Game Shows Wiki
Bob Goen
John Harlan
Beat the IRS.jpg
Unsold Pilot: 1985
Horl/Touchstone Productions
Uncle Sam Jr.

"Are you accustomed to receiving this kind of stress-filled mail? Then stay tuned, and we'll show you how to… BEAT THE I.R.S.! And now, let's meet the star of our show, a man who once made so much money, he becomes the #1 taxpayer in America, Bob Goen!"

Beat the I.R.S. was an unsold game show pilot.


Two contestants competed to test their knowledge of money and taxes through two rounds of gameplay.

Main Game[]

Round 1[]

Bob would ask a toss-up question, with the first player to buzz-in getting a chance to answer. If correct, they went over to the "taxable income" board and chose a number from 1-9, containing amounts from $100 to $1,000. To earn that money, the contestant would have to answer an IRS-related question correctly. If successful, the money was added to their "taxable income" bank, and they would go to the "shelter" board, again, choosing a number from 1-9, with percentages ranging from 10% to 90%, to determine how much of their taxable income would be added to their "sheltered income" bank upon answering another IRS-related question correctly.

Round 2[]

This round was played the same, only this time, the taxable income board had amounts from $600 to $3,000. Also in this round, if a player answered a follow-up question incorrectly, they would be penalized a random amount of money (usually $500), unless they decided to go to "tax court" (at a cost of $100 from their taxable income win or lose) where a resident judge makes a final ruling. The player with the most "sheltered" income in their bank won the game and played the bonus round.

Bonus Round[]

The contestant would be asked ten "yes or no" questions related to certain items that could or could not be tax deductible. He or she would be given 30 seconds to answer those questions. Every right answer earned a prize of increasing value of $500 (for example, getting seven right won a $3,500 trip to Jamaica), but getting all ten right won a new car (a $50,000 Mercedes-Benz).


  • Bob Goen would go on to host his first game show series, Perfect Match, in 1986.
  • Departing contestants are said to get a "family board game" version of Beat the I.R.S. The "game", such as it is, is clearly little more than a modified version of the board from either Monopoly or Stick the IRS! (the latter being a 1981 game that also involved "beating the IRS").
  • Goen namedropped the show in a July 1989 episode of The Pat Sajak Show, during a segment where Pat walked downstairs from his studio at CBS Television City to the studio where the daytime version of Wheel of Fortune (hosted by Goen) was taping. Until the pilot surfaced in December 2012, it was generally considered by fans to have simply been a joke on Bob's part.


Beat the I.R.S. induction at Game Show Garbage

YouTube Videos[]

The full pilot
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3