Not Even Nuclear War Will Stop The IRS

“[O]perations will be concentrated on collecting the taxes which will produce the greater revenue yield.” —Internal Revenue Manual

In A Nutshell

The only certainties in life, as we all know, are death and taxes. Of course, one would have to assume that in the event of a nuclear war, in which virtually everything and everyone is destroyed, at least the taxes part would become a little less rigidly enforced, right? Wrong. The IRS actually has contingency plans in place to collect taxes even when you find yourself roaming a Fallout-style wasteland.

The Whole Bushel

One of the most enjoyable aspects of playing a video game like any of the Fallout series, or watching a movie like Mad Max, is the knowledge that in the event of nuclear war, the only certainty is death, and taxes can go right to hell. Well, according to the Internal Revenue Service, that’s not entirely accurate.

That’s because as it turns out, the IRS actually has a plan to continue taxing you like crazy even if mushroom clouds start popping up all over the United States. That means that you shouldn’t even think about having your tax debts wiped out, because there is an actual section in the IRS manual that deals specifically with how to continue to collect taxes in the event of nuclear war and its aftermath.

You might think that it would take a while for the IRS to get back on its feet, particularly considering any nuclear strikes would certainly be aimed directly at the major cities in the United States and would therefore wipe out the tax man, right? Well, not really.

The IRS manual actually stipulates that within 30 days of an attack, they expect to be fully operational once again, and will be “assessing and collecting taxes” in that very short time frame. This has actually been in place in the IRS manual since the 1960s—makes sense, considering every facet of the American government was taking steps to assure continuity in the event of the Cold War escalating into all-out nuclear warfare.

If this spoils your fantasies of thriving in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, however, don’t fret. There is some good news. Some of the proposals mentioned within the manual include bank loans and mortgages being paid off, with the taxes being geared almost entirely toward rebuilding civilization. Based on our limited knowledge of what a world like that would look like, we can only assume these new taxes would be based on how many Nuka Cola caps a person could collect while scavenging for supplies and killing marauders.

Show Me The Proof

NY Times: Nuclear War Plan by I.R.S.

  • inconspicuous detective

    somehow, i really don’t think this plan would pan out. the moment they even tried to collect, they’d realize the dollar had been devalued and it didn’t matter (going with fallout here, not real logic).

    real logic would say that the IRS would see many employees killed or on the run and be completely unable to function, while most people simply gave up on giving a damn. so it’s not like this could’ve worked, though it is very interesting to see what else the cold war caused.

    • Exiled Phoenix

      Nuclear Holocaust would result in a kill or be killed attitude. 1: ensure weaponry. 2: ensure a secure location to operate from. 3: ensure a stable food and water source. 4: Defend yourself and those in your group including the assimilation or destruction of others.

      • inconspicuous detective

        that would work well in the event of a zombie apocalypse, also.

        • Exiled Phoenix

          The simplest plans in a cataclysm work the best in multiple situations.

      • Errkism

        Ya I doubt the IRS would be successful in getting taxes when that’s the mindset of a post apocalyptic world. They’d sooner kill the IRS employee and take his goods rather than give him their goods/money.

        • Exiled Phoenix

          Lol, very true.

  • Didn’t we just have this info here recently?
    Is this a reprint?
    I remember this whole article, although it may have been in a different format.

    • Errkism

      I also remember reading something about this on either this site or Listverse.

  • LeAnn

    Has anyone else noticed that the phrase “the IRS,” when juxtaposed spells THEIRS?

  • WhiteExodus

    I can imagine the IRS regressing to a bunch of suit and tie bandits after a nuclear apocalypse…

  • Lino

    Haha, good luck for a bunch of guys going around collecting money from people that are nuked and will kill you for a bit of food or the clothes on your body. But its must be nice for you americans out there to know that even though all you guys will die of radiation, at least your government will survive. Nice country you have there, thinking of cash before heath as usual

  • John Smith

    I have a plan for ventilating any IRS agents I see, post-apocalypse. Pretty obvious that the fiat funny money will only be useful as tinder or @$$wipe, so it would be beans and bullets that are the real currency then, not even gold.