Do taxes have a lighter side? I suppose most things do… Toast always seems to burn on one side, the other is lighter. The earth changes from dark to light, depending on if a given point is facing towards or away from the Sun. Yoda warned about the dark side of the force but he never mentioned a lighter side. He was all business anyways until he moved to that swamp world and went a little senile.
So I’ll do my best to give you a different perspective. As a 13-year veteran of the IRS, I’ve seen my share of baloney, read my share of hot air jabberwocky (if I may borrow a bit of nonsense verse written by Lewis Carroll) and talked to my share of idiots. And by “idiot” I am kindly referring to the now disused classification system describing someone with an IQ of 25 and under, or a mental age of less than 3 years.
The other day for example, I was startled at the position a certain gentleman took regarding why his liability back from 1993 was invalid. At times, when an individual fails to file a tax return, and after the IRS has issued out a number of “gentle” reminders, an assessment will be prepared based on the reported income. This is what happened to this individual.
When I advised him of this, he embarked on a tirade of vulgarities, not against me, but toward the individual he worked for in 1993. All of those earnings were “supposed to be under the table.” He went on to explain that he had “no insurance at the time” and thus couldn’t be considered a lawful subcontractor, and so all of his earnings “didn’t count.”
I had to give pause as to my reply. I came up with, “So your perception of the situation is either that you were working illegally, or that the monies you did receive should not be taxed because the general contractor told you he would unlawfully pay you in cash so that you could get away with not paying your taxes.” I guess he got the point; I worked with him to get a reasonable payment plan established.
One of my personal favorites came from the ubiquitous “Where’s my Refund?” or as it occasionally doubles, the “Where is my return you crooked dolts!? ” hotline. For the record, you file a “return”; we give you a “refund.” But that’s beside the point.
I went through the standard questions, and after I asked the elderly woman how long ago it was that she mailed her return, her reply was, “I done put it in the mailbox ’bout 10 minutes ago.” I gently reminded her that paper refunds take a bit longer now, anywhere from 12 minutes up to 8 weeks. God bless her.
Sometimes individuals get caught up in these “de-taxing” loopholes. They stray a little too far in their Google search for ‘Form 1040’ and end up on some fool’s web blog, who is trying very hard to blow smoke up the nearest rear end he can find. For a about $20 bucks, he’ll send you his “un-taxing kit”, which, in my opinion, should just cut right to the chase and immediately provide the imprudent participant with a hefty fine and a court date.
It’s amazing how some ill-advised idiot savants will pore over the minutiae of the tax code, come across some supposed revelation, take it out of context, and then stop filing and paying their fair share. Then they get into deeper muck because they become a promoter of these schemes and regrettably get others involved. Check out The Truth about Frivolous Tax Arguments at IRS.gov.
I’ve seen tax returns filled out in crayon. I’ve seen the ever popular pets claimed as deductions, exemptions, or for purposes of depreciation. I’m not sure how one can quantify the depreciation of a guinea pig, but it’s been done. I’ve seen people indicate that they are not citizens of the United States but “Residents of the People’s Populace of the Country of Backwater Mississippi” and of course, exempt from taxes. I’ve had people try to pay me in sheep, quilts, Amish made wheelbarrows, gift cards and Monopoly money. I’ve talked with kids about their parent’s balances, parents about their kid’s balances, and one gentleman who insisted that he was deceased. That was interesting.
IRS and accountant jokes abound. Here’s a few you may have heard already:
“I am involved in a big dispute with the IRS. I say my car should be 100% deductible, they say 50%. I use the front seat for business and the back seat for entertainment.”
“When your ship comes in, it’s always docked by the Government.”
Letterman rolled out a couple of somewhat off-color, but good ones in his “Top Ten Accountant Pick-Up Lines.” Here’s number 2 and number 8: ‘Technically, having sex with me is a charitable gift’ and ‘Lady, you make my pants file for an extension.’
Not to be outdone, Leno once said “The IRS now says you can deduct weight loss plans off your taxes. You can write it off because the government has officially declared obesity a disease. And it’s a disease, you can deduct medical expenses. That shows what a difference an administration can make. See under Bush, obesity is a disease. Under Clinton it was just sexy.”
He went on, “Last night in his speech, President Bush called for a complete overhaul of the tax code. He said he was shocked to find out that some millionaires in this country were still paying taxes… President Bush released his tax returns yesterday. He listed the economy as a liability. He gets to write that off.”
Pretty good stuff, although I think a few of my stories can top those. Now, if you excuse me, I have to answer the phone.