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

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  401 Ratings  ·  63 Reviews
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,
Paperback, 400 pages
Published December 28th 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published 2004)
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Apr 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book started out as an informative peek into life working for the IRS. unfortunately the author started trying to tie in his own descent into madness -maybe related to his job, but it sounds like he was kind of strange bird to begin with - but I found his whole downward spiral a little boring. I didnt really care about him or get why he was turning into such a freak. I mean what kind of man wears colored contacts? granted this was the early-to-mid-nineties. anyhow, it did make me wonder how ...more
Lizabeth Tucker
Feb 25, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Subtitled "One Man's Tour of Duty Inside the IRS". Richard Yancey, not the name he worked under, served as a Revenue Officer for approximately thirteen years, some of it in North Florida. As a long time IRS employee myself (19 years, 10 months), although not in Collections, I was interested to see what Yancey had to say.

I'm sorry to report that I was somewhat disappointed. Although the technical side is dead on and I'll be among the first to admit that there are strange people both in and out o
Tejas Janet
Jun 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
I really liked this book. It was a nice surprise to stumble across this entertaining and surprisingly insightful memoir. I almost gave it 5 stars, but maybe held back because you just can't give the taxman THAT much love ; )
Oct 16, 2010 rated it it was ok
Well, I was hoping for a memoir akin to that of Perkin's "Confession of an Economic Hitman". While it did illuminate some of the practices and protocol of the IRS, I was hoping for greater insight and analysis, some existential crisis all circling around the ultimate unconstiutionality of the IRS, of the Federal Reserve, "the beast" that requires tax dollars, not for health care, roads, education, so much as funding drug wars, foreign wars.

Though it was a fairly entertaining read, I was left de
Mar 20, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: tell-all
Basically a really strange cross between a tell-all book about the IRS in the 1990s and one guy’s mental bender. The stuff about the crazy tax deadbeats is interesting, but interoffice politics and his exercise routine are not. I thought the ending was going to come about 50 pages beforehand and so the last pages felt like wading through muck. The author is pretty much a jerk for most of the book, but it sounds like his completely messed-up relationship contributed a lot to that. He definitely m ...more
Jul 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Who knew what went on behind the closed and mysterious doors of the IRS? Well, Richard Yancey did and now we all knows what goes on. As Richard transforms from a mild-mannered English major into a badass "Feed the Beast" revenue officer, we are along his journey, every step of the way. His girlfriend leaves him, he smokes too much and he learns to take someone's home and sleep through the night after doing so. This book was funny, sad, entertaining and a little scary...
Jun 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
More interesting than you would imagine. Highly accurate on facts, right down to the job titles and form numbers. Funny without trying too hard. Makes you think without being too serious. Would read again (if there weren't so many other things to read!).

One caveat: the book was published in 2004 after the author's work in the mid-1990s. The IRS has gone through some significant changes since then, and so have the ways we interact with them. I'm sure the characters in the IRS and the delinquent t
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow, what an eye-opener! If you thought the IRS was an animal that should be feared, this book will confirm that idea in spades.

You have to be quite heartless to do the job Mr. Yancey did. He was, and he was proud of it. The stories of how people let their tax payments go (which is NEVER a good idea) were astonishing. Even more so was his ability to be all business with very little concern for the people he was dealing with. And he truly seemed to enjoy it.

