Tax time is upon us.
Julius Caesar was told to beware the Ides of March but I think he just had the month wrong and was so fed up with taxes when the 15th rolled around he just intentionally ran into Brutus’ knife — 17 times.
This is the time of year when the IRS — the Income Reduction Service — has its moment of glory. Technically you could say the moment of glory was when they put Al Capone in prison for income tax evasion when the guvmint could not make a case against him for killing people.
The lesson here is death may be final but taxes are forever. The way to tell the difference between the two is the tax man usually dresses a little better.
The amazing thing is every year we hear the politicians howl about restructuring the tax code and simplifying the process. The primary result from this is enough hot air to float every balloon in Arizona.
The difficulty is that when you talk about making the tax code sensible and doing away with the morass, at some point a cut, exemption or loophole will be removed that people are using to their advantage. This means they will fight with hoof and horn to keep it in place.
So we end up with a lot of people with ongoing rants about making the tax structure fairer and simpler but a population of individuals who focus on the small part that will help them.
This makes perfect sense in the real world but the end result is we pull out the pencil and calculator every year and go through what amounts to a five-hour prostate examination.
Not that I’m advocating anarchy but it would be interesting if everyone in the country wrote “NO” in big red letters on their tax returns one year and sent them in. You can bet the next year the politicians would get serious.
Nowadays, of course, more and more people are filing electronically. This seems far too impersonal and convenient and I want the IRS to know I’m suffering.
Finding a way to save an extra dollar is never a bad thing when dealing with the guvmint.
I considered trying to claim lost golf balls should be a business expense because the way I play golf is a lot like work and this seemed to me to be a reasonable business loss. Somehow I get the feeling the IRS would not be amused.
It should also be noted the IRS does not consider cold beer a medical expense, even though there are times it may be critical to overall good mental health.
The desire to fudge on your taxes is within us all, like a hanging chad of DNA that we don’t want to admit we have. But most of us accept the fact that if you cheat sooner or later you will get caught and I suspect the lessons of ol’ Al serve as a deterrent.
And it may be that because the tax code is so convoluted and confusing if you make an error it is completely reasonable to claim it was an honest mistake.
If we had a simple and easy to understand tax code and you cheat and get caught, you would have to admit it was on purpose and then you get the Al Capone suite.
So perhaps we should not complain and accept the meandering mess for what it is: a system so fouled up even tax experts get confused and can’t understand it all and our fearless leaders will forever bellow on about fixin’ the system. Such is tax time.
Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at Rlatarski@aol.com.