Life and Taxes

Posted on April 20th, 2012

Hmmm. Apparently I am losing my mind. I forgot to post this. Yeah. So happy reading about the Tax Day that came…and went…

Image copyright Arvind Balaraman

I’m sorry to have to do this, but…Tuesday is April 17 and the IRS has declared that Tuesday shall be known as “Give Us All Your Money Day.” No, I don’t know why it’s Tuesday and not Monday, April 16 that you pay your taxes. It’s a closely guarded national secret only known to some guy in cubicle 124D at the Fresno IRS office.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter when the government takes your money, it’s going to take it, no matter what.  There’s no use fighting it. It’s been this way since the days of the cavemen. In fact, archeologists have discovered cave drawings depicting a particularly awful prehistoric version of an audit. Let’s just say it involves a spear, a mastodon and some guy dressed in a cheap fur tie demanding a form 1040 EZ from a cowering cave dweller.

But I don’t think the worst part of taxes is paying them. Okay, that’s a lie. I do think the worst part of taxes is paying them. But there is an equally icky part of taxes—the U.S. Tax Code. It’s a bazillion pages long. And it’s written in bureaucrat-speak, a rare and confusing language only spoken by people who work for the government.

This is a difficult language to read, let alone master. So, just in time for tax day, I have attempted to wallow through the IRS list of definable terms and explain them to you. Just don’t blame me if you actually use these definitions and still end up in debtor’s prison.

Amount Due

Money that taxpayers must pay to the government when the total tax is greater than their total tax payments.

Or, as I define it, actually getting blood from a stone. Or is that a turnip?


Frighteningly, the IRS has no definition for audit. That should scare you enough to not want to participate in one.


A ratable deduction for the cost of intangible property over its useful life.

Oh, for pete’s sake. Who on earth can understand that? Is ratable even a word?

Declining Balance Method

An accelerated method to depreciate property. The General Depreciation System (GDS) of MACRS uses the 150% and 200% declining balance methods for certain types of property.

Um, okay. I think you could just use a calculator for this. Or possibly you could borrow a super computer from NASA or something.

Direct Tax

A tax that cannot be shifted to others, such as the federal income tax.

Who knew that you could make other people pay your taxes? I didn’t. But you can bet that before next year, I’m going to try to find a way to get someone else to pay for me.

Fungible Commodity

A commodity of a nature that one part may be used in place of another part.

So now you know. Some commodities are fungible. Some aren’t. And no, I don’t have a clue as to what fungible means, but I’m pretty sure it’s not a swear word. It might be a type of mushroom though. I just hope it isn’t poisonous.

Luxury Tax

A tax paid on expensive goods and services considered by the government to be nonessential.

You will pay this tax if you drive a Mercedes, but not if you drive a Ford Focus. However, if you buy cushy Charmin for your tushy instead of store-brand toilet paper, you won’t invoke the luxury tax. Frankly, it just doesn’t make sense to me, but then again, I don’t drive either vehicle, although I am rather partial to Charmin. But I buy it on sale, in case you wondering.

Qualifying Child

To be a qualifying child, the dependent must meet five tests: (1) Relationship, (2) Age, (3) Residency, (4) Support, and (5) Special test for qualifying children of more than one person.

I’m confused. Doesn’t it usually  take two people to make a qualifying child?

Now that you are up-to-date on bureaucrat-speak, I suggest you find a CPA before Monday. Believe me, you don’t want to rely on my taxation translations. The last time I did our taxes, I tried to pay the IRS more than what we actually made in income that year.

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