LAST CALL: You'll pay if you mess with the IRS

If there is any more reviled agency in the US government than the IRS, we don't know about it. The poor tax collector has to grab every opportunity he can to boost his image. But now they have had a little help from the US district court in Michigan, as reported in The Wall Street Journal.

Lyle Edward Hotchkiss, a former Michigan resident, was convicted of tax evasion and Judge Robert Holmes Bell sentenced him to 27 months in jail.

But the judge was also keen to punish him for remarks made in an interview in March that was published in the Grand Rapids Press.

In the story, Hotchkiss criticized the IRS and said he was sure to win the case. Judge Bell ordered him to buy a full-page ad in the same newspaper, admitting his guilt.

'I'm going to require that your picture be there,' the judge said. 'And I'm going to require that you explain that you have been sentenced to 27 months in prison for not paying taxes, and that you were wrong, and that other people should pay their taxes.'

Now that's what the IRS would call a non-taxable benefit.

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