Confessions of a Tax Collector: One Man’s Tour of Duty Inside the IRS by Richard Yancey
Doesn’t sound all that interesting, does it? A revenue agent’s (i.e., tax collector’s) account of his time in the I.R.S.?
Don’t be so quick to write this one off. (Yes, I am full of puns for this one.) Yancey has a gift for storytelling, and his tales bring to life his 12-year career and the various characters he meets – both his colleagues and the delinquent tax payers he goes after.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the book, and how sad I was to finish it; I don’t know of any other book quite like it. That isn’t to say that I always like the character; Yancey admits that he ended up enjoying the power his position gave him, and so I’m glad I never had to deal with him if I was behind on paying my taxes. But as a narrator I liked him tremendously.
Disclaimer: Because I generally have a fairly high tolerance for profanity in books I’m reading, I’m going to confess that I don’t remember if there is any in this book or not – I read it long before I had a book blog so I wasn’t thinking about “will I recommend this to people who might or might not object to various things in the book?” I was simply reading it for the story, which I enjoyed. Some of the other books I’ve highlighted in this series I know had some (ahem, Heat), some I’m completely confident that they don’t (Eat That Frog), and some I suspect might and I just didn’t pay attention to it when reading (like this one.)
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.
To see all the books featured in 31 Days of Great Nonfiction Reads, go to the series page.
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