Confessions of a Tax Collector [NOOK Book]


Twelve years ago, Richard Yancey answered a blind ad in the newspaper offering a salary higher than what he’d made over the three previous years combined. It turned out that the job was for the Internal Revenue Service -- the most hated and feared organization in the federal government.

So Yancey became the man who got in his car, drove to your house, knocked on your door, and made you pay. Never mind that his car was littered with candy wrappers, his palms were sweaty, and he ...

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Confessions of a Tax Collector

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Twelve years ago, Richard Yancey answered a blind ad in the newspaper offering a salary higher than what he’d made over the three previous years combined. It turned out that the job was for the Internal Revenue Service -- the most hated and feared organization in the federal government.

So Yancey became the man who got in his car, drove to your house, knocked on your door, and made you pay. Never mind that his car was littered with candy wrappers, his palms were sweaty, and he couldn’t remember where he stashed his own tax records. He was there on the authority of the United States government.

With "a rich mix of humor, horror, and angst [and] better than most novels on the bestseller lists" (Boston Sunday Globe), Confessions of a Tax Collector contains an astonishing cast of too-strange-for-fiction characters. But the most intriguing character of all is Yancey himself who -- in detailing how the job changed him and how he managed to pull himself back from the brink of moral, ethical, and spiritual bankruptcy -- reveals what really lies beneath those dark suits and mirrored sunglasses.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
After failing at a number of jobs, Yancey joined the IRS as a revenue officer in 1991 when he answered a want ad in the newspaper. As a revenue officer, Yancey was charged with collecting taxes from delinquent taxpayers. At the start of his career, Yancey was ambivalent about working for the IRS, but the longer he stayed with the organization the more seriously he took the job. A turning point came during a seizure (when the IRS seizes property from people who have been unable or unwilling to pay taxes), when Yancey stumbled across a band of tax protesters and took it as a personal challenge to root out as many protesters as possible and in the course of doing so found himself living for his job. Yancey's account of his 12-year career starts out as a lighthearted look at his early days as an IRS trainee, but the tone is more somber and reflective as he becomes more enmeshed in his job, breaks up with his girlfriend, and finds himself isolated from nearly everyone outside of his workplace. There is a happy ending to the story, however, as Yancey marries his supervisor, quits the service and fulfills his dream of writing a book. His description of what life is like inside the IRS is generally engaging and shows the fallibility of a system that comprises, after all, men and women who have their own strengths and weaknesses. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Come April 15 each year, most people pay their taxes on time, but those who avoid doing so are invariably called upon by the likes of Yancey, who recounts his 12-year career as a revenue officer for the Internal Revenue Service. Yancey chronicles how he would hunt down individuals, often hounding them until they paid their delinquent taxes, while laboring in an almost Kafkaesque work environment. His breezy confessional style is often humorous yet sometimes terrifying, as he discloses the various methods "the service" (as it is referred to by IRS employees) utilizes to get people to "pay up"-at the cost of a real psychic toll to himself and his colleagues. In the book's final pages, the author does mention the Revenue Restructuring Act of 1998, which has gone a long way in curbing many of the questionable enforcement actions he describes. Yancey comes across as a decent, humane guy, certainly not your typical tax inquisitor, who has succeeded in writing an engaging insider's account of life inside the dreaded IRS. (Readers wanting to read more about other misdeeds of the IRS should peruse John A. Andrew's Power To Destroy.) Recommended for larger public libraries.-Richard Drezen, "Washington Post," New York City Bureau Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061740756
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/17/2009
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 1,137,395
  • File size: 703 KB

Meet the Author

Richard Yancey worked for twelve years as a revenue officer for the Internal Revenue Service. He is a produced playwright, a former theater critic, and a published novelist.

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First Chapter

Confessions of a Tax Collector
One Man's Tour of Duty Inside the IRS

Chapter One


For most of the past thirteen years, I have used a different name, chosen by me and approved by our government, to perform the task appointed to me by the people of the United States. This name, my professional name, I will not tell you.

I am a foot soldier in the most feared, hated, and maligned agency in the federal government.

I work for the Treasury. I execute Title 26 of the United States Code, for the Internal Revenue Service -- or the Service, as we in the trenches call it.

