TAXES: The IRS's $287 Billion Man

When Donald Crichton Alexander was sworn in as Internal Revenue Commissioner in mid-1973, he inherited an agency that was rapidly dropping in public prestige. Watergate-related revelations of attempted political misuse of the IRS were eroding the awed deference that Americans have traditionally felt toward their revenue-collection agency, inspiring Government fears of a binge of cheating by suddenly cynical taxpayers. Alexander acknowledged that maintaining public confidence in the agency was his "No. 1" task.

That task has yet to be completed.

This year taxpayers rushing to beat the April 15 filing deadline and finish paying an...

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