If you missed the first three articles you can find them here, here and here. Part four is without question my favorite. As I get older, history becomes more important. Much can be learned from writings of the time. Newspapers are a wonderful source. It is an adventure to read conflicting articles on the same subject but they come from different viewpoints. There is much to be learned from the lowly newspaper.

I really like this story from Wayne Vinson.

A guy owned a small, weekly newspaper. He had a couple of employees from whose wages he withheld income and Social Security tax—a typical situation. At some point the newspaper began to lose money and the owner began to use the tax money to pay bills, instead of turning it in to the government as required.

A revenue officer in my group had the case, and it was kind of sensitive, because the newspaper was the only paper in town. The taxpayer had just one asset worth seizing: he owned one copy of every newspaper that the company had published since its beginning. I don’t remember how far back in time those papers went, but I do remember that the company preceded the Civil War.

Amazingly, the newspapers were all in good shape, but they had to be handled carefully. We decided to store them at the IRS office, which was in the same town as the newspaper. So the revenue officer and I made several trips, hauling all those papers from the newspaper office to our office. Boy, we were careful. I like history and I confess I spent some time perusing the first few editions. Imagine reading an article about the Civil War, written while it was happening.

The property was not perishable, so what we were gonna have was a normal personal property sale. But one day before the date of sale, a friend loaned the taxpayer the money to pay off the tax. The taxpayer was a really nice guy and we were glad to cancel the sale. Some potential bidders showed up the next day and we had to disappoint them.

All I can say is that I am in envy. Wayne got to see newspapers that I would have loved to have looked over. Of course I would have read the lead stories, but in many ways it would have been the minor stuff and adverts that I would have loved.

I do hope that they are still in good hands and being treated with the respect they are due.

Wayne Vinson was an IRS agent for 33 years and the author of a real thriller, Tax Collectors and Other Sinners, the story of a psycho killing tax collectors. It is available at amazon.com as an E-book or soft cover.

Simon Barrett

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