It was a good book to read if you want
Lloyd Dalton
Nov 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
"I have been spat on, kicked, punched, pushed down, my hair yanked, and had a gun pulled on me. I have been called Nazi, Gestapo, pig. I've had doors slammed in my face and once somebody tried to run me over with a car. I go home at night and my wife tells me I drink too much and don't get enough sleep. I haven't spoken to my parents in two years. My friends from college don't call me anymore. Three years ago, every strand of hair on my body, from the top of my head to those little hairs that gr
Apr 19, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-read
So here goes nothing. I finally completed this book. What to say? Where to start? Well - I also was a Revenue Officer, working for Small Business/Self Employed section of the IRS. I basically did the same job as Rick Yancey, but back in 2007. While there, I faintly remember hearing around the office that this book was out - and how it was so highly despised by other ROs. The technical aspects that Rick describes are accurate when it comes to the IRS (like IDRS and the 809 book), but I'm not sure ...more
Nov 18, 2008 rated it liked it
This book was interesting, but lacked some of the "gory" details of tax collecting. Or maybe the details are not actually very gory, so that is why he didn't tell them. One thing that was weird is the book jacket references some things that sound really interesting, like the author had to use a fake name while he was a tax collector and the name had to be approved by the governemnt...but he never actually talked about that in the book.

The end of the book, actually the very last sentence, made m
Aug 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
I don't know how much of it was exactly true (he's a novelist and playwright after all), but very readable account of his 12 years as a collections guy (revenue officer) for the IRS. Works well on a couple levels --

(a) insider stuff about how tax collections, seizures, etc. work, how much leeway they have to decide whether or not to be lenient or patient with a particular taxpayer, and so on;

(b) author's own personal transformations while on the job -- he's a rail-thin cigarette smoker who bec
Sep 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir, own, rated
This book is about how a job can destroy a man's soul. As one who is yet to start his professional career, I was curious to find out the harsh realities of the 9 to 5 lifestyle. The book on occasion is very witty and humorous but fails to grab the reader's attention, primarily because of the author's tendency to digress along various irrelevant tangents. I also found myself unable to empathize with any of the characters which made this book less enjoyable than it could have been. The second half ...more
Feb 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Feed the beast, feed the beast.

I can see hints of The Monstrumologist in these pages, as if the IRS had trained Yancey, given him the experience to be able to write such a novel as The Monstrumologist. After all, The Monstrumologist is, ultimately, about the monstrosity that is humanity. And the Confessions of a Tax Collector is straightforwardly about the monster that is humanity.

The writing is so Yancey-esque, one can see the moral door that characters have to go through. If the IRS created t
Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
In "Confessions of a Tax Collector," Richard Yancey tells the story of his time working for the IRS. At the time, Yancey was an aimless twenty-something with no career path and a live-in fiancee he had no plans to marry who viewed tax collection as his last shot at success. As a tax collector, Yancey sees some of the worst American society can offer--and finds a new side of himself, a person who is more focused, but also less connected to humanity.
The story is fascinating, and told with flair. A
Jonathan Huang
Mar 29, 2016 rated it liked it
This book is an autobiography about Rick Yancey's adventure in the IRS. During his stay in the IRS, his life goes downhill all because of his job. I found this book interesting because I had always wondered what was going on in the IRS. However, one thing about this book I disliked was when Rick started going mad because of his job. I thought it was a little boring. I started liking Rick at the end of the book because he started to have initiative. But I disliked how Rick just threw away his lif ...more
Feb 15, 2008 rated it it was ok
A produced playwright, former theater critic, and published novelist, Yancey worked for the Internal Revenue Service for 12 years, beginning in 1990. His account of life in the IRS--with the names, personal appearances, and histories of the real individuals changed to protect their identities--reads like a novel, and provides a firsthand view of the institution, its policies and practices, its particular workplace culture, what it's like to learn the ropes as a trainee, and life as a full-fledge ...more
Aug 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first heard about this book from reading Yancy's Monstomologist series and really liked them. This one was as good and, surprisingly frightening - given his other books. What he remembers of himself and his co-workers was pretty interesting.

The book has a pace of his other fiction work. The characters are all vivid and interesting. Even his description of Florida took me back to my experiences there.

