After Joe Stack crashed a plane into an IRS building in Austin, his daughter called him a "hero." I don't think he's a hero ... but after my own audit, I can relate with many of his frustrations.
Guest blogger Diane: After Joe Stack crashed his plane into an IRS building in Austin -- killing himself and another person -- his daughter, Samantha Bell, said he acted as a "hero" who was trying to call attention to an unjust government.
Bell acknowledged that Stack's actions were "inappropriate," but said that at least now, "people will listen."
I doubt anyone will.
When you encounter a shady auditor (like I did), you feel more like you're dealing with the Mob than with a government employee. But you know you can't complain or they will just go after you harder next year.
That said, I would never even consider an act of violence or anything like Joe Stack did. I just took my lumps and moved on. But when I read Stack's suicide note, I could relate with some of his feelings of frustration at the IRS.
Is he a hero? No way. He murdered an innocent person: Vernon Hunter, a Vietnam vet who didn't deserve to die. No matter what, that is not okay.
I too wish the IRS could be overhauled. But I don't think Stack's actions will make one bit of difference. By taking such drastic, horrific measures, he will simply be labeled a quack and a killer. His mercenary mission will not result in one single change, I'm afraid.
Stack wrote, "Here we have a [tax] system that is, by far, too complicated for the brightest of the master scholars to understand. Yet, it mercilessly 'holds accountable' its victims, claiming that they're responsible for fully complying with laws not even the experts understand. The law 'requires' a signature on the bottom of a tax filing; yet no one can say truthfully that they understand what they are signing; if that`s not 'duress' [then] what is. If this is not the measure of a totalitarian regime, nothing is."
I know that when I was audited, the auditor kept saying, "You signed your return" -- as if I had committed fraud. But I had put my fate in the hands of a highly paid accountant. If the accountant screwed up (which she did), I would have no way of knowing this! She was actiing as if I were some sort of scammer, when I am actually an honest, tax-paying citizen who is barely making ends meet and just trying to provide for her kids.
Stack concluded his manifesto with: "I have had all I can stand." My audit was one of the worst things to ever happen in my life, other than my mom dying. Someone compared it to having an autopsy while you're still living. I agree with that. I will be paying off my debt for years and years and years, and honestly will always live in fear of the IRS and another audit.
When I was a teenager, my orthodontist had a lot of tax troubles. He was a father of a 3-year-old girl. We had to make out our checks to the IRS, not him. One day, he parked his car on the train tracks and waited to be hit by a locomotive. He too had had all he could stand, but thankfully he didn't take an innocent person with him.
Do I think Joe Stack is a hero? No way. But I do hope that the IRS can be fixed.
IRS: Stop wasting your time on the little guys, and instead focus on the rich and the corporations -- who should be your primary focus anyway. Leave us honest, tax-paying middle-class citizens alone.