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Confessions of a Tax Collector: One Man's Tour of Duty Inside the IRS Hardcover – March 2, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (March 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060555602
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060555603
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #832,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Imagine if Brad Meltzer or John Grisham's first book had been a memoir about working for the Internal Revenue Service and you have an idea of just how thrilling Richard Yancey's Confessions of a Tax Collector: One Man's Tour of Duty Inside the IRS really is. Serving as a revenue agent--or, more informally, a tax collector--of the IRS for two years, Yancey went through strange transformations--from a tall, pencil-thin theater major, in an unforgiving relationship with no steady income, to a mean, muscle-wielding, unyielding revenue officer at the top of his game. What happens in between this tax collecting, money-hungry metamorphosis makes this memorable memoir the stuff of great fiction.

The Americans who shirk tax laws and responsibilities are inevitably tracked, coded, analyzed, pursued, and in general, marked for tax collection by a legion of government workers take center stage. "We have superior intelligence; we know more about our enemies' lives than they know about themselves. We know where they are. We know what they do. We know what they have. We will execute what they fear," Yancey writes. Just envision the line-up of misfits and average joes who populate the screen on Cops or America's Funniest Home Videos and you'll be close to imagining the range of people Yancey tangles with. Vengeful middle managers, hard-working small business owners, mean-spirited tax protestors, hardened tax evaders--the list of characters goes on and on. Every one of the people tracked within the walls of Yancey's local IRS office has the same, pitiful problem: the tax man cometh and the "beast needs to be fed." Equal parts love story, business tale, high-speed chase, and self-evolution, Yancey's Confessions of a Tax Collector packs plenty of human drama--all of it experienced and survived by one man. --E. Brooke Gilbert

From 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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Rick Yancey is the author several books for adults, including The Highly Effective Detective. He is also a produced playwright and former theater critic. He lives in Gainesville, Florida with his wife and three sons. Visit him at www.rickyancey.com.

Customer Reviews

The book is very easy to read and enjoyable.
L. Charles Wimer III
If you have any interest in how things work inside the IRS, I think you'll find this book to be well worth reading.
brazos49
Yancey's story is an interesting read for many reasons.
Elizabeth Hendry

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Publius on June 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
What a great book. I couldn't put it down. I had read the reviews and thought it sounded interesting, but probably would not have picked it up, but for the fact that on a visit to my local independent bookstore the author was there and doing a signing. I figured it was worth the $ to bring my wife a surprise (as she's an MBA and loathes the IRS - am I going to get audited now?). Anyway, I quickly stole the book from my wife and read it practically straight through.
Not only is Yancey (if that's his name) a great and sardonic writer, but his story actually had me laughing out loud with some frequency. And though I certainly hate paying my taxes I was comforted by his continuous message - If the Revenue Officers have been sent after a tax payer it is because that person has repeatedly ignored the IRS.
Scary though it may be to say it, I found myself having empathy for the tax-man. Yancey does paint a picture of a dysfunctional office environment, but not one very different from those I've seen in government service or the private sector. By the end not only was I rooting for him, but I was hoping he'd put away more tax protestors. After all, why should they be able to get away without paying their share while the rest of us work 4 months a year in effect to pay the government?
I would quibble with the details of his personal life at the end. They seemed forced and uncomfortable. Uncomfortable for him to write and uncomfortable for the reader to have to wade through.
Highly recommend it, for the type of laugh that sticks in your throat. I can't wait for the next installment.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Hendry VINE VOICE on July 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Admit it. You think this book is probably pretty boring. Tax Collector? Well, I assure you, it is certainly not boring; rather, it is an oddly compelling read that I just couldn't put down. (And no one is more shocked about that than I am!) Richard Yancey worked for 12 years as a revenue officer for the IRS collecting (or at least attempting to collect) unpaid employment taxes from small businesses. It was an interesting, challenging and sometimes grueling job for Yancey. Yancey's story is an interesting read for many reasons. First, he is an excellent writer. Second, the story he has to tell is interesting. His co-workers were a collection of colorful souls, all flawed, none of them the straight-laced, buttoned up type. Yancey also structures the story well and doesn't bore us with any memoir-style introspection. The book is paced well. Enjoy this one, despite any reservations you may have.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 4, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The reviews of this book are outstanding. This author has taken the revelation of this feared agency's secrets and weaved in a beautiul coming of age tale and love story. The critics are loving it as I am sure most readers will. Mr. Yancey has been receiving national praise. As for the O'reilly show, Fox owns the publisher, Harper Collins, so do you really think Mr. Yancey was invited on the show to discuss policy, no, it was to spread the word about this amazing book. I found it to be the best book I've read in a very long time.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I wasn't sure what to expect when I began this book. Not being a business major, but a liberal arts student I didn't have an interest in the actual workings of the IRS, but I soon learned this book was much more. Yancey explained the "technical" part of the agency's workings in fascinating but everyday terms. I actually enjoyed the personal tale that involved Yancey's finding his way home to be the best part of the book. I think either reader, the one most interested in this agency or the one looking for a book to entertain will be pleased. I agree with reviewer Steve Weinberg, "Confessions of a Tax Collector is not just a superb memior about working for the IRS, it's a superb memoir, period. "
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By C. Johnson on April 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
I got this book in hardcover last year after going through a real-life IRS audit of my own. I was hoping to gain some insight about the weirdo guy who did my audit and the odd, fortress-like feeling of the IRS building.

What I found in Richard Yancey's book was a big surprise: a brilliant character study of the protagonist, an IRS collection agent with a conscience, and his riveting observations of everything around him. He explains the no-mercy, warfare mindset that is drilled into the heads of collection agents. He has a great cast of characters, fascinating explorations of both the collectors and their prey. The most intriguing part of book is Yancey's personal transformation. This is well-written, compelling stuff, done in sort of a David Sedaris memoir style, funny but sometimes painful. Although it's non-fiction, there is a real story here, with a beginning, middle, and end. This is quite a trick to pull off in a non-fiction book. I'm sure it's "dramatized" a bit to make this work, but who cares? I loved it.

So now that you've turned in your 1040's, check this one out. I couldn't put it down.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Walter on March 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm not a big fan of this type of book, but I finally relented to my wife's demands that I read it. I fully expected to be bored out of my mind --- a book about taxes! --- but this story totally took me by surprise. It was funny, entertaining and completely absorbing. Some of the reviews I've seen in the media miss the point, it seems to me. This isn't so much an expose of the IRS as a powerful exploration of the human condition, against the backdrop of the secretive IRS. Yancey came of age in this story, discovering strength in himself, including the strength to follow his heart to true love. When I put the book down I told my wife, "This is a love story, disguised as a book about the IRS." Yancey talks in the epilogue about the Service bringing him to the place where he could appreciate the things that truly matter in life. Thank God it did, so he could write this brilliant, wonderful book. Don't buy the reviews you read that insinuate the IRS nearly ruined this man's life. In my opinion, it saved his life.
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