D. Eric Williams Online

Does Welll In Shaded Areas
© 2003 By D. Eric Williams

According to IRS publication 725436aAbBcC, we have entered that time of year known as "the tax season." I for one prefer to get the whole thing over with as soon as possible. Yet even with an early start, I find that the pressure of dotting each "i" and crossing each "t" has its affect and I invariably make a mistake - or run up against a problem that the official 1040 instruction booklet does not address. For instance; what should I do if I accidently put the peel off name and address label on upside down?

When difficulties of this nature arise, I dial the friendly IRS help line - a department staffed by common houseplants that have been trained to respond to simple commands. But first, one must navigate the menu.

"If you feel your inquiry is truly worthy of our time, press one now."

I press one.

"If you have thought better of your earlier decision to press one, press one now. If you insist on pursuing this course of action, press two now. If you would like to listen to a compendium of recent IRS property seizures and successful court cases, press three now."

Some morbid fascination compels me to press three, but I hang up before I hear anything.

Frankly I think we can do without the IRS. I think we should shift to a voluntary system - you know, donations, like the Salvation Army. It's a well known fact that Americans are a very generous people - millions are donated to various organizations each year. So why not tap into that native generosity and make totalitarian taxation a thing of the past. We would be the envy of the international community - and it would be a lot of fun too.

In this voluntary scheme, each political party would be required to raise their own money for any expenditure they propose in the national budget. To avoid competition with older, established charities, I imagine the new-comers would focus on April Fools and National Boss Day as key periods for solicitation. Thus, a wholly volunteer approach to taxation would bring a festive atmosphere (which is currently lacking), to these important civic holidays. The malls and Walmarts all over America would be crowded with bell ringers wearing jackass and elephant costumes. Politicians with a knack for effective marketing could stage "Your Picture with Uncle Jumbo" or "Your Picture with Cousin Hee-Haw" events where children would line up to tell the political icon of their choice what they want for local entitlements.

There could be a spiritual - shall we say redemptive - side to this as well: if former IRS attorneys were hired as bell ringers, their close contact with America at its best may bring about a metaphysical awakening - sort of an evolutionary advance - enabling them to transcend the phylum arthropoda once and for all.

Perhaps some of our elected representatives would turn out to be a bit squeamish about standing for hours outside Walmart ding-a-linging for dollars. Well then, if they would rather raise support through free market activities, have at it. For instance, some may decide to open used car lots to raise money for their pet project - or for their election campaign. The more successful political entrepreneurs might even go national.

"Looking for a great deal on used cars and trucks!?! Get on down to Howard 'Tarzan' Dean's National Auto Sales!!! We guarantee the lowest prices in New Hampshire, in South Carolina, in Missouri, in Arizona, in North Dakota - Yaaaaaarrrrrrrrgh!!!! The best prices in Idaho, in Washington..." and so on.

So, what are we to do until this tax utopia arrives? Well, I suggest that we all learn to navigate the IRS culture - brush up on its customs and ritual. And, in case you ever need to call the IRS help line, it might not be a bad idea to spend some quality time with your African Violet as well.





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