With the tax season upon us, the Internal Revenue Service has been pledging to a skeptical public that, this year, it will be more efficient and "customer-friendly" than ever before.
Well, for about a million Americans, the agency is already off a terrible start. Packets of 1040 and other forms sent to taxpayers on the East and West coasts contain incorrect return address labels.
People who try to use the stick-on, pre-printed label to send their returns back to the IRS will have them returned to sender instead.
This is because the bar codes, which the Postal Service's processing machines read, contains the taxpayers' zip codes, not the IRS'.
In keeping with the longstanding IRS tradition of never taking blame for its own mistakes -- while never absolving taxpayers of blame for theirs -- red-faced agency officials claim the error is the printing contractor's.
Isn't pointing the finger elsewhere typical of government bureaucracies? If it's taxpayer money, the buck stops at the IRS. But if it's an IRS mistake, the buck is passed on to somebody else.
If there are more IRS foul-ups heading toward the April 15 tax deadline -- and we're sure there will be -- watch public sentiment build to replace the existing archaic tax code with a new and fairer tax system for a new millennium -- a system without an IRS.