Food is taxable compensation—at least according to the IRS, which is now cracking down on Silicon Valley employers who routinely provide lunch to employees free of charge. According to the Wall Street Journal:

Courts have traditionally found that when meals are offered for the "convenience of the employer" they do not need to be considered a taxable benefit. …

But last week the Treasury published the annual list of IRS priorities and ominously included a plan for new guidance "regarding employer-provided meals." As a large bureaucracy, the IRS has no fewer than 317 such projects on its priority list. In this case they seem to mean it. The Journal reports that IRS auditors are now flagging the issue and demanding back taxes from companies amounting to 30% of the meals' fair-market value, according to lawyers for the firms.

You don't have to be a software programmer to think that the IRS ought to focus on other priorities. For example, not one of the 317 projects is devoted to accurate and complete disclosure of the agency's role in targeting the President's philosophical opponents.

Perhaps the IRS could simply focus on fulfilling the promises it made in July. Only seven years after the agency's own National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson began urging the agency to publish a new Taxpayer Bill of Rights, the IRS finally did so. It guarantees among other things that citizens will enjoy quality service, privacy and "a fair and just tax system." Imagine that.

Yes—especially coming from an agency that is paying the equivalent of nearly $24 million for hundreds of union employees who did no agency related work.