Unbridled Power: Inside the Secret Culture of the IRS

Front Cover
HarperBusiness, 1997 - Political Science - 284 pages
The Internal Revenue Service is the most ubiquitous and powerful government agency in the United States. Wielding more power than the FBI or the CIA, it can search and seize property without a warrant, launch investigations of people based on their beliefs, and audit citizens relentlessly without just cause. Congress fears it, and not even the White House can control it.

"Unbridled Power" reveals the shocking incompetence at the heart of this agency. Written by Shelley Davis, who became the first official historian of the IRS in 1988 and held the post for seven years, it exposes:

The IRS's routine -- and illegal -- practice of destroying its own files so that it can't be held accountable for its activities during such national scandals as Watergate

The culture of secrecy within the IRS, and why it fears public scrutiny

The fact that the IRS still uses computers from the 1960s, even though it has since spent billions on modernizing its systems for processing returns

The practice of addressing problems by forming new staff offices to create the illusion of responsiveness, only to disband them when they too are criticized or when the problem goes away

The lack of ethical behavior and abuse of power by IRS bureaucrats

"Unbridled Power" may be history's only firsthand account of the scandalous behavior of the IRS. When the author resigned in outrage in December 1995, the agency quickly abolished the historian's job so that never again could an outsider catalog its historical records or chronicle its past."Every self-respecting IRS basher will have to have a copy on the bookshelf."--Mike McNamee, "Business Week"

"A scathing book about the IRS." "--NewYork Times"

"A chilling expos_ of the inside workings at the agency everybody loves to hate." "--Fortune"

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - AJBraithwaite - LibraryThing

An extremely well-written combination of history book and hard-hitting exposť of a deeply ethically-challenged organisation: the Internal Revenue Service of the IRS. Davis's style is accessible ... Read full review

Unbridled power: inside the secret culture of the IRS

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Davis was the IRS's first--and last--official historian. Here she provides more fuel for the ire of those who hate the IRS. She reveals some of the history she uncovered, including inept restructuring ... Read full review


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