Lloyd Omdahl: More complaining about taxes

For an agency that touches thousands of people, the Tax Department has been a well-managed unit of government for over 50 years. Among its commissioners were former United States Senators Heidi Heitkamp, Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan.

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Lloyd Omdahl
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Even though he doesn’t stuff the envelopes, North Dakota Tax Commissioner Brian Kroshus deserves credit for the efficient manner in which his department is serving the public. His turnaround time is just a matter of days while the Internal Revenue Service takes months.

(If Commissioner Kroshus ever uses this compliment in a political campaign, I will deny that I ever said it – plead temporary insanity or something else believable.)

For an agency that touches thousands of people, the Tax Department has been a well-managed unit of government for over 50 years. Among its commissioners were former United States Senators Heidi Heitkamp, Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan.

As for the IRS, I overpaid for 2021 and filed my return on April 15. For the past 60 days, I have been going to the mailbox with the hope that my refund will appear and I can party.

I should have asked them to transfer it electronically but I thought it would be more fun holding the paper so I asked for it in the mail. Think of it as a fund earmarked for fun purposes.


Now I could believe that the fault is not with the IRS but with the mail service. That would be believable since mail costs and delivery time have both gone up. There are things that go up and never come down.

Now the IRS has a legitimate excuse. It has been choked in Congress by the anti-tax crowd that would abolish all taxes if they could. But if they can’t abolish the income tax, they want to make it difficult for the IRS to collect.

It is beneficial for those who are avoiding paying their share of the wealth. They sift through every loophole and when they find that they still owe taxes they try to limit the number of IRS auditors that might discover more loopholes than the law allows. It is a ploy of the wealthy.

Congress has been appropriating less and less money for the IRS until all the agency has is a skeleton force and makes me wait at least two months for my refund. In reality, it is cheating the system because billions of tax dollars escape every year, leaving those of us in the middle class paying more than our share.

Except for the loopholes, federal tax laws apply equally to everyone. On second thought, that may be a contradictory statement because the loopholes make it a rigged system that does not apply equally. Admittedly, every taxpayer does not get a loophole.

When we go down one tier to the state level, every state has its own peculiar loopholes that benefit the strongest economic, political and social forces in the state. That means 50 different tax systems in an obsolete federal system. It makes life complicated for people who work for interstate corporations and businesses, the number of which is increasing daily.

Because states lack the courage to impose higher taxes, they depend on the federal government for extra money, hat in hand. And when they spend it, they do not give the federal government the credit for its share.

This dependence on the federal government has been draining federalism of its vigor for the last 100 years. Today, we no longer have two clear levels of government because the finances have become so intergovernmental that the levels have become indistinguishable.


Maybe I will get my refund in time for Black Friday so I can catch up on all of the good deals I missed while waiting for Congress to give the IRS enough money to collect from the cheaters.

Anyway, thank you, Commissioner Kroshus, for doing your part.

Lloyd Omdahl is a former state lieutenant governor and professor at UND.

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