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Front Page » January 20, 2004 » Opinion » Tax time has its foibles and its certainties as well
Published 3,746 days ago

Tax time has its foibles and its certainties as well


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate

It's tax time

When I came home from work last night I looked in the mail box and there it was.

The 2003 tax planner from my accountant.

I knew it was coming but the day it would arrive often varies a little, sometime between Jan. 5 and Jan. 20 of each new year.

Even if I hadn't known what time of year it was I could eaasily tell because other documents relating to tax time had already taken up residence on the counter in my den in the same place I have stored them for the first three months of every year for a very long time.

Now, what I term the "hail of mail" will start to arrive at an ever increasing pace. Up through the beginning of February I will get some kind of statement from someone almost every day about money I have made, spent, frittered away or given to some goodly group (sorry, but the government does not qualify to be in that final category).

Mostly the documents will be concerned with money I made.

One year I got a statement for two cents I earned for the year from a bank where I kept an minimal account just to cash checks that were sent to me by a company from Great Britain that I wrote free lance articles for. My regular bank didn't handle checks made out in British pounds, so I had opened that account just to take care of those payments. I used to go in there and tie up the time of one of the nice women in the front of the institution for a half an hour while she checked conversion rates and what the dollar was worth compared to the pound at that moment. It was the only time in my life that I watched the CNN currency report, because they would provide the rates each morning. Sometimes I would hang onto a check for a couple of weeks before taking it in just to make an extra quarter. In actuality, however, it was more like playing slot machines in Reno because often the rate didn't go up, it went down, and down and down. In most cases Queen Elizabeth got the better end of the deal when I finally did cash it.

I finally did make it worthwhile for that bank to do business with me however. After a few years I moved all my accounts there but as much as I bug them I am certain they probably wish I had stayed with my previous "financial partner."

So far this tax season I have received my forms from the state (on Jan. 2 to be exact) and an interest statement on a piece of property. Of course the state form had a picture of a family on the front of it. I guess state tax officials decided if they made the package all warm and fuzzy I might feel better about it. However wolves and polar bears look all warm and fuzzy too; but they also have big teeth and sharp claws .

My favorite forms that I get this time of year are the ones that threaten me. You know the "we are reporting these earnings to the Internal Revenue Service as required by law 56-345-897-432-765-2134-876-123-654-876..." type of exclamation on the bottom of the page. I guess they still figure there are some citizens out there that don't know the IRS is the strongest arm of the government and has the power to dismember you and scatter your remains to all parts of the world to which the CIA can take them if you try to defraud them of even one Washington faced bill.

As far as I am concerned there are two things you don't mess around with in life. One is a mother whose kid's name you spelled wrong in the paper and the other is the IRS. Actually I have developed quite a good relationship with the tax collector over the years... he takes all my money and then leaves me alone.

That's certainly a better fate than living a small cell in Levenworth, Kan. for 20 years.


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