I collect taxes, but don't call me a tax collector. Nobody wants to be a tax collector. Call me what the Service calls me. Call me a revenue officer.

And hear my confession.

November 1990

"Okay, Rick, let's start. Why do you want to be a revenue officer?"

I was sitting in a small conference room in Tampa, across the table from Jim Neyland, chief of the Tampa branch of the Jacksonville District of the Internal Revenue Service. It was after-hours. His tie was loose around his neck and his shirtsleeves rolled to his elbows. He was about fifty, with thinning salt-and-pepper hair and a bushy black mustache. I had just turned twenty-eight, and was wearing a ten-year-old suit with a ten-day-old dark blue tie. The interview had been scheduled to begin an hour earlier, but I had waited in the reception area of the branch office, while his secretary fussed at her desk and his loud voice boomed throughout the office as he made dinner arrangements on the phone. There were no magazines to read, no television to stare blankly at while I waited. In one corner sat a dusty plastic palm tree. The carpeting was dark blue. The divider separating the secretary's workstation from the waiting area was white. The ceiling was white. On the white wall directly opposite me were two large framed photographs, one of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and another of the space shuttle Challenger. The bridge had collapsed into Tampa Bay in 1980, killing thirty-five people. Challenger had exploded in 1986, seconds after the photograph was taken.

Jim Neyland did not want Chinese. He wanted barbecue. He had been thinking about it all day, and his heart was set on barbecue. He hated Chinese; he was always hungry again thirty minutes later. He wanted some barbecue pork and some beans and corn on the cob and some coleslaw and he didn't give a good goddamn what everybody else wanted. No, not Italian, either. There would be no compromise where he was concerned. It was barbecue or nothing. The secretary flashed an apologetic smile in my direction and buzzed him again. "Mr. Yancey is here for his interview." He apparently didn't hear her. I examined my new tie for any picks, stains, or hitherto unnoticed blotches. I had to urinate, but knew the moment I bolted for the bathroom, Jim Neyland would turn the corner from the inner recesses of his office, looking for me. I stared at the picture of Challenger. Like most Americans, I could remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I heard the news. How long ago that seemed -- a lifetime or two. And now I was here, four months after answering an ad in the newspaper, more on a whim than design. My destination, my mission, was not as clearly defined as Challenger's, but in its own way was no less perilous.

"I need the job," I answered. I had decided not to repeat the preface I had used in my second interview, which had taken place two weeks prior to this one: Well, I never dreamed of being a tax collector when I grew up. This had not gone over well with one of my interrogators. "And it sounds like very interesting work."

"Well, you'll never be bored," Jim Neyland said. He picked up a folder and opened it. I could see my name printed on its face in large black letters: Yancey, John Richard. Inside were my application and notes from the first two interviews. I folded my hands in my lap, rubbing the tips of my thumbs against my slick palms. There was a motel-room quality print of a beach scene on the wall behind Jim Neyland, with a lone seagull perched on a picket fence, staring out over the dark ocean.

"So, you went to law school." His hair was thinning at the crown, a perfectly round bald spot about the size of a golf ball. Curly black hair carpeted his forearms.

"For a year."

"What happened?"

"I left."

"You dropped out?"

"I dropped out."

"Why did you drop out?"

"I decided it wasn't for me."

"It took you a year to figure that out?"

"I was kind of trying to live up to someone else's expectations." My father was a lawyer, as was my brother.

"Need a job to pay off the loans?" His tone was friendly; he seemed genuinely interested.

"Among other things."

He turned a page. "Boy, you've had quite a few jobs over the years."

"Well, the application said list everything for the past ten years." I stopped. I sounded defensive.

He ignored me. "Typesetter. Drama teacher. English professor...your degree is in English?"

"That's right."

"What the hell did you think you were going to do with that?" The question was rhetorical. He continued, "Dramaturge...what the hell is a dramaturge?"

"Someone who analyzes drama."

"They pay you to analyze that?"

"Not much."

"Playwright. Convenience store manager. Ranch hand. Ranch hand?"

"Sort of the family business."

"Get along lil' doggies!"

I managed to laugh.

"Anything you haven't done?"

"Singing telegrams."

"Anything you won't do?"

"Singing telegrams."

"What's your deal, Rick, besides comedy? I mean, what do you want to be when you grow up?"

