Monday, April 1, 2013

April Fools

Here we are once again in the month of April. Now for those who didn't already know it, April is famous annually for two of its days, the 1st and the 15th.  The one is all about having a joke played on you that scares the hell out of you, while simultaneously making you look like an idiot.  The other is April Fools Day.  

I write regularly on various aspects of the national pickpocketing effort perpetrated by the government on all levels by way of taxation, so you'd think that I would have an increased level of immunity to machinations involved with such high jinks.  You would sadly be wrong.  (In my own defense, I also believe in the Easter Bunny, but couldn't likewise help but notice that I was without a wicker carrier full of chocolate-covered stuff and marshmallow peeps yesterday.)  

The truth of the matter however, is that there is no form immunity where this national caper is concerned, and the knowledge of its existence is no proof against falling for such annual antics.  In my case in fact, rather than wait until a mere two weeks before the mandated IRS deadline as we are now, I set myself as victim for the pratfall weeks ago.  While doing so, I in fact congratulated myself on beginning the process almost immediately after the tax rates had been firmly established by the delinquent efforts of Congress at dealing once and for all with the Bush Tax Rates in my apparent desire for victimhood.  Without a grumble and with nary a groan, I took up the process of self-abuse, dutifully took the deductions granted meby legislators and bureaucrats (legaleeze for additional crumbs of my own money that my government 'allows' me to keep) who saw it as their duty to impose their will upon me, and accepted my due as a 'tax serf'.  

Before I knew it, I had completed not only the required annual federal paperwork, but those required of me for the Sunflower State as well.  (Mission, KS does not yet have a city income tax, temporary or otherwise, a blessing for which I am pleased and grateful.)  Both were duly computer-checked and electronically submitted, courtesy of a nationally recognized tax firm, and I was feeling rather pleased with myself.  It was only as I began to think about putting together an effort this weekend (delayed so as not to impose on a religious holiday weekend) that I began to at last see the error of my ways.

Without realizing it, I had fallen into the trap expected of the very sheeple I often castigate.  Not only had I complacently and ungrudgingly conceded a significant part of my income to the waste, fraud, and thievery annually committed in the name of 'paying our fair share' through bi-weekly confiscation; but having done so, I had likewise fallen into the simplest of traps ... the now happy anticipation of a REFUND.  Ignoring what should have been bitter resentment not only for paying, but for overpaying for the few things absolutely required of government (and a lot of crap that these days seems must of necessity come along with it); I was instead happy and grateful for the return of that overpayment.  

That's the mindset that too many of us have in the increasingly subjugated serfdom into which we are born.  Like the illiterates of the Dark Ages, we are often little more than peasants burdened with a tax system that we've never had control of, whose complication is cunningly added to each year in the name of simplification, and which we now have no real hope of ever understanding (something I'm convinced is done by design) as we simply bow our heads in humble acceptance of the rules.  

Worse still is our pitiful reaction to any portion of our hard-earned money that's finally returned to us.  I in fact, was drooling over the prospect of such a government check (OK, direct deposit) as if it were a long-overdue Christmas gift; and not the grudging return of money by Washington and Topeka only weeks after asking for it back, as if it were theirs and not mine in the first place.  I was just beginning to become more angry at being the willing mark in this tired jest when it occurred to me in my complacency that I had yet to consider a potential audit.  I cowered once more while realizing that the government allows itself not only this second bite at the apple which could take away that which had chosen to bestow upon me; but has the ability and was more than willing to charge interest and penalty if it later discovered any underpayment, regardless of the reasons involved.  As for itself, there is of course no interest that accrues to any money that the government holds throughout the year in overpayment.  And in this fear I marvelled that we demand no redress of such disparity in treatment; because as victims of this now 100 year-old prank we've long-since accepted that the joke is on us, that the game is rigged so the house will always win, and that we'll never understand how and why this is or have the ability to change it.  

I suspect that all of this will make me mostly immune to the petty pranks that I expect to occur on this first day of April.  Oh some may engender some mild form of temporary surprise, but nothing that compares with the more permanent shock of that whose damage whose deadline is now two weeks away.  While I'm sure that I'm as susceptible as anyone to the day's practicle jokes, it's that in the grand scheme, they mean little.  For more troubling to me is that I've discovered myself to be part of the lowing herd that finds itself the annual victim of the horseplay of the Internal Revenue Service.  The sad fact of the matter is that in this country there is no escape from the ill-favored escapades that constitute taxation in this country.  As a consequence, the sorry truth is that when it comes to the shenanigans that occur on the 15th, we are all of us ... April Fools.