Rendering unto Caesar

Filing form 1040 is no laughing matter, especially if it's followed by a tax audit. I wonder how some of history's famous would have coped:

''Good afternoon, Mr. Franklin. Please have a seat.''

''Thank you, sir.''

(Yawn) ''Excuse me, Mr. Franklin (yawn), but I was up half the night observing Halley's Comet.''

''It's my belief, sir, that early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.''

''Right. Look, Ben, in Item 8A here, we're questioning the astronomical figure you've indicated for interest earned from your savings account.''

''I have this theory, sir, that he who saves not as he gets, may keep his nose all his life to the grindstone.''

''I couldn't agree with you more, Ben. Gosh, look at the time. After five already. Let's pursue this matter first thing tomorrow morning.''

''Never leave till tomorrow, sir, that which you can do today.''

''Look, wise guy, why don't you go fly a kite. . . .''

''Gentlemen, please be seated. This shouldn't take long.''

''We hope not, sir. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow.''

''I see by your returns you're both in the bicycle business. Unfortunately you forgot to attach Schedule C so that there's no way we can verify your figures for Item 11 regarding business income.''

''Wil, you told me you attached those forms.''

''I'm sorry, Orv, they're probably still in my desk back at the shop.''

''I apologize for my brother's oversight, sir, but if we can get our little project off the ground tomorrow we'll airmail those schedules to you. . . .''

''I'm sorry it was necessary to bring you here under lock and key, but the handcuffs and leg irons will be removed just as soon as we've finished.''

''You won't believe this, sir, but I feel quite at home in these.''

''Be that as it may. If you hadn't eluded my agents on two previous occasions , such precautions wouldn't have been necessary.''

''I hope this audit won't take too long, sir. I'm going to be tied up this afternoon.''

''Your file's just down the hall. Soon as I return, we'll get right down to business, then you're free to go, Mr. Houdini. . . .''

''Thank you for dropping by, sir.''

''No trouble. I was in the neighborhood on my way over to the State House to sign a resolution we've been drafting.''

''That's exactly why you were notified, sir. You forgot to sign and date your 1040 return.''

''Ah, how careless of me. I never seem to have a quill on me. May I borrow yours?''

''Of course, Be my guest.''

''There you are, sir. Signed, sealed and delivered.''

''Thank you for your cooperation. My, but that's exquisite penmanship. You should see some of the scrawls we get on these tax returns, Mr. Hancock. . . .''

''Hi, have a seat.''

''Thank you, sir.''

''Antonio, I'm sorry we couldn't meet under more pleasant circumstances. As you know, tax delinquency is a serious matter. No one can be excused.''

'I understand, sir, but as I mentioned in my recent note to your department, I'm self-employed and it takes time to create my product. If you could give me an extension. . . .''

''That won't be possible, Tony, and unless you're prepared to square your account with us here and now, my department will have no alternative but to initiate legal action.''

''Sir, would you consider one of my products in lieu of payment?''

''Depends. What's in the case?''

''A violin, sir, entirely handcrafted.''

''I wish we could accommodate you, but none of us at the agency is musically inclined. I'm afraid you'll be hearing from our lawyers in a fortnight, Mr. Stradivari. . . .''

''Contrary to public opinion, Will, not everyone is audited -- just a random few.''

''To be honest . . . is to be one man picked out of ten thousand.''

''Perhaps, but you have only yourself to blame. You could have filed either a 1040 with all of the attached schedules, or the simpler 1040A.''

''This is the long and short of it?''

''Right. By not filing either, you have committed a criminal act.''

''Must I hold a candle to my shames?''

''Spoken like a true bard, Will.''

'' 'Tis my vocation . . . 'tis no sin for a man to labour in his vocation.''

''Very well, then, let's find out how much you earned from that vocation last year, and how much you owe the government.''

''O, that a man might know the end of this day's business, ere it come. . . .''

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