I also agree with a brilliant colleague who recently put it to me this way: The IRS is broken, that’s for sure. But the IRS is a symptom. The “disease” is the tax code. I think that’s absolutely right. And for me, this latest “scandal” concerning the IRS is going to make it impossible to reform our tax code anytime soon.
It’s already sucking the oxygen out of Washington. And tax reform is hard; it involves picking winners and losers. Politicians don’t like publicly picking winners and losers, which is inevitable at least somewhat in tax reform. They like picking winners and losers behind closed doors. But picking on the IRS? No danger there. Give them a choice between something hard and something that will cost them nothing politically, and I think we all know where the politicians will go.
I can tell you what they do talk about over here: FATCA. FATCA is a game changer, and with its negatives it will bring a great positive: increased transparency. Transparency is good for a tax system, and that makes things like advanced pricing agreements bad for tax systems.
Only the United States could have imposed FATCA on the tax systems of other countries. The United States has the power – read markets – to do it. And that is a huge reason why the United States should put some of its power into dealing with its own sick tax code and it’s own transparency issues. “Because with great power comes responsibility.” A lot of famous people get credit for that quote. But it sure sounds like something Winston Churchill would have said.
Perhaps Brockers might want to give Tax Notes Today editor Christopher Bergin a piece of their minds.