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Messing just a bit with the IRS
The Back Forty
By Roger Pond

Boy, am I glad thatís over! We finally got all of our taxes paid. I donít mind local taxes so much, but the federal taxes are surely a pain.

I try to be as honest as possible with my tax records, though. If I find a mistake in my taxes, I correct it as soon as possible.

And I donít claim my dog as a dependent, as some folks reportedly do.

One year I under-reported employee wages by $200 and wound up owing an additional $1.94 in federal unemployment tax. When I found the error, I promptly sent the I.R.S. a check for $1.94.

I wonder what it costs the government to process a check for $1.94? They probably thought I was fooling with them.

A friend once told me about an old codger who did these things on a regular basis - just to irritate the tax collectors.

This fellow (weíll call him Willard) had a little plot of land on the edge of the desert, and his annual tax assessment was only 18 cents.

The property had no buildings when Willard bought it, and you couldnít grow anything on it; so 18 cents was probably about right. Over the years Willard built himself a house out of some wood he found lying around. Then, he built a shop and began piling up scrap iron, just in case he might ever find a use for it.

I should stop and explain, those were the days when a man could build his own house without a bunch of permits - and get away with it. If the house fell on him, everyone just chalked it up to education. So the tax assessor might not have known Willard had improvements on his property. Or if the assessor knew, he may not have cared.

The neighbors said it would take a pretty good stretch to call Willardís buildings improvements, anyway. So the assessment remained the same. Each spring Willard would get a bill for property taxes in the outrageous amount of 18 cents.

The old rascal always paid his taxes right on time, but he never sent the county 18 cents. He would always send a quarter.

That way the treasurerís office had to buy a 12-cent stamp to refund his overpayment of seven cents. The county received 18 cents, but it cost them 12 cents to collect it. They actually only got 6 cents out of the deal!

It was all part of the Sagebrush Rebellion from Willardís point of view. He never could understand what the county was doing with all that money, anyway.

I thought about Willard when I sent that check for $1.94 to the IRS. I canít say that transaction made me feel any better, but Iíll bet it didnít exactly make their day, either.

This farm news was published in the April 26, 2006 issue of Farm World.

4/26/2006