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‘I tried to pay my taxes in cash:’ Business scholar details ordeal of dealing with IRS

As tax day nears, one business professor recently detailed his journey to try to pay the Internal Revenue Service – in cash.

Professor Jay Zagorsky is writing a book about the use of cash and “wondered how difficult it is for the unbanked to pay taxes,” referring to people without banking accounts.

“The IRS certainly doesn’t make it easy to do so,” the Boston University professor wrote at The Conversation.

Multiple IRS employees tried to discourage him along the way from paying in cash. He had to make a specific appointment with the tax agency to pay his bill in cash.

He wrote:

I made it to the IRS building, went through airport-style screening and checked in on time. The receptionist was polite and again told me all the ways to pay without cash. After I declined, he asked me to take a seat in the waiting area filled with people clutching paperwork. As I walked away, the receptionist did a facepalm while shaking his head, which was not a positive sign.

Zagorsky eventually had to come back, because a courier was not available to take the cash immediately to the bank. “I came back a week later when another cash payer was showing up. This time I had more success. It took 30 minutes, but after completing a multipart carbon form by hand, I got a receipt that said my taxes were paid.”

He said the federal government could easily make it possible for individuals to pay taxes in cash, since some banks are already approved to accept tax payments.

“The law doesn’t specify payment only by check or other methods,” he wrote. “This means if procedures existed, taxpayers could walk into major banks, hand the teller cash and have the bank inform the IRS of the amount paid.”

“If the government wants everyone to pay their taxes, why doesn’t it make it as easy as possible?” he concluded.

Read the essay.

IMAGE: Boston University

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