by Mike McHugh
I have an accountant friend who I saw today for the first time in months. Bleary-eyed, pale from lack of sun, and in dire need of a cold one though he could barely grip it due to severe carpal tunnel, he looked as if he’d just been a contestant on an office version of “Survivor.” It happens every year about this time, and it’s how I know that income tax season is finally over.
I’ve never met a person who admits to being happy with our current tax system. Rather, they all complain about the precious hours wasted in filling out endless forms—hours which could otherwise be put to much better use, such as answering Facebook quizzes to find out what kind of cheese you are based on your personality.
It’s clear that the vast majority of Americans think that our behemoth income tax code ought to be tied around Justin Bieber’s waist and dropped into shark-infested waters. So then how is it that it’s still alive and well and squeezing the life out of us like a 20-foot Burmese python? Isn’t this a democracy ruled the will of the people?
Don’t be silly. If you were awake during civics class in high school, you’ll recall that the way it works is that we elect representatives and tell them what we want them to do. They promptly hightail it to Washington and say, “The hell with what they want! They never offered me a flight on a private jet to play golf in Scotland. But the nice lobbyist for the banana slug farmers did, and so I’m going to give him those carry-forward depreciation credits for salt-related losses that he requested.”
I’ve heard lots of ideas tossed around for simplifying the tax code. There’s the Flat Tax, the Fair Tax—now who would be against something called a Fair Tax? Well, those banana slug farmers, that’s who. They don’t see it as fair, and neither do the 30 million other special interests who ponied up for custom designed lollipops in the existing code.
I heard one presidential candidate say that he’d like to simplify tax filing to the point where you can send it in on a postcard. I love that idea. If it ever happened, I’d send the IRS a picture postcard from Key West with the following message:
“Dear IRS Commissioner:
I’m having a great time here in Key West squandering my anticipated tax refund, which I figure this year to be $37,412 or thereabouts. You may direct deposit the money to my checking account, or better still, establish a prepaid tab in that amount for me here at the Hog’s Breath Saloon. But please hurry, as the bartender is having a hard time believing me when I tell him I have the money coming, and I’m about ready for another margarita. Better yet, deliver the cash personally and you can have one on me.”
If they don’t end up simplifying the tax code, then I’ll have to work out some other angle. Maybe I can take my congressman on a deep-sea fishing trip and convince him to write in a credit for margarita salt. He shouldn’t mind, so long as I promise to keep it a safe distance from any banana slug farms.
© 2015 by Mike McHugh