"Abolish the IRS" is a staple of Ted Cruz's stump speech.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who runs the 87,000 employee tax agency, had a candid response to that sentiment Tuesday.
"Politics are politics," he said after a speech at the National Press Club in Washington. "It is interesting to me. When you say you're going to abolish the IRS and everybody will fill out a small card, somebody has to collect the money."
Even if Congress chucked the tangle of credits and deductions in the U.S. tax code, there would still be a need to make sure people don't underreport their income.
Don't get Koskinen wrong. He's all for tax simplification. But abolishing the IRS? Not so much.
He did offer the Cruz crowd an olive branch with a side of snark.
"You could call them something other than the IRS if that made you feel better," he said.
That may not be what Cruz has in mind, however. During his speech at Liberty University announcing his entry into the presidential race, Cruz said he envisioned something more substantial than a simple name change.
"Instead of a tax code that crushes innovation, that imposes burdens on families struggling to make ends meet, imagine a simple flat tax that lets every American fill out his or her taxes on a post card. Imagine abolishing the IRS," Cruz said.