The IRS running a Super Bowl ad? Might as well...
I have theoretical objections to sending out $300 and $600 checks to people, even if they don't pay a dime in federal income taxes. But what irks me even more is the amount of money that the IRS is spending on "getting the word out" about the checks. At this point, if you're too stupid to know that you have to file a tax return in order to get a check, you don't deserve one. Every media outlet has been beating this topic to death, telling everyone that even if you don't owe taxes, you must file a tax return to get a check. (There's really not anything confusing about that, is there?)
Yet the IRS spent $42 million of our hard earned money on sending out letters that say you might get a check. They spent our money on a stupid YouTube video to tell you that you might get a check. When all is said and done, the IRS will have spent $200 million just to publicize the program and process our checks.
What does $200 million get you? Seventy-four Super Bowl commercials, according to TaxGirl. That's a ton of money to spend on such a program. Some of us might suggest it just makes more sense to quit taxing us so much in the first place. But this feeble attempt at income redistribution (giving checks to those who don't deserve them because they haven't paid income taxes in the first place) is merely a feel-good tactic during an election year. I predict it will have little real impact on our economy.
Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.