I'm the Taxman

The president has called upon us to engage in public service, and I'm willing to do my part. It's April, and I've realized that many of the fictional characters that grace America's airwaves have probably failed to pay their taxes in a timely fashion.

Though I'm hardly H&R Block, it seemed to me that some of these characters, particularly those embroiled in situation comedies, could use some advice about their financial behavior. After all, these are the kind of people who end up getting handcuffed to their own refrigerators. It's fair to assume that they're not keeping all of their receipts.

So, a couple of suggestions.

First, to the puppets on "Greg the Bunny," Fox's new midseason replacement. It seems clear that under existing tax laws, purchases of new buttons or marbles to serve as googly eyes or other parts of the anatomy are medical expenses and should be either filed as insurance claims or taken as deductions. There's no need just to swallow the costs.

Second, to the characters on "Friends": you may be aware that New York City levies an additional tax over and above the state tax. Given that the clean, inexpensive city you live in -- where no one ever seems to do any work and yet still live like millionaires -- has as much to do with the real New York as Woody Allen has to do with Topeka, feel free to skip that line on your 1040s.

Third, to the second bananas (Finch on "Just Shoot Me," Jack and Karen on "Will and Grace," Dharma's parents on "Dharma and Greg," and so on, and so forth): thanks to the "quirky deduction," any expenses incurred in order to establish your characters as odd yet lovable are deductible. For example, Finch, if you want to buy lots of those ceramic cats or action figures you love - well, you're buying them with pre-tax dollars, my man!

Fourth, to the folks on "24" and "ER": given how busy you seem to be, you've all got automatic extensions. No need to file until the summer re-runs.

Fifth, to Homer and Marge Simpson. I contacted the IRS' investigative arm, and it has been noted that you've claimed the same number of dependents, with the same ages, for twelve years. Your audit will be taking place shortly. (No, it's no use slapping your head like that, Homer. Look at the bright side: with the cuts in Superfund regulations, you'll keep your job at Mr. Burns' nuclear power plant and make money to pay off all those back taxes.)

Finally, one for the actual actors, not the characters: the newly established "Seinfeld stipulation" (passed at the same time as the tax rebate), allows anyone who appeared on more than four episodes of the Nineties megahit, and subsequently headlined a failing television show of their own, to write off court costs incurred after beating entertainment reporters about the head when asked about the "Seinfeld curse." Stars of "Bob Patterson," "Watching Ellie," and, for that matter, "The Tick," take note.

I hope this has been helpful. I'm feeling good about it - I'm deducting this as a charitable contribution.

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