John Oliver Pays Tribute To The IRS

We are so close to the tax deadline that it could reach out and smack us in the face. If you're shaking your fists and cursing out the IRS right now, as many Americans are likely doing, redirect your anger. On Sunday night's episode of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver argues why the IRS isn't so bad: "The IRS does a difficult, thankless, almost dangerously boring job." Essentially, Oliver says, the IRS is America's anus — we don't like it, but we need it. And to show his gratitude, Oliver pays tribute to the agency with "a very sexy reward."

You've probably noticed how difficult it's been to reach a real person at the IRS this tax season. It's gotten so bad that the number of "courtesy disconnects" (when the IRS's automated system hangs up on you because it's overwhelmed by the number of calls) has reached five million.

You can't just put a nice word in front of an unpleasant one and change the meaning. It's like the phrase politely decline, or care bear. They're still bears — they'll rip you the fuck apart.

So it's no wonder that everyone absolutely loathes the IRS. However, it's not their fault, Oliver argues. And he's here to "attempt the impossible": make us feel bad for the agency.

For starters, it can't be fun to work as an IRS agent when taxpayers send them nasty gifts in the mail after tax season, like brown sugar, dust, and mustard on tax checks. And it's not just everyday Americans who hate the IRS; even state governors have outright cursed them. In 2012, Maine Governor Paul LePage called the IRS the "new Gestapo."

However, that's just a bad rap, Oliver insists. According to the IRS's YouTube page, which features videos of employees talking about their jobs, they don't sound like the villains they're painted out to be at all, just "unbelievably boring."

Those people aren't Nazis. Nazis are inherently interesting. Those people are the physical equivalent of Ambien.

Oliver points out that there's a "weird heroism" in doing this kind of job that the vast majority of the world does not want to do. That's right, the IRS are not the villains here. Oliver reminds us that if we're angry about the amount of taxes we pay, that has nothing to do with the IRS. So who should we all be shaking our fists at? If we really want to curse a government entity, Oliver says, it should be Congress because they're the ones who determine our taxes.

And if Americans think that our tax code is too complicated, the IRS actually agrees. They can barely keep up with the changes, which totaled 579 in 2010 alone.

Five-hundred and seventy-nine changes in one year. The only document that should change that often is the Wikipedia page for Bill Cosby.

The point that Oliver is trying to get at here is that blaming the IRS for the taxes we have to pay is "a bit like slapping your checkout clerk because the price of eggs has gone up."

The IRS's already difficult job is only getting more so with Congress's continuous cuts to its budget. Even though Congress made most of them out of anger, some of those cuts were justified, like when the IRS spent excessively on conferences and a Star Trek-themed training video and unfairly targeted Tea Partiers and other conservative groups in their applications.

If we assume the worst — that the IRS was deliberately targeting certain political groups — then the best thing we could do is to replace those in charge and reform how the agency reviews political groups. However, Congress has gone and done the worst thing: "angrily slash their budget so they can't operate properly." These budget cuts end up hurting American taxpayers, such as the "courtesy disconnects," for example.

As a result, the agency has lost a significant number of employees, the vast majority of whom are over 50 years of age. The lack of funding has also prevented technological updates in their facilities, which means that almost half of all existing tax data is stored in a magnetic cartridge system developed in the 1960s.

But that's not the only reason we should fund the IRS; it's also one of the safest investments for public money. According to a Bloomberg report from 2013, "every dollar spent on enforcing U.S. tax laws yields $6 in collections."

The IRS sextuples your money. They should make that their motto, where it not for the fact that Sextuples is already the name of Sandals' spinoff most likely to get shuttered by the Health Department.

In the end, Oliver is not saying that the IRS is likeable exactly, 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 or everything goes to shit real quick.

So after the years of abuse and Nazi comparisons, Oliver is going to take a few minutes out of his day to show the IRS some much-deserved appreciation.

Unfortunately, expression of sincere emotion is not my forte. I'm British.

Thankfully, he was able to enlist some help in serenading the IRS... from '90s pop sensation Michael Bolton. Take a look at the lyrics of the "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You" spinoff.

I could hardly believe it when I heard the news today

Congress cut your budget right in two

I guess you make people angry with the things you do and say, cuz you make us give our money straight to you

But we need you real bad, though it's clear nobody really likes you

You're the anus of our country, don't you know

Tell me, how are we suppose to live without you

We couldn't functionally survive, no

How are we supposed to live without you?

And just saying this just cuts me like a knife

We need the IRS to stay alive

Yes, you've had fuckups, like that stupid Star Trek thing

Tell me who was it who really thought of that

Well I'm sorry to hear that, they got staffing problems too

Their recruitment numbers at best are a little flat

Now I don't wanna know just how we'd get along without them

Cuz you never miss your anus till it's gone

Tell me, how are we suppose to live without you

We couldn't cut your budgets till you bleed

How are we supposed to love without you?

And how will we pay for everything we need

Like Colorado National Park procurement assistant Brian Reed

[Oliver jumps in to do a spoken word verse.]

Look, IRS, you're never going to be anyone's favorite agency, you know that. You're boring. You're unlikeable.

But here's the thing: deep down, we need you. We need you like we need our own anus.

Because like our anus, we may not love you or like to talk about you or even want to look at you through a series of strategically placed mirrors, but deep down, we're glad you're there!

Now I don't want to know what life is like without an anus

Will you think of Brian Reed?

Tell me how are we supposed to live without you?

We relied on you for funding for so long

How are we supposed to love without you?

And how are we supposed to carry on?

When the only practical way to collect revenue under our current governmental system, pending a significant overhaul of the tax code, which seems unlikely at best, is gone

Watch the entire video below.

Images: Last Week Tonight With John Oliver/YouTube