I highly recommend this book.
John Branney
Jun 07, 2015 rated it it was ok
I thought this book would have some funny parts in it, but I found the book depressing and sad. The book had example after example of cases of delinquent taxpayers who really were losing everything to the IRS and the mostly neurotic staff working for the IRS did not seem to care that they were ruining people's lives. Sad commentary. Avoid this book like the plague if you care about misfortunate people. Two thumbs way down.
Matt Brant
Yancey spent a couple of years as a collection agent for the IRS, mainly going after owners of small businesses that messed up payroll and other taxes beyond redemption. While it is true that many of the harsh collection methods described in the book were prohibited by Congress after Yancey left the IRS, this account gives proof why we ought to be afraid, very afraid, of unchecked government power directed at individual citizens.
Apr 05, 2009 marked it as to-read
My baby is due on April 13th, so I was thinking today that she might end up with April 15th (tax day) as her birthday! That will make her whole life lame. I hope she is born before or after. Maybe the day after, as a way to celebrate being done with the government stealing her hard earned money, or a way to celebrate with her refund. Or... maybe she could just be born whenever the heck, because I am sick of being pregnant. Seriously! Get out of me already!!
Mar 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
I liked this a lot. I thought the information about the job was interesting and the writing was good as well.

It felt just a touch was trying to tell the story of working for the IRS AND trying to tell this personal tale of woe and redemption? And not quite getting to the depth it needed to on either side.

But I still liked it. Interesting characters, for sure.
Apr 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a surprisingly good story. Don't let the title fool you…this book isn't the least bit boring or dry! Mr. Yancey is a great story-teller and you will have a lot of fun as you accompany him on his journey through his IRS career! A must-read for anyone who works for the government, or in the world of taxes and finance. Heck, just about anyone would enjoy this story!
Nov 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
Surprising read in many ways. The author details his struggles and successes as a revenue officer in the IRS. I actually picked it up looking for some technical tips to avoid an audit but the story turned into a readable mortality tale. Yancey writes with a smooth complexity and is a master at evoking sympathy on command.
May 17, 2010 rated it it was ok
Maybe I should give this three stars because it was entertaining enough to read all the way through. But I really disliked everyone in the book, especially the narrator. He reminded me of James Frey - way too impressed with his own 'I was a fucked up loser but I redeemed myself by being a bad ass' narrative. Makes me grouchy.
May 17, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: humor
It's supposed to be humorous, and perhaps it is. I just found the power of the IRS frightening and the agents inhuman. There was little to laugh about. He later remarks that the IRS has been greatly curbed by some act in 1998.
On personal level, it was like watching a nice man walk into Hell and learning to like it, and finally redeeming himself at the end.
Jun 24, 2010 rated it liked it
This was interesting take on how the IRS operates on the inside. It since has changed. The book is really about the authors journey in finding himself and love because of his "tour" in the IRS. If you are worried about language, this book has quite a bit of language in it. If you can get over that, it's an enjoyable read. Overall, I've enjoyed books from this author.
Dec 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting look at how the IRS used to work, and maybe will work again soon. Well paced and plotted with some clearly drawn characters, but I was a bit annoyed by the pages and pages of "recollected" conversations that read like scenes from a play.
Apr 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: z-2005
Written in 2005:
"A fascinating look at working for the Internal Revenue Service that reads like a novel. Humorous, with just enough self-revelation and shading to give it body and allow it to stand on its own."
Jan 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2011-reads
Was a 3.5 Rating. Had a lot of good information about what RO's do in the service or what they used to do. Would have liked for it to include more cases and less of the other political/personal stuff. Thats just my view.
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aka Richard Yancey

Rick is a native Floridian and a graduate of Roosevelt University in Chicago. He earned a B.A. in English which he put to use as a field officer for the Internal Revenue Service. Inspired and encouraged by his wife, he decided his degree might also be useful in writing books and in 2004 he began writing full-time.

Since then he has launched two critically acclaimed series: The Ext
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“He was formulating a plan. He would redeem the dream. I could understand that. It is the universal blessing—and curse—of those who dare.” 2 likes
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