The small bronze letters on the outside of the seven-story neoclassical building on Constitution Avenue spell out the following:
ERNAL REVEN E SE VICE
Despite the missing characters, the second two words are teased out easily enough: REVENUE SERVICE. But the first word is puzzling. ETERNAL REVENUE SERVICE? PATERNAL REVENUE SERVICE? INFERNAL REVENUE SERVICE? Perhaps all of the above?
Inside, purposeful people stride down endless hallways, past frosted-glass doors with signs denoting COLLECTION, AUDITING, INFORMATION--and one that reads OFFICE OF ACCURACY AND PERFECTION, ROOM 7513. But within the empire of the largest and most successful tax and enforcement agency in history,...