National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson today released her 2010 Annual Report to Congress, which lists the twenty-one most serious problems encountered by taxpayers (as required by § 7803(c)(2)(B)(ii)(III)) (Via Taxprof and Prof. Reynolds)

Read it and weep.

The tax code is so Byzantine that the phrase “tax code” has come to imply “encryption”. IRS employees are American citizens — or, at least, so they claim. It’s doubtful. Free American citizens doing a necessary job would have long ago complained to their employers that they were being instructed to do things no person of good intent would do. At the very least, they would have protested that the laws they were expected to enforce were so complex and self-contradictory as to make the job impossible.

What they have done instead is pounce upon the situation with great glee. No one who has ever had any significant interaction with an IRS agent can fail to notice the smug self-righteousness that lies under their demands that the taxpayer must jump at the mere mention of batracians, then beg the Holy Fed for a declaration that it was high enough — an assurance that is rarely forthcoming. On top of that, instead of demanding that the code be simple enough to enforce fairly, they have won an exemption — taxpayers are expected to know the law and comply with it, but IRS agents are not.

This is the behavior of enforcer-goons, who delight in defining the orders of their bosses as coming from Higher Authority because it gives them an excuse to oppress their victims. It allows them to be petty tyrants, secure in the knowledge that if you cross them an even meaner set of goons is ready, willing, and able to get on your case. They are no different, morally, from the Republican Guards of Iran, who stone adulteresses with unfeigned delight, secure in the knowledge that their tyrannical bosses approve.

Here is the basic limitation to the use of force to establish “social justice”. In order to level the society, those with advantages (whether good fortune or superior ability) must be reduced to the level of the less advantaged, and that requires a goon squad to do the reducing. Sadly enough, it is clear everywhere around the world that it is easy to recruit goons regardless of the Cause for which they putatively work. That’s because goons don’t work for the Cause. They work for themselves, getting satisfaction from their ability to lord it over the oppressed.

Americans who believe in Liberty and the Constitution aren’t goons. The IRS, like many enforcement agencies, has become infested with goons. The sad thing is that so many people are willing to establish goon squads to enforce their vision of society.