Texas Republican Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz took a page out of former Texas Republican Congressman Ron Paul’s playbook and called for ending the Internal Revenue Service.
Speaking at a campaign launch last month on a college campus, the rookie senator said the federal government needs to abolish the IRS, and it “ain’t all that tough.” Cruz has previously called for ending the tax-collecting agency for quite a while, and his pleas date back all the way to 2013.
Cruz spoke at Heritage Action’s 2015 conservative policy summit in January and purported that the single greatest policy reform that needs to transpire in Washington is the dismantling of the IRS.
“The last two years have fundamentally changed the dynamics of this debate [on the tax code],” he said at the time. “As we have seen the weaponization of the IRS, as we have seen the Obama administration using the IRS in a partisan manner to punish its political enemies.”
Although many would celebrate at the thought of eradicating the much detested federal department, experts argue that it isn’t a feasible or even practical idea, especially if you’re a country that is still going to be collecting federal taxes.
Since the IRS collects more than $2.4 trillion each year and maintains a 100,000-member workforce to enforce the tax code, the IRS couldn’t really be abolished, says Chris Edwards, who leads the conservative Cato Institute’s tax policy studies.
“If you’re going to have federal taxes, you need an agency to collect them,” said Edwards.
Of course, Senator Cruz isn’t the only Republican to call for getting rid of the IRS. Kentucky Republican Senator and possible 2016 presidential contender Rand Paul has been actively requesting Washington to eviscerate the federal agency.
“It’s our time to exercise our right to abolish the IRS and preserve our liberty,” Paul said.
Potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate Ben Carson wants the White House to simplify the tax code and if that includes eliminating the IRS then it needs to be done.
What does IRS Commissioner John Koskinen think of these comments? Well, according to Koskinen, “politics is politics.” The IRS chief spoke at the National Press Club on Tuesday and noted that there will still be some sort of agency that will collect taxes. He said in jest that officials can call the IRS a different name if it wanted to.
“It is interesting to me. When you say you’re going to abolish the IRS and everybody will fill out a small card, somebody has to collect the money,” averred Koskinen. “You could call them something other than the IRS if that made you feel better.”
Koskinen posited that the frustration with the IRS more has to do with the intricate tax code. “I think that’s a lot of what’s behind, you know, ‘get rid of the IRS.’ It’s really ‘get rid of this complicated tax code.’ And to that extent, I think that’s a reasonable goal.”
He also discussed the $1.2 billion worth of budget cuts over the past five years and confirmed that the IRS has been experiencing many problems as of late. Koskinen warned that it could harm its customer service and hiring initiatives.
“The underfunding of the agency is the most critical challenge facing the IRS today,” Koskinen said in a speech. “As the serious ramifications of five years of budget cuts become increasingly visible, I don’t want anyone to say that we didn’t warn you in advance.”
Considering that three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul didn’t gain much traction in the mainstream with his suggestions to abolish the IRS, many still say it’s unlikely Washington would rid the United States of the taxman.
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