It was Saturday night, after a long day in the sun at the outstanding Seafood Festival that I woke up in a cold sweat. I had a nightmare. In it two guys in dark blue suits, white shirts, subdued ties and dark sunglasses were at our door. Each one had a briefcase and a bulge under his left arm. They were either government men or the Mafia. I wasn’t sure which scared me more. I opted for the government being worse. At least with the Mafia it would be relatively fast and I would be done for.
I was right. The IRS (Irrational Revenue Service) had dispatched two of their finest to get me. In my nightmare I knew it would not be pleasant. It wasn’t. They started by reminding me that we were only a few weeks away from April 15, and that their scanners showed that my forms were not yet finished. You probably didn’t know this, but my nightmare verified that IRS has scanners on every individual taxpayer (not corporate, see below) to check on progress and other tax points. According to my nightmare if there is any lag in progress or tendency to deduct too many expenses or deductions, the IRS sends two operatives out to “Help the Helpless” (Their copyrighted logo). Help would consist of many things, including steering taxpayers in the “right direction”.
Since I believe, patriotically enough, in paying my fair share of taxes and that I was working on an honest return, I knew deep in my subconscious that I had nothing to worry about. Why, then was I sweating, and why wouldn’t those two guys even crack a smile? Subconscious, schlubconscious, I was REALLY worried.
One of the two looked like Ol’ Sgt. Friday on Dragnet. I waited for him to talk about wanting only the facts. He didn’t fall for that. Instead he said: “We understand from the scanners that you are itemizing your deductions. Right? I mumbled: “Yes, I was planning…” He cut me off, as his grim-faced partner nodded. “You better be real careful, Mister”. I started to say something about my patriotism, but came out a wimp in my nightmare. So I quickly added: “… to be very accurate.”
Then it was the partner’s turn. Unhappily they didn’t play Bad Cop-Good Cop. They were both very Bad Cops. The partner opened his dark blue jacket and just peeking out from his bulletproof vest was the handle of a very large Glock that looked like a howitzer. He said: “We know all about that supposed contribution to the Salvation Army. Mister, who do you think you’re kidding?” I started to question whether it was more grammatically correct to say “whom, not who”, but considering my nightmarish predicament I let it go.
At this point I was really sweating. They knew everything, but didn’t they know that my wife had put an extra $10 in the bucket at Christmas? Did they miss it, and was I headed for trouble? I remembered the time my Sainted Mother, age 89 at the time, received a call from IRS about $170,000 in income she did not declare. There was a good reason for that. She lived on Social Security and what my brother and I could scrape together. I had to handle it with IRS, and I did it by coming clean. I called the IRS agent and told him that I was astonished to learn that the “Little rascal (Mom, that is) was hiding that money from us all those years”. It turned out that the IRS was WRONG and they admitted it (!). They had the wrong Social Security number, and Mom didn’t wind up in the slammer after all. (This is a true story, verifiable by a collect call to my big bro in Las Vegas).
Anyway, the IRS guys in my nightmare weren’t that nice. They left with a last warning: I’d better watch that Salvation Army item, and I only had 20 days to file or get an extension. I woke up just before my primeval scream.
Later in the morning I read my newspaper. In the financial section there was an article reporting that G.E. had profits of $14 billion last year on which they paid NO federal tax.