He slapped the file closed and leaned back in his chair, cupping the back of his head with both hands, fingers laced ...

Confessions of a Tax Collector
One Man's Tour of Duty Inside the IRS
. Copyright © by Richard Yancey. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 12 of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2011

    Interesting Read

    I really enjoyed this book. I had a hard time putting it down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 5, 2010

    Enjoyable book

    If I ever see Richard Yancey in real life, I owe the guy a beer.

    Very engaging story about time at the IRS as a revenue collector. The cast of characters surrounding him are crazy and believable all at once, and Mr. Yancey's portrayal of himself slowly assuming and getting consumed by the power of his job are fascinating.

    The book ends suddenly, but happily. I would have preferred more but everything that is here makes for a great, fun read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2006


    SO generally I am a fantasy and Sci-fi kinda guy, but one day I was in the bookstore and saw the cover of the book. I picked it up and the next thing I remember I am at home and it is 2 in the morning. This book was amazing. It made me want to be in the IRS. If you are looking for a book with great stories, amazing laughs, and some romance. Then this book is for you!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2004

    Richard Yancey: The Brave and Fearless Leader

    Richard Yancey appears to be the kind of teacher any youngster would love to have. His lightheartedness and is masculine appearance can be over welming, not to mention the kind of instruction he gives to his young readers. I am looking forward to Mr. Yanceys upcoming series.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 17, 2004

    Totally Enjoyable Read

    I wasn't sure about a book that was about 'Tax Collectors' but I found this to be one of the most enjoyable books I've read this year! It's a story about the workplace...about any workplace and about how we are often called upon to compromise our ethics. Bravo to Yancey for finally standing up to the IRS and for finding his true love ! This book is highly recommended.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2004

    The light at the end of a tunnel

    The story is filled with negative scenarios, and the cascade of ensuing decisions that document the resulting changes in a person's attitudes towards work, relationships, and society. It is believable piece of work that makes you want to think that it is fiction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2004

    Master motivators

    I found the people Yancey worked around more interesting than him......almost like Seinfeid was a good show because of his supporting cast.The IRS are master motivators.........It made me almost want to go work for them!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2004

    Big disappointment

    I thought that this book looked really interesting because of its premise. This book is more about office politics that you would find at any office, and certainly not just the IRS. Also, the stories Yancey tells about the job are not that interesting. Finally, and most importantly, the ending leaves A LOT to be desired. I found absolutely no closure whatsoever at the end of the book, and I was very disappointed. From reading the dust jacket, the book was supposed to show how the IRS changed Yancey and how he eventually stepped back from the brink of disaster. To me, this book was just a description of how he turned into a real A-Hole tax collector. By the end of the book there is no real description of how he turned back around. He still seemed like a bad guy at the end of the book (with the exception of some weird story about saving some random dog). Yancey is a real drama queen. He takes every little thing that happened and plays it up like it was a personal attack on him. The book reads like it was written by someone who was getting his first experience in the real world, which is really sad considering Yancey was approx. 30 years old when the story takes place. My advice to him would be to grow up and get rid of his ridiculously self-absorbed personality.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2004

    Not a conspiracy book -- interesting reading!

    Richard Yancy writes a delightful expose of life as a IRS tax collector. I never thought a 'normal' individual's personal and work life could be so interesting, but it reads like a, well, book! A little slow at parts (it IS the IRS, after all), and its possible to get bogged down in tax speak, but overall, a very enjoyable book which I found to be an intruiging read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2004

    The Tax Man Tells 'THE TALE'

    This gifted writer takes us on a very entertaining(and scary) tour inside the most feared agency in our government. The truly scary thing is that we all can relate to the people within this place because they are in fact just like the people we all work with ! The author finds himself within this place and is able to present a coming of age tale with a sweet bit of romance. I totally enjoyed this read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 26, 2004


    This book is entertaining enough and the characters strange enough to be a work of fiction. But that's the hook, it isn''s all true. We don't think of of the IRS as one of the exciting or 'sexy' agencies like the ones found in popular novels, ie..the CIA or FBI, but it is the IRS that is right here knocking on our door. Yancey's brillantly written conversations and story telling pull us in , entertain us and scare us from the very beginning.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 12 of 11 Customer Reviews

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