John Oliver Explains Why We Shouldn’t Hate the IRS

John Oliver Explains Why We Shouldn’t Hate the IRS

By Yuval Rosenberg

Everyone hates the IRS. Even the mothers of its agents hate the tax-collection agency. And that sentiment rises to new levels around this time of year.

On his HBO show last night, John Oliver said those feeling are only natural: “Is it any wonder that everyone hates the IRS?” he said. “Dealing with them is obligatory. It often functions badly. And it combines two of the things we hate most in life: someone taking our money and math.”

Still, Oliver went on to “attempt the impossible”: making viewers feel at least a smidgen of sympathy for the tax man — and explaining why our widespread hatred may be misguided. It’s Congress, after all, that writes the tax code. And it’s Congress that has made it harder for the agency to do its job by cutting the IRS budget from $13.4 billion in 2010 to $10.9 billion this year. As BusinessWeek just said in its latest cover story, "if you think paying your taxes is bad, try working at America's most unloved agency."

Related: IRS Says Budget Cuts Could Bilk Billions from Taxpayers

“I’m not saying the IRS is a likeable organization,” Oliver said. “But not everything that’s important is likeable. Think of our government as a body. The IRS is the anus. It’s nobody’s favorite part. But you need that thing working properly…”

It’s not that we should love the IRS, or even like them, Oliver said. But the agency deserves “a few minutes of at least grudging acknowledgment of the unpleasant, necessary function they serve.” And to provide that, Oliver brought on the singer who might be even more despised than IRS: Michael Bolton.

Watch the segment below (warning: it includes HBO-appropriate language):

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