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 [ BACK]  [NEXT]                       Issue #035 - 04/13/1997

A Taxing Time...

Tax & IRS Stories.

Hello again, everyone!
     It's that time of the year when we all have to pay our taxes
here in the US.  So everyone here is rushing around to get tax
forms and get them sent off before the deadline on April 15th. 
The Post Offices get really busy this time of year, maybe even
busier than at Christmas.  And the Postal Service plays along
with it, too.  There will be the usual pictures of postal clerks
standing outside on the streets collecting tax forms from long
lines of cars up until midnight on tax day.  There is no real
reason for this, of course, but the Postal Service plays along to
get the free publicity.
     Thanks this week to Howard Lesniak, Bob Martens and Peter
Adler, always steady contributors to this silliness.  Now on to
see what the tax people might be up to...  And I should get this
sent, so I can work on those forms!
     Have a great week!

P.S.  We had a wind storm last week here in Wauwatosa that
produced a sign funny.  The 'Open Hearth' restaurant on 117th
street here lost it's final 'H' to become the 'Open Heart'. 
Sounds like a place for surgeons to gather, doesn't it?


     Many people have claimed over the years that "Government
should be run like a business."  Maybe US Government tax
collection should copy the example of one of our most successful
businesses.  Here is what the Internal Revenue Service (the tax
folks - nobody's favorite government agency) might be like, if
the IRS were run like - Microsoft Corporation...


  -- The IRS announces new tax forms will be mailed the week
     before the new year.  However it will follow Microsoft's
     example and actually ship them in May, four weeks after the
     tax deadline.

  -- Responding to pressure from some large corporations and a
     users' group, some early copies of the tax forms will
     actually be released in March, but those who get them must
     sign non-disclosure agreements.

  -- In June, the forms will be recalled because the IRS loses a
     suit for copying ideas from some other country's forms.

  -- When you move, the IRS will continue to send mail to your
     previous address forever, just like Microsoft sends its
     product upgrade notices. 

  -- You will pay a fee for each upgrade from the short tax form
     1040 EZ.  Also you need to send in a new registration card
     and get a new Tax Payer Number.  In order to upgrade, you
     have to submit the original first page of your previous
     year's form.

  -- The new IRS will require that you buy new appliances for
     your home every two years or so, because the old ones are no
     longer supported.

  -- Like Microsoft, when you file a late or amended tax return
     the IRS will reject it on the grounds that the prior year is
     no longer supported.

  -- The IRS telephone help will remain similar to Microsoft's,
     staffed by ill-trained, high-turnover personnel who only
     rarely give correct or complete answers, and you will be put
     on hold for long periods of time.  (Hmm... That's not much
     different from now!)

  -- After struggling with hundreds of pages of dense
     documentation, you discover that you will need publication
     3297, with a ten-word-long title, in order to answer a
     single odd question.  The IRS will charge a minimum of $40
     for that publication, just like Microsoft.

  -- Every new tax form will look completely different from the
     old one, and will have different features.  Tax forms will
     be changed at least every two years in order to make people
     buy new ones.

  -- The IRS will continue to issue huge volumes of problem
     fixes, interpretations, and clarifications.  However
     tax-rule updates should be neither easily searchable nor

  -- Instead of three-ring binders containing complete sets of
     tax code bugs and interpretations, IRS rulings will be given
     out only by individual taxpayers via BBS, Usenet, and

  -- The new all-powerful (and eccentric) Commissioner of
     Internal Revenue will jet around the country giving speeches
     and granting interviews, but only to reporters who already
     agree with him.  Changes to the tax code will be at the whim
     of the Commissioner and mostly kept secret until they are


     Usually, events from my private life influence what goes
into the Funnies.  This week is a good example, when a friend of
mine had a big win in a long-running court case.  Some pretty
funny things happen in courtrooms.  Attorneys get so wrapped up
in asking the questions that they forget to listen to the answers
or they ask questions about things they really don't understand. 
So, here are some more examples of crazy courtroom transcripts:


     A forest ranger was being questioned by the opposing
attorney, who was asking what kind of grades there were in the
area. "There are places that are pretty steep," he said. "In some
places the slope is 70, 80, sometimes over 100 percent."

