This story was mentioned in the first article about retired IRS agent, Wayne Vinson. Although parts of the story have elements of humor, it also shows a darker side. The scales of justice do not always tip in they should. In Wanes own words:

I had an income tax account on a self employed painter I’ll call Joe. Joe was a chronic tax delinquent-we’d had tax accounts on him for years. Joe was a big guy who just didn’t think he should pay taxes. He was antagonistic, belligerent, and totally uncooperative. Our procedure was this: If a taxpayer said he could not fully pay the tax we would ask for financial information. If he would fully cooperate-give info, sign the form(s), etc.)-we would ask for full payment if he was able to do that without hardship, or we would make a payment agreement (so much a month), or we would report the case “not currently collectible.”

Uncollectible meant the taxpayer really could not pay anything on the tax now-a true hardship situation. So after supervisory approval, the case went into the uncollectible file and we had no further responsibility. To use your words, we “got off the taxpayer’s back.” The case might stay in uncollectible status until the collection statute ran out-then the taxpayer was home free, did not owe the tax anymore. The collection statute was 6 years, then was changed to l0 years in the 1980s I believe.

If the revenue officer thought the taxpayer could pay in the future, he would ask for a mandatory follow-up on a future date. And he would put an income code on the uncollectible report, so that if the taxpayer had future income of so much, the case would come out automatically.

But Joe refused to give information so I had to chase him and try to collect. He had no employer so I couldn’t levy (garnishee) his wages. So I typed up a levy form and left the name on whom it would be served blank-I could put the name on the form if I could find Joe on a painting job. Sure enough, I saw him painting a big house in a small town. Joe was on the front porch when I pulled in and probably saw me. But the back of the house looked to be the common entrance, so I walked back there and rang the doorbell. Rang it repeatedly, knocked loudly, hoping to be able to serve my levy on the person who probably owed Joe for the painting job. Nobody came and I supposed they weren’t home.

Walking back to my car I decided to try again to collect from Joe-maybe a partial payment on the account-maybe he would pay it all. Joe was still on the large front porch, painting window frames with a brush. But there was a paint sprayer right by the porch with a gun and a long hose, and the sprayer was running. I started up the steps to the porch and said, “Joe.”

Joe put his paint brush down carefully, and then he charged me, picking up the sprayer gun as he went by. I ran down the steps and across the front yard.

Joe came after me, spraying my back and head-the man could run. He ran out of hose and threw the gun down and started hitting me, my head, my neck. I thought He’s gonna try to kill me. So I stopped and turned around and for a few seconds we were flailing away at each other, not doing much damage.

As if by mutual consent, we stopped and stepped back, and Joe said, “If you ever come around here again, I’ll beat you to death.” Then he walked back to the house and his job. I wiped myself off as best I could and got in my car and left. I found a phone booth, called my supervisor, and reported the assault. That evening Special Agents (Intelligence guys) arrested Joe at home and he spent one night in jail.

It made the news. I got a few articles from around the country. The headline above one said, “Give him another coat, Joe.”

It was a Federal crime. An assistant US attorney handled the case for IRS.

Joe was charged with assaulting an IRS agent in the performance of his duty. Nothing happened for several months. It was finally heard before a Federal Judge. The assistant US attorney was the only one there for the government and he clearly did not make a strong case. The taxpayer told some lies and half truths and the judge believed him. The charge was reduced from assault to intimidating a federal officer. The judge gave Joe a short, suspended, meaningless sentence.

By the time the case was heard I had been promoted to supervisor in another area. I never heard whether or not Joe paid his tax.

This event occurred many years ago, I am certain that such egregious behavior today would not be treated as lightly.

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 as an E-book or soft cover.

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