We've got no farm to sell. The book business is a bust and writing has been limited to this column. (Yes, they do pay me to write it!) So I don't have much to declare.
But we like to do our share to keep Medicare and Social Security alive and to see that all of the farm programs get funded.
Trouble is we've got wars going in Iraq and Afghanistan which are gobbling up our dollars and so our little pittance hardly seems worth the work it takes to get Form 2006 in the mail.
But we'll do it because Uncle Sam and the IRS wants us to – and we don't want to get at odds with them.
The income tax code is all Greek to me, so I've got to get professional help. If I do it, I won't know whether we're paying too much – or too little. However, we've got faith in our tax preparer, so we've got little to do except to sign on the appropriate line.
But first we must give him all the facts of our year, financial-wise – and that's where my dilemma comes in. What deductions are admissible? Do I claim the time spent in research for this column? It's mind-boggling, believe me!
I read where the big corporations deal in millions and billions of dollars, so it makes sense for their legions of accountants to look for the loopholes. But when you're talking about our piddly amount, does the time spent preparing for it mean much?
I've been audited once – when we were making some money – and I can tell you, it's mighty scary! It's the U.S. government against me and the majority usually wins.
You try to figure out what you did wrong. You can't sleep without thinking about it. Did I take an improper deduction? Did my figures add up wrong? (I once flunked math.) What did I do to get the IRS to send an agent to see me?
I could see myself in prisoner's garb making little rocks out of big ones. but I didn't have to worry. The audit went okay and I didn't get thrown into a debtor's dungeon.
Now that's all over. Social Security is my only income, except for this column and a few interest payments. As Martin Luther King used to say: "Free! I'm free at last!"
I once wanted to be rich, but that has changed, thanks to the IRS. A little income to keep Phyllis happy while avoiding the tax man is good enough for me.
Oh, it would be nice to have the wherewithal of Denny Sanford and to give it to some charitable cause, but the ball didn't bounce right for me.
Consider the story about the ant and the grasshopper. He, Sanford, was an ant and I was a bug who hopped around and didn't go for the bucks.
But I am rich, too, in family, friends and memories – and none of them is taxable.
© 2008 Robert F. Karolevitz