Tax Administration as Inquisitorial Process and the Partial Paradigm Shift in the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998




Camp, Bryan T.

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Florida Law Review


In this Article, Professor Camp pursues three goals. The first is to describe and justify the inquisitorial nature of tax administration. He offers the conception of tax administration as two related but distinct functions: tax determination and tax collection, both of which employ inquisitorial processes. He then suggests that the justification for the use of these processes lies in the government's need for information to ensure that all taxpayers pay their "proper" tax and thereby encourage voluntary compliance. His second goal is to show how certain procedural provisions in the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 reflect Congressional ignorance of the basic inquisitorial process paradigm under which the Internal Revenue Service (the Service) has operated; the new statutes instead link to a conception of tax administration as primarily adversarial. In a fundamental way, the so-called "reforms" of the RRA 98 are bottomed on a paradigm in significant tension with the paradigm underlying prior law. This tension has already created a practical uncertainty in procedural matters and will likely create more as both the Service and the courts struggle to execute and interpret the new laws. Finally, he hopes to convince the reader that discussion of tax administration should not be so much about "customer service" versus "tax enforcement" models of administration, but should instead focus on the degree to which tax administration should or should not be inquisitorial.



Inquisitorial process, Voluntary compliance, Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998


56 Fla. L. Rev. 1