     The opposing attorney pounced on this. "Can you give me an
example of a slope over 100 percent?" -- all the while thinking,
"I've got him here. Nothing can be over 100 percent."

     The ranger leaned back in his chair, stroking his chin for a

     "Umm ... 120 percent?"

     The courtroom burst into laughter, and the case was settled

     [ By the way, 120% slope is about 50 degrees of angle - not
       even a very steep cliff. ]


Q: What was your attorney's name?

A: It was John Smith, right here in Tampa.

LAWYER 1: Right out the window.  [He means the next building...]

THE WITNESS: Right. So what I'm getting --

LAWYER 2: Let the record be clear that Mr. Smith is not hanging
   out the window.

THE WITNESS: I don't know. Knowing John, he could be.


Q: And the serratus anterior nerve that -- or the nerves that go
   to it, where do they come from?

A: The neck, the cervical region.

Q: From the cervical region?

A: Yes.

Q: And did you do any examination of his cervical -- of his
   cervix -- to determine if there was any problem with his
   nerves going through his neck?

A: He doesn't have a cervix, but, yes, I examined the biceps.


Q: Do you recall discussing with John Smith that if you were in a
   deposition or anything like that and you don't want to give
   the right answer, all you have to say is, "I don't know. I
   don't recall"?

A: No. I don't remember.


A: There are very few production places in North Dakota.

ATTORNEY: Generally speaking, there are very few PLACES in North

Q: Have you tried any type of rehabilitation or work retraining?

A: No. No, sir.

Q: Why not?

A: Because I ain't too bright.


Q: And Detroit Murphy -- what is that? Is that a school or -- 

A: It's Mercy, not Murphy.

Q: Oh, Mercy?

A: I'm sorry. Yeah, Mercy.

Q: Oh, I'm sorry. Mercy.

A: Yeah, Detroit Mercy is a college, and they do it like through
   the Jesuit priests program. They do things with young boys.


Q: How far apart are the rungs on the ladder?

A: They're usually about 12 inches to a foot.


A: Mr. Jones and I had had a disagreement, the exact nature of
   which I don't remember, but it was over some aspect of my work
   that he wanted me to perform in a manner different than, I
   guess, I was performing it. And Mr. Jones -- excuse my
   language coming up -- Mr. Jones said, "If you f**k with me,
   I'll kill you."

Q: When he said, "If you f**k with me, I'll kill you," how did
   you interpret that?


Q: Has anybody else ever threatened to kill you?

A: No. Somebody put a gun to my neck once, but I don't think he
   threatened to use it.

Q: Was that in an employment contact or not?

A: No. It was a social contact.


Q: So the first thing that you heard was the one that you
   overheard with Mr. Jones stating that he didn't want any women
   in his department. And then second time when you were in this
   exact conversation would have been after the first time?


Q: And what was the reason given to you for the fact you were let
   go? [i.e. fired]

A: The reason given to me was garnishing a knife and arguing with
   the supervisor.


Q: I would like you to turn to the next page, dated June 9, 1993.

A: Yes.

Q: Do you recall this incident occurring?

A: Yes. The night before that I had eaten at Beachcomber's
   Restaurant. And I had crab. And I had vomited in the --

Q: I assure you on this question a simple "Yes" or "No" will do.


Q: Do you consider him to be competent in that area?

A: I don't know. I don't have any basis to remark about the
   competency of his engineering. I do know he's dead.


Q: Is there a difference between a reconditioned and rebuilt
   piece of equipment in your mind, if you have one?


Q: Oh, okay. So you had a conversation with Mr. Smith about the
   SeaTower at some point --

A: Yes.

Q: -- prior to his death?


Q: Why do you handle the family finances?

A: Because my mom and sister ain't that bright.

     [ The defence rests... ]
© 1997 by Bill Becwar. All Rights Reserved.