de Vos: File, don’t chisel
The Friday Report
With more employees than the post office, Wal-Mart, IBM, McDonalds and Citigroup combined, the IRS costs us about $431 billion annually. All this money is spent to collect taxes according to rules, regulations and footnotes found in the 74,608 pages of the federal tax code. Tax-time temps get two weeks to go over all of them before being put on the phone to answer your questions.
The task of the IRS is to take money from people unwilling to part with it. It stands to reason that amongst 150,000,000 tax returns filed in the U.S. one of them, perhaps even more, would try to slip in a deceased grandpa or an extra kid or two. If you are the type to cut corners on taxes, you’ll cheer the news that budget cuts since 2010 have eliminated 10,000 IRS enforcement jobs. This means you’re about 25% less likely to be audited. Of course, on the flip side, agents aren’t there to prevent international transfer abuses by large multinational corporations amounting to more than $130 billion a year, meaning honest folks like you, and naturally, me, fill the gap.
The other day a letter from the IRS tumbled out of my post office box. I carried it home like an evil serpent, but after opening and reading it, I gave a little cry of joy. They weren’t after me at all. I got down on my knees, thanking God. They were only after my mom. They wanted me to rat out her new address because their threatening letters had been coming back from her old place in Arizona. According to them, she was behind six years on her taxes and they were getting excitable because she left no forwarding address.
“Go mom!” was all I could think.
Problem was, she shuffled off this mortal coil six years ago and, as far as her new address, I was pretty certain that my interesting mother of five was sitting comfortably in some celestial bridge marathon, second star to the right and straight on till morning. I wrote a heartfelt note back to the IRS explaining that my mother was a very polite person who never neglected her responsibilities but she’d been very busy as a dead person, dividing her time her time between penance-a-point bridge and harp practice. I promised to look for her, but I did caution them, though, that if I spoke to her, it would probably mean the end of my taxes too. However, it was pretty likely I’d wind up in a different zip code.
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Curiously, I think the IRS knows that my mother passed away because they added DEC’D behind her name. I figured that meant ‘deceased’. I suppose they’re trying to relieve pressure on the debt ceiling by saving the cost of ink in the four missing letters. But if they know my mother is deceased, and they want her new address, why did they caution in big bold print that no address changes could be made without her signature?
I don’t think they want my mother’s address to send her happy birthday cards. It’s more likely they wanted to be sure they had extracted every possible cent from her withered hide before burying her file.
Here’s a fundamental problem with the way we do taxes: the system relies heavily upon citizens reporting accurately how much they want to send to Congress at the same time there’s growing support for putting Congress in the next parade.
Right behind the lemmings
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