Q: What is the most surprising thing about your summer internship with the IRS?
A: I walked into an elevator with a woman going to a tech company on another floor in the building. Security measures require that I scan my access card just to gain access to my floor and out of curiosity, the woman asked me, “What’s on that floor?” I replied, “The IRS” and the woman’s eye’s immediately opened wide, she gasped, took two steps back into the corner of the elevator, and with fear in her voice asked, “The IRS is here!? You work for the IRS?”
This was probably the most dramatic reaction I have had from someone finding out I am interning at the IRS. The Service has a bad reputation and people are legitimately afraid. I have to admit that I too have imagined them for the longest time as a bunch of stern bureaucrats, but I was very pleasantly surprised, and confused at first, to discover that they are some of the most compassionate and friendly people I have met. Everyone in the office is bubbly and happy, some of the attorneys walk around the floor singing or whistling, and everyone goes out of their way to teach me something new or make sure that I do not have any lingering questions. I have noticed that they even reach out and assist taxpayers who have pending cases against the IRS. They realize that for many people, an audit is very frightening and they want to console taxpayers and help them, even if that means proving the IRS made a mistake. The truth, justice, and compassion are more important for the IRS than winning cases.