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Is it Cool to Work for the IRS?

Published: Apr 06, 2015

According to the IRS it is.

Thing is, the Internal Revenue Service is full of middle-aged employees nearing retirement age, and so the IRS needs some young blood to help it collect taxes and keep the country afloat. And to try to lure young folks into its ranks, the Service has unveiled a new campaign that makes it seem cool and hip to serve your country by making sure its citizens pay their fair share. Which does sound rather democratic. In any case, the following comes directly from the IRS website:

Trying to decide what kind of career you want to build? How about one that helps build your nation? Here at the IRS, you’ll be part of a tax-collection process that funds our nation’s most vital programs—from securing the nation and protecting social services, to maintaining parklands and forests, building libraries, opening museums, enhancing schools and much, much more.

If nothing else, you have to admire the IRS’s effort: linking protecting forestland to a job with an agency historically known for pushing papers around. An impressive advertising angle indeed.

Further, as Bloomberg pointed out (with tongue pressing hard against inner cheek), there are some pluses of working for the Service that might appeal to millennials.

“While millennials are often derided for being anti-social and glued to their technology, this aversion to real life communications makes them an ideal fit with the IRS,” wrote 22-year-old AFTR [Annual Federal Tax Refresher] intern Alexander Hendrie. “Already, the agency does not answer phone calls at local offices and does not allow elderly or disabled taxpayers to leave phone messages. Taxpayers have also found it difficult and time consuming to get through to a human being this filing season.”

Another plus: sky’s the limit with all the elderly Service members set to retire.

The real ace the IRS may hold when it can add to staff is that millennials want to rise quickly through organizations. With 40 percent of its employees eligible to retire in 2019, there should be plenty of room for advancement.

I would add this "plus" to those: imagine all the ironic IRS gear you could sport and/or sell to your fellow hipsters if you worked for the Service. T-shirts, hats, mugs, pencils, and tote bags all emblazoned with the IRS logo would likely garner top dollar at any number of the overprized flea markets now so prevalent in our nation’s largest cities.

In addition, I would argue (with my tongue closer to its normal resting position) that a job with the IRS could in fact be a solid stepping-stone on a young person’s career path. For one, it could serve as excellent research for a novelist in training (especially one who would like to follow in the footsteps of David Foster Wallace, who famously performed tons of research on tax codes and tax documents and IRS employees in order to write his posthumous novel, The Pale King, which follows the lives of agents at the IRS Regional Examination Center in Peoria, Ill.).

It could also serve as a launching pad to a career in accounting (say, you had your heart set on a Big 4 firm and didn’t land the job of your dreams and don’t feel like settling for a regional public accounting firm and so instead you take a job with the gov, at the IRS). Or it could serve as a precursor to a life of public service: working for the IRS as a first job or even second would be a great story and talking point when you begin your run for that state congressional seat.

Let me also point out that if you’re not sold on a full-time job with the IRS, you can always test the Service waters with an internship. The IRS offers “a variety of job opportunities for college students age 18 and over—not just in accounting and finance, but also in information technology, law enforcement, business and much more.”

Follow me @VaultFinance.

Read More:
The IRS Wants to Convince Millennials It's Cool to Work There (Bloomberg)
How David Foster Wallace Found Tranquility in the Tax Code (NPR)
The Pale King Cometh: Posthumous Novel By David Foster Wallace


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