For a profession more hated than telemarketers and meter maids, last week the Internal Revenue Service put up a job ad that sounded so cool it even made Cockburn consider it.
The IRS is in the market for a Special Agent, specifically one that can fire a gun and is “willing to use deadly force if necessary,” for its law enforcement division, Criminal Investigation (CI). The agency is set to double in size and is recruiting more staff following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, a Democratic spending bill which President Biden is set to...

For a profession more hated than telemarketers and meter maids, last week the Internal Revenue Service put up a job ad that sounded so cool it even made Cockburn consider it.

The IRS is in the market for a Special Agent, specifically one that can fire a gun and is “willing to use deadly force if necessary,” for its law enforcement division, Criminal Investigation (CI). The agency is set to double in size and is recruiting more staff following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, a Democratic spending bill which President Biden is set to sign today.

The advertisement insisted that you will “combine your accounting skills with law enforcement skills to investigate financial crimes,” but Cockburn was soon out of the running when he read that there was a “level of fitness necessary to effectively respond to life-threatening situations on the job.” Damn.

To Cockburn’s surprise, soon after the job ad was put up, it was taken down temporarily and reworded to sound less James Bond and more Treasury Bond, with the “deadly force” line removed. Why? Because Twitter decided that when successfully apprehending a tax cheat in America, it’s fair only to employ kind words and encouragement.

While one tweeter compared the job ad to the genocidal murderers of “the SS,” others, such as Texas congressman Ronny Jackson, labeled it, “the weaponization of the Federal Government against the American people,” adding that, “Biden is building his own army to take what you have, by force if needed!!”

Another dispirited Twitter user claimed, “The government wants its IRS agents armed and its citizens disarmed. We’ll let everyone just marinate on that for a second.” Senator Ted Cruz tweeted: “Every Republican should pledge we WILL NOT FUND these 87k armed new IRS agents who will target the American people.”

Cockburn shares the valid concerns of the American people, and isn’t a fan of government overreach himself, but he believes that the hysteria surrounding the special agent job is somewhat misplaced. A number of people already serve in this exact role for the IRS. And according to the division’s 2019 report, this position has been around since the American federal tax authority was established in 1919 — only back then it was named the Intelligence Unit. This is the same division, led by Eliot Ness and his Untouchables, that took down gangster Al Capone, who was convicted on tax evasion charges. Cockburn can see why it would be helpful to be armed when confronting the most notorious gangster of the twentieth century.

It seems implausible that the Internal Revenue Service, flush with cash and weaponry, is set to storm every family home in the United States — how could they? There’s hardly any of them. In the division’s 2017 report, then-division chief Don Fort wrote, “We have the same number of special agents — around 2,200 — as we did fifty years ago.” In 2021, the latest report, there were even less at 2,046. The same report lists the entire IRS workforce at around 78,000. So to split hairs, this renders Senator Cruz’s claim of “87k armed new IRS agents” particularly deceptive. It’s 87,000 new jobs — not all of them will be armed special agents.

Cockburn believes that the core of the issue is that Americans are growing more and more concerned about government agencies being armed. And while Cockburn is far from in favor of increased government intervention, there appears to be mass hysteria about something that has been happening for the last 100 years. There are some simple solutions for this one: a stiff drink, log out of Twitter and of course, pay your taxes. Or get a good accountant.