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VOL. 129 | NO. 75 | Thursday, April 17, 2014

Vic Fleming

Intaxicating Humor

By Vic Fleming

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To file or not to file? For an extension, that is. Indeed, this is the question. For mid-April is upon us yet again.

In desperation, if not also procrastination, I seek the ease that only humor can bring. Read that: I decide to try my hand at writing tax jokes. Which proves to be a bit of a problem, as I am not by trade a joke writer. Not one to be deterred by such technicalities, I press onward:

I hope that I don’t die of intaxication – the feeling of euphoria brought on by getting a refund from the IRS, followed by the letdown when it dawns on me that it was my own money all along.

Okay, so that one wasn’t original. Plus, it’s been years since I could spell, let alone smell, a tax refund.

Suppose Caesar had waited a month to visit the Senate. Would the cry “Beware the ides of April” even turn a head? What with everyone scurrying around to get their returns prepared on time?

I know, of course, that “the IRS” anagrams all too easily to THEIRS. But, playing with the letters, I quickly discover that other possibilities include RE HITS, RE THIS, and RE something else.

We speak of “filing” a return. I ponder what it would be like to hammer, saw, screw and chisel that sucker as well. How much of a penalty would be involved for a return mangled by all the tools in the box?

The rules, no matter how I read them, don’t let me claim an exemption for my most expensive “dependent” – Uncle Sam.

On the itemized deductions forms, there’s a line item for “other” taxes. How do I compute the amount that my patience has been taxed?

There’s a scary symmetry to the placement of Tax Day on the calendar – midway between April 1 and May 1. For two weeks I feel like an April Fool. Then for two weeks I find myself shouting, “Mayday! Mayday!”

They say that death and taxes are the only two certainties of life. But one of these, at least, has the courtesy to come around only once.

My son uses one of those DIY tax programs. I wouldn’t even consider that, as it strikes me as a conflict of interest to aid and abet in a robbery against … me!

My neighbor advises that the key to weathering the April storm is to “pay your tax with a smile.” Excitedly, I call my accountant. Who advises that the government is not accepting smiles, only money.

I refer to my CPA firm as a “brokerage.” Because each year around this time, I associate them with my being a lot broker on April 16 than I was on April 14.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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