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Unprompted: Checks and Balances and Taxes 

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The Internal Revenue Service, God bless ’em. The agency is in such disarray it can’t do its job. Which of course is to get our money so the government can pay for all the things we said we wanted but can’t afford.

We’ve all heard horror tales about audits. But the IRS has been depleted of staff to the point that hardly anyone gets audited anymore. There’s nobody on the job! Yet we fear the IRS more than we do ISIS. Why? Nowadays you could write off your parakeet and the IRS wouldn’t know the difference.

Of course if you do get audited you’re automatically guilty. One does not go into the woods in search of deer without returning with a buck, or at least a rabbit. IRS agents wouldn’t want to waste your time just to find nothing. So when it happens, don’t fight it. Just throw up your hands and write a check. There’s no one on this green earth who understands tax law, least of all those who write it. Just pay up and be thankful they didn’t question your parakeet.

The tax code runs tens of thousands of pages of intentionally too small type just in case somebody tries to read it. No one ever has. There are more interpretations of tax law than there are fundamentalist preachers trying to understand the book of Revelation. As a matter of fact there is a secret app built into the law that specifies if Congress ever goes two hours without adding a regulation, the app known as Sneaky-Poo will add something automatically. Doesn’t matter what. Again, nobody reads the damn thing anyway.

The IRS estimates that at least $2 billion owed to it will go uncollected this year. In a way that’s OK, because the government would only squander the money on some program that doesn’t work or a new fighter jet that won’t fight. After all, it’s only money.

Some people try to do their own taxes. That’s kind of like trying to do your own root canal. You’ll get results but probably not what you had in mind. Of course you can always call the IRS for help. Good luck with that. Of those who manage to get through, the answers they get are likely to be wrong. You can also go to the local IRS office and get in line. When the office closes at the end of the day your wait is over because you have to leave without getting anywhere. The people there to help you are just glad to get the hell out of Dodge.

There’s a good chance if you make less than a million dollars a year that the IRS won’t fool with you. That’s good because the chances are most of us make less than a million dollars a year, unless we play for the NBA or work in the front office of the World Soccer Federation. I suppose I should toss in college presidents to make sure I have everybody covered.

So, what do we do about this mess we’ve gotten ourselves into? Well for one thing, we need to get rid of the idea that the more one makes the more one pays. That’s just illogical. Why should a rich guy have to pay more for a jet fighter than I do? We don’t do that for anything else. We all pay the same for utilities, be we rich or poor. We pay the same for insurance, mattresses … whatever we buy, the seller actually prefers that we be poor so we can be wrestled into monthly payments with ridiculous interest rates. So, lets throw away the tax laws and let the millions of people who earn their living trying to figure them out get real jobs. Then the annual trauma of April 15 will be a thing of the past, kind of like good sense.

Instead I propose that we make monthly payments to our beloved government, just like our car loan. If it gets to be more than we can afford, no problem. We’ll just borrow the difference. It doesn’t matter what the interest rate is because we aren’t going to pay it anyway. The real cost of living in this country ’tis of thee will be passed on to our kids who aren’t paying attention. That may sound like a harsh thing.

But really, how is it different than what we’re doing now? S

Gene Cox is an author and inventor who recently retired from a 35-year career as a television anchor in Richmond. Connect with him at letters@styleweekly.com, or on Twitter at @genecoxrva.

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