Maybe I travel in restricted circles, but I am the only person I know who finds this interesting (link):
The Internal Revenue Service’s Private Debt Collection program is on track to exceed revenue expectations while costing less than originally believed, according to an IRS Oversight Board briefing dated April 30.
Private collection agencies (PCAs) collected $19.47 million in gross revenues as of April 19, with $15.57 million considered commissionable revenue and which resulted in $3.2 million in payments to the PCAs. This compares with the projected range for revenue at the end of April of between $15.05 million and $20.69 million.
Original projections for gross revenue by the Office of Tax Analysis called for the collection of $1.4 billion over 10 years; the board briefing states the program “is tracking toward the higher end of the projections,” and may net as much as $1.8 billion by the year 2017.
Yields have met or exceeded projections in five of the seven months since the program began, the board states in its briefing.
You can guess why I care? Good, I thought you could. The point is that tax-collection is about as much a “core function” of government as you can imagine. We have private cops, private judges, private armies—but when we privatize the function of tax collection, there really isn’t much left to do.
The topic has not gone completely unnoticed—hey, there is a Wiki article (link), two whole paragraphs, about one twentieth the space given to the Dungeons & Dragons (link). Wiki, on whose authority I do not know, declares that “tax farming is not identifcal to privatised (sic) tax collection” (link). I assume “tax farming” smacks too much of declining empiress, and in particular, of St. Matthew in the Bible—a general index of decline. Tax farming, we are told (id.):
…is speculative, meaning that the private individual or group must invest their own money initially to pay off the tax debt, against the hope of collecting a larger sum subsequently (hence "farming").
Well, sure, but any good lawyer will tell you it is not a big step from buying the contract and taking the case on a contingent fee, which is pretty much what the IRS tax fa, er, contracting parties do.
Critics, with Biblical images dancing in their heads, tend to think of tax farming as somehow a cause of social decline. I’d say it is less a cause than an index. If you privatize the police, the judging, the army, and tax collection, there’s not much left of the empire anyway, so it doesn’t really matter whether it declines or not.