The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is expanding its social media presence. And while that’s to be expected in a fast-moving, tech-based world, it’s the platform that’s turning heads: TikTok.
TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service. Dominated mainly by teens and young adults, the fast-growing platform is primarily known for its short (about 15 seconds) dance and lip-sync videos. It’s not exactly what you’d expect from a federal tax agency, but maybe that’s the point.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig acknowledged that it was surprising but was quick to point out that times are changing. “I mean, if Secretary Mnuchin can extend federal filing tax deadlines on Twitter, why can’t we issue Regs on TikTok?” He ended his statement with a little robot dance.
So how difficult will it be? The IRS doesn’t keep musical or FX staff on payroll. But that’s part of the appeal of TikTok: the app allows you to choose sounds, song snippets, special effects, and filters. And you don’t need a full video studio to make it happen since you can use your phone. And, it doesn’t take much time or effort to make videos. That’s a massive plus for the resource-challenged agency.
In preparation for the tax agency’s TikTok debut, many IRS employees have been watching TikTok trending videos in their spare time.
“I think we got this,” one employee remarked. “It’s just a matter of setting tax guidance to music and throwing in a couple of dance moves like The Worm.”
Another employee enthusiastically recited the opening to section 162 while flossing. “See? Not too hard. And folks will remember it!”
Rettig agreed and demonstrated his plan to remind taxpayers about the new IRS People First Initiative with a little Fortnite hype move at the end.
One common thread on TikTok seems to be celebrity promotions. There’s no IRS budget for that – yet. But Rettig envisions a future where Matthew McConaughey and Beyoncé tout tax compliance.
“We’ve already come up with some good ideas, like having McConaughey in a Cadillac saying, “Sometimes you got to go back… to actually move forward, and I don’t mean going back to reminisce, or chase ghosts, I mean going back to see where you came from, where you’ve been, how you got here and see where you’re going. You know, clear like in the Tax Code.”
Or Beyonce turning up with a version of “Lemonade” turned into “Tax Due Date,” where she looks at the camera and whispers, “What are you hiding?” That one was IRS-Criminal Investigation Chief Don Fort’s idea, according to Rettig.
For now, the IRS is just trying to get the word out, initially experimenting with hashtag #TikTax (some in the agency are still pushing for #TaxTok, but that might be confusing for folks in Boston). A few lip sync videos are up, including a riff on Dua Lipa’s “Don’t Start Now” which has been changed to “Don’t Call Now” and one the IRS is particularly proud of, a version of Tones and I’s “Dance Monkey” that has been repackaged as “Tax Monkey.” The video was remarkably easy to duplicate (the original is here):
And yes, to clarify. That was the original, not the IRS version. The IRS version, packed with some of the most experienced employees, is scheduled to launch on April 1, 2020, April Fool’s Day.
In case it wasn’t quite obvious, this is my April Fool’s Day post: There is no current plan for IRS to launch on TikTok… but the year is still young!
I have fun with my April Fool’s Day posts every year. You can read some of the prior posts by clicking below:
- Proposal To Tax Text Messages, Emojis, and Memes, Raises Eyebrows
- IRS Announces National Search To Replace The Commissioner
- Congress Considers A Tax On Email
- IRS Introduces Tax Return Vending Machines
- Congress Bites at Pet Exemption
- IRS Offers Discount for Cash Payments
- Obama Administration Takes Heat for Planned Fat Tax
- Congress Proposes Federal Tax on Downloaded Music
- IRS Considers Tax-Exempt Status for Bloggers
- IRS Offers Bonus Charitable Deductions For A Limited Time