Tax Collection and Enforcement in the Modern US
This chapter analysis cultures of acceptance, and enforcement, that surround self-assessment in the US. It considers role of self-assessment in the problems faced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The context of tax collection in the modem US is far removed from the theories of E. R. A. Seligman. He criticized methods of enforcement which were inaccurate, or overly harsh, yet he advocated vigilance. The chapter considers the theory of 'rough justice', whereby the US IRS and US Congress deliberately construct vague rules which permit a mild form of 'cheating', and whereby US taxpayers gladly participate in self-assessment in return for the opportunity to 'cheat'. It explores the uses and abuses of the auditing process as the foundation of US enforcement of self-assessment receive attention. Auditors and tax collectors are allocated a large degree of discretion in their dealings with the public; more so than the actual figures relating to audits and taxpayer challenges would suggest.