Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Letters to the Commissioner

In 1961, IRS Commissioner Mortimer Caplin wrote a letter to the American taxpayer, which was sent with the year’s tax return forms.  It said, 
Oliver Wendell Holmes, one of our Nation’s greatest judges, once wrote-“Taxes are what we pay for civilized society… .” Later, in saying he liked to pay taxes, he did not mention whether his enthusiasm included the filling out of tax forms. But we all know that the forms as well as the taxes are necessary for the kind of orderly government which will preserve America and its way of life. I therefore urge you to prepare your returns carefully and early… . After we receive your return, it is our duty to examine it for accuracy and completeness. … Most taxpayers are able, with the enclosed instructions, to prepare their own returns. If, however, you have questions, you may telephone or visit the nearest Internal Revenue office. An employee there will be glad to help you. Mortimer M. Caplin, 
Commissioner of Internal Revenue.
I came across this letter together with a few of the more interesting responses in a 1963 book by Lillian Doris entitled “The American Way in Taxation.” Here are a couple of the responses that struck me as worthy of note:
Dear Sir: You have presumed to tell me how I should feel about taxes. In turn, I would advise you to apply yourself to your unpleasant occupation and let the taxpayer form his own opinions. Yours, —- Inglewood, Calif. 

Dear Sir: In your personal letter to the taxpayers your quotation from Oliver Wendell Holmes is a deceitful attempt to lull the tax payer into joyfully accepting his obligation to pay confiscatory 1961 Federal Taxes. The great chief justice died in 1935 long before our Federal Government placed almost unbearable burdens of taxation upon our people. If he had lived to see the Government spend our tax money on plans to send men to the moon and other equally worthless projects he would not have liked to paid taxes either. Sincerely, —- New York, NY.

I consent to your findings and apologize for lax
In erring on my income tax
Whatever the rebate “modern style,”

I wait abated, with a smile-
To enrich the locals with my hard earned jack-
‘Cause eventually, you all will get it back. —-


Dear Mr. Director: Enclosed you will find my Income Tax Return for 1961 together with my check for the amount shown as due. You will observe that I am paying $285 taxes for this year. As a taxpayer of substance I feel that I should be in a position to make a request as to the spending of my money and hope you will concur. Will you please see that the total money which I have paid goes to a “Friendly Nation.” Kodiak, Alaska —-

Dear Commissioner, I love you, love you, love you I knew it yesterday when I received you latest letter wherein you stated that I’d been selected for a pre- refund audit. It’s like an engagement, isn’t it? True, we have only been penpals since sometime in March but I can’t deny my heart. The snows were still piled high in the roadways. The peaks were white all the way down their jagged slopes when I first went to place my dowry at your feet. After a number of your letters I still was not about to be swayed by your reconsiderations. Like any woman I was only interested in how much you could give me. You were adamant, relentless and still you pursued me and now you have won. I don’t care one iota what you can give me. You see I am in love with you. I’m yours. Take me. My days are magic and full of hope. I await the mailman with the 11 o’clock post; my nights are only a little lonely because I know someone really cares-that’s the glory of true love-my dearest. I must run now, dear one, but keep your letters coming. Let’s hope your father-what’s his name-Audit Division-approves of our plans. Love and Kisses

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