I was going through some old documents that my mother had kept and came across my dad’s income tax forms from 1942.
Their simplicity was something to behold.
One could actually understand the instructions, and his completing them likely did not include the muttered phrases and oaths that are now a common accompaniment to the process.
I once wrote that, if you wanted to grasp what’s happened to us in the realm of tax laws, just imagine hiring a contractor to build your home. Imagine discovering that he was deranged, duplicitous, daft, disturbed and demented. Imagine the house that would be built. Congress and the tax code. Same thing.
A very observant individual once noted that: (1) God needed only two tablets to give us rules to live by; (2) Abe Lincoln managed the Gettysburg Address in a few hundred words; (3) The Bible, the Talmud and the Koran each contain several hundred-thousand words governing the manner in which civilized people should conduct themselves from. Our tax code, however, runs to several million words and is such a mess that even those who wrote it probably go to bed at night with headaches.
And so, after years of banging my head against my desk while preparing my forms, I finally gave up.
I gave up and, then, purchased the first in a long line of tax preparation programs designed to help get me through the morass and, now, I let the programmers at that company do the muttering and head banging.
Still, if you asked me to swear on a stack of bibles that I’d dotted all of the “i’s” and crossed all of the “t’s,” I couldn’t swear to it. I doubt that anyone can.
Even though I understand the need for taxes and am willing to pay for the services I expect from government, I’m still frustrated by the lunacy of our current system. And, to ease my suffering, I’ve found that I’m in good company.
To wit, a few observations:
“Did you ever notice that when you put the words ‘The’ and ‘IRS’ together, it spells “Theirs?” — Author Unknown
“The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf. Even when you make a tax form out on the level, you don’t know when it’s through if you are a crook or a martyr.” — Will Rogers
“If Patrick Henry thought that taxation without representation was bad, he should see how bad it is with representation.” — Farmer’s Almanac
“Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.” — Herman Wouk
“The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.” — Will Rogers
“The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest amount of feathers with the least amount of hissing.” — Jean-Baptiste Colbert
“If you master your destiny, you will find out there is a destiny tax.” — Joseph Bonkowski
“Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut saves you 30 cents?” — Peg Bracken
“This is too difficult for a mathematician. It takes a philosopher. The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.” — Albert Einstein
“If Congress were to pass a ‘flat’ tax, you’d simply pay a fixed percentage of your income, and you wouldn’t have to fill out any complicated forms, and there would be no loopholes for politically connected groups, and normal people would actually understand the tax laws, and giant talking broccoli stalks would come around and mow your lawn, because Congress is not going to pass a flat tax.” — Dave Barry
“The best government is the one that charges you the least blackmail for leaving you alone.” — Thomas Rudman-Brown
“The United States is the only country where it takes more brains to figure your tax than to earn the money to pay it.” — Edward J. Gurney
“There is a difference between a tax collector and a taxidermist — the taxidermist leaves the hide.” — Mortimer Caplan
“Teach your kids about taxes. Eat 20 percent of their ice cream.” — Seen on a T-shirt
Tomorrow is April 15 — tax day.
It’s never going to get any better, is it?
Larry Simoneaux lives in Edmonds. Send comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org