Clobberin' Time

The Fifteenth of April

by Elmo (Sixteenth Amendment) Spludd

Long, long ago, in a land far, far away, there was no federal income tax.

The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed in 1913, authorizing Congress to establish a system for levying a federal income tax.

All I can figure is that in 1913, people were just plain stupid. Think about it. You need three-fourths of the states to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. What in the name of all that is holy were they thinking about back then? Today, you can't even get the states to ratify an amendment giving equal rights to women. That's just too controversial. But back then, they lined up enough of them to create the Internal Revenue Service.

I'd like some political scientist to explain to me in plain English how this happened. And now, thanks to those Progressive Era morons, I have to go through one day of sheer hell every April to avoid getting my pee-pee slapped by the IRS.

It's not that I've got a problem paying income taxes. Governments are considerate enough to deduct them from my paychecks. I don't even really notice it anymore. Even the City of Port Urine gets a little chunk of my check. I don't really care all that much, considering all the wonderful services I receive in exchange. Then there are all those other taxes I pay that I never really think about, like every time I buy gasoline, cigarettes, beer, or luxury yachts. No big deal. It's all so painless.

But that's not good enough for them. Even after spending the whole damn year quietly siphoning away my livelihood, they expect me to spend the better part of a day (usually April 15) filling out reams of elaborate forms, written in some language that only accountants can understand, and rush down to the post office in the middle of the night to mail what usually turns out to be a check for the taxes I STILL OWE.

The only thing that saves me from a complete mental breakdown at this time of year is the fact that I'm basically pretty poor. What pittance I earn all comes from wages. No capital gains, no interest income, no dividends-- just another happy little wage-earner trotting off to work every morning so the bill collectors and the ex-wife will stop whining for another couple of weeks. So when I finally sit down and "do my taxes," it's pretty simple--unless I want to BREAK EVEN, in which case I have to take a crash course in rocket science to figure out how to finesse these forms in a technically legal fashion and keep the tax man off my back for another year.

My mother, God rest her soul, was audited about a year before she died. Now there's no doubt about it, my mother cheated like a bandit on her taxes. I should know, because I helped her do it a few times. When you're on a fixed income, and you're saving Alpo coupons even though you don't own a dog, it's pretty much a necessary evil. But what really burned me about the whole sorry affair was that they went after her for something she actually didn't lie about. It took her about six months, twenty phone calls, ten letters, and a lot of grief, but she beat the bastards.

My mother wasn't around in 1913, but if she had been, I think she would have been busy writing a lot of really irate letters to politicians.


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