Senator Fred Thompson’s Tax Day Statement

“Much too often taxpayers find that their federal tax dollars are wasted, lost, stolen or otherwise unaccounted for. Just two weeks ago I received a report from the General Accounting Office which said that the government’s financial records were so poorly kept that day-to-day management of the federal government was ineffective, inefficient and almost totally unaccountable to anyone. Our federal government could not pass an audit.

“In one of the most glaring examples of this mismanagement the Defense Department lost two utility boats valued at $174,000 each; two large harbor tug boats that cost $875,000 each; one floating crane which cost $468,000; 15 aircraft engines including two F-18 engines valued at $4 million each; and an Avenger Missile Launcher valued at $1 million.

“Mismanaging government’s financial resources–your tax dollars–results all too often in large-scale waste, fraud and abuse, as made clear in the GAO report. When government taxes Americans to pay for its own operations, and then cannot account for its spending, it is simply not acceptable.

“If government requires that Americans be accountable and pay their fair share of taxes, then it only is fair and reasonable that government should be accountable to the taxpayers who fund it. Far too often this is not the case. Last week newspaper stories reported on a taxpayer in Massachusetts who in 1997 paid his taxes with a personal check, as many of us do. This year the IRS told him he had not paid last year’s taxes. When he showed them the canceled check, the IRS said that was not proof enough. Then they required that he ‘prove’ that the IRS had actually received the money.

“Whether it is misplaced taxpayer checks or lost tug boats and missile launchers, accountability should be a two-way street. The federal government requires us to be accountable by providing the money to operate government. But all too often it fails us in not keeping track of the hard-earned money it receives from taxpayers.

“It is long-since time that government starts working for the American people, not the other way around.”