What It's Like to Be a Tax Collector

It's not as tame a profession as you might think.

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Ever wonder what a day in the life of a tax collector is like? The book Confessions of a Tax Collector sheds some light. In this Time Q&A, author Richard Yancy--who spent more than a decade collecting overdue taxes from individuals and businesses--talks about the narcissistic pleasures of tax collecting ("I was master of the universe for eight hours a day, or at least the little universe that was assigned to me"), using a fake name on the phone to avoid off-the-job harassment, and the experience of being assaulted by a tax payer:

"I was accompanying a co-worker to a business seizure, for non-payment of employment taxes. I was putting stickers on the trucks in the yard, and this pick-up truck comes roaring down the street and knocked the gate right off the fence. This young man, who turned out to be the taxpayer's son, leaps out of the cab and knocks me down and starts to jump on me. He was subsequently arrested.

When that happens, the IRS trains you to immediately leave. But my reaction was anger — I wasn't going to let anybody stop me — so we completed the seizure. I was chastised later."

If you've ever been curious about the IRS rep on the other end of the line, Yancy tells Time, "There are very kind people there, and there are very dysfunctional people who probably shouldn't have a job like that."

Curious about what your tax money actually pays for? Check out this handy chart.