRS often takes the brunt of the "everyman's" anger when that anger should be directed at Congress.

Posted by: texcap | Apr 17, 2014 7:54:08 AM

Rummy's "get out of jail free" card? But seriously, no one--not CPAs, tax lawyers, IRS technical specialists, nor congressional tax writers or even TAXPROFS--understands all the nuances of the Internal Revenue Code. That is a shame, because the code should be more comprehensible to everyone. We could go a long way toward this by returning the Code to a statutory codification intended to raise sufficient revenue for the modern state. Or we could change to a consumption tax. While I would prefer the latter, I would be moderately happy with the former.

Posted by: Publius Novus | Apr 17, 2014 7:04:49 AM

Similar to what FDR did for 1937 returns. See Amity Shlaes' "The Forgotten Man" for a photocopy. Pull quote on description:

"Inconsistent. Justice Department attorneys and Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau refused to accept good intentions as an excuse from a target when it came to tax return accuracy. In this letter, which accompanied the president's 1937 return, Roosevelt suggests that good intentions suffice in his own case. {FDR Library]"

Posted by: John P. Squibob | Apr 16, 2014 8:31:20 AM

the IRS people don't understand it either

Posted by: xxx | Apr 16, 2014 6:46:12 AM

Is there any tension between the statements in this letter and the representation to which he and his wife signed their names at the end of their 1040? Is having "absolutely no idea" about the accuracy of his return consistent with the forms being true, correct and complete to the "best of [his] knowledge and belief"? As a logical matter it could be, but it's a bit awkward.

Posted by: ATH | Apr 16, 2014 6:31:42 AM