Death and Taxes. Ah, yes. The two inevitable givens in life. We can’t escape either end for very long. And, once again, the depressing season of tax preparation and gnashing of teeth is upon us.
Pop Quiz: I prepare my own returns because I’m: a) Cheap, b) Fond of frustration, c) Just as smart as Zippy, the new kid down at the Tax Depot, d) Delusional as a rabid ferret on acid, or e) all of the above. Guilty on all counts. How hard can this be? I settled in at the keyboard, worked on plugging all the right numbers in the correct boxes in my tax return, and I entered a fuzzy caffeinated haze of tax forms, Schedule C’s and numbered boxes. Dizzy and fuzzy-headed, I felt like a twisted reenactment of Noah, gathering receipts, two by two. I got a sharp cramp in my neck and the light from the computer screen flashed.
Then it happened…
A deep booming voice spoke to me,
Voice: “In the beginning, there was darkness. Then man made money and it was good.”
Voice: “No. It is I, the Prophet Saul.”
Me: “Saul? Like the biblical Saul?”
Voice: “Yeah, sort of. I am Saul Caperstein from the IRS. I shall call thee Taxpayer. Why hast thou not filed your tax return?”
Me: “I’m working on it. Book sales have been okay, but I need some deductions to offset the meager publishing royalties.”
Voice: “Thou shall not claim your dogs as dependents.”
Me: “Why? They are like family and have you tried to pick up after a pair of Corgis? They’re expensive–”
Voice: “Silence! Just work with me here. You can’t claim them.”
Me: “Whatever. Would you accept burnt Corgi poop offerings as payment?”
Voice: “I shall unleash a plague of auditors upon thee.”
Me: “Tell me what you need me to do.”
Voice: “Thou shall not claim charitable deductions for cash given to Candy at the Spearmint Rhino.”
Me: “It was research.”
Voice: “Thou hast not written any stripper character in any of your books.”
Me: “Fine. What else?”
Voice: “Thou shall not have off-shore accounts in the Caymans.”
Me: “No problem. You need cash for that.”
Voice: “Thou shall not claim Twitter or Facebook as Religious Institutions.”
Me: “Why not? We all come together, for a single purpose–”
Me: “Again? You like saying that.”
Me: “What now? How are you going to know what I deduct anyway?”
Voice: “Have thou not heard of the N.S.A?”
Me: “That figures. What else?”
Voice: “Thou shall not have an adjusted gross income higher than three-percent above poverty level.”
Me: “You’ve made certain of that. Are we done here?”
Voice: “Thou shall sign the check for your payment to the IRS this time, for we are wise to your stalling tactics and shall penalize you with the fiery torment of the devil of compounded interest.”
Me: “So, can I get an extension of 40 days and 40 nights?”
Voice: “Thou must pay with the extension, so it does thou no good.”
Me: “So, I’m screwed, is what you’re saying.”
Voice: “Go in peace, Taxpayer.”
The computer monitor flickered once more and an odor of sulfur lingered in the room. Before me, the tax forms and worksheets glistened with wet ink, fresh off the printer. When did that happen? I didn’t fill them in, or hit print. A paranormal tax preparer? Did the Prophet Saul move my hand across the keyboard in a demonic tax possession? I’ll never know.
I’ll send my check in with the return. If I don’t sign it, I get a couple of extra weeks until the IRS figures that out, right? Who am I to question divine intervention?
Thanks for another laugh, James. Love your writing style (and sense of humor)
Thanks Diane! it is the giving season after all. And the blog makes for a nice break from the darker fiction I usually write.
Hahaha! My husband just finished our taxes – drove him a bit bonkers too. Great post!
Thanks Jan. Why, for the love of God, do they make it so difficult. I wonder if they would consider making it more like penance? You know, go listen to five hours of Yanni, and we’ll call it even on the return.
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[…] year I heard voices when I prepared my taxes. This year the tax man need to cometh with a complimentary bottle of Scotch to wash away the […]
Ugh. Taxes! I still have to do mine. When you first said “Saul” I thought you were going to refer to Better Call Saul! (ha) I think I need his help. Thanks for the fun post. :O)
Saul Goodman would be a welcome partner this year. Better Call Saul is hilarious show and I’m glad season 2 is here!