With April 15th upon us, Americans are once again facing the income tax dragon. Time to don the armor, draw our swords, and battle the beast. Due to calendar peculiarities this year, the deadline is actually the 18th of April, the day that hardly a man is now alive who remembers that famous day and year – well, never mind. Paul Revere is so passé.
A recent survey (not conducted in my head, as are most Joe Zone surveys) showed that over 50% of Americans pay someone to prepare their tax returns. Think about that – this means it costs us money to pay Uncle Sam the taxes we owe. Does the phrase “insult added to injury” come to mind? How many of us would pay someone to recruit a stranger to come to our house and take our money? That, in effect, is what we’re doing.
Ben Franklin, long before there was a federal income tax, said that time is money. How much time do you spend on income taxes? Be sure to include recordkeeping throughout the year, gathering records to prepare our tax return, time spent procrastinating, hours huddled whimpering in the corner in dread… And all that before we fill out the return, or meet with a third party who will do it for us.
I don’t want to get all sanctimonious about this, but I feel a bit violated at this time of the year. Can’t Uncle Sam just quietly take my money without disturbing my life and taking up valuable time? And what about the emotional anguish of trying to understand the taxes we’re supposed to pay? There are 74,608 pages in the federal tax code. Nobody – and I mean nobody – understands all of it. In fact, I’d wager that nobody has ever read all 74,608 pages. If you have someone prepare your taxes, ask them how many pages of the code they’ve read. Tell them you’ll pay the same percentage of their fee.
Better yet, tell your congressional representative they can take the percentage of their pay that equates to how many pages of the code they’ve read. After all, the tax code isn’t the fault of the IRS. No, all 74,608 pages come to you courtesy of Congress (which is rather discourteous, in my opinion).
By the way, almost 50,000 of those pages were added in the last 30 years. And the tax code was only 504 pages in 1939 (still too long, in my opinion). So lest we think we would have to exhume many members of Congress to punish them for foisting this travesty on us, well, no, we wouldn’t. I don’t mean to sow more division in our country, but much of the blame rests on the incumbent batch of bozos, both Democratic and Republican. So send them a courteous message telling them what you think about the tax code. Text them that their tax tactics are giving you facial tics. Just be sure to tell them to get to work on a new tax code.
And if the code is more than two pages, tell them to throw it in the trash, and start over.