The Internal Revenue Service is a favorite media whipping-boy each taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. -filing season. And although much criticism aimed at the IRS isn’t really fair—they can only do what Congress authorizes them to do, so lawmakers are the real culprits—that doesn’t mean it isn’t funny.
From the Los Angeles Times, a hilarious parody of a Q&A with the federal agency frusterated tax filers love to hate:
Question: I am a private citizen filing a single return with no itemized deductions. My company automatically deducts federal taxes from my salary. When are my taxes due?
Answer: This is a complicated matter and can’t be answered in the space provided.
Q: My New Orleans home was swept away by floods last summer and I’ve been living in a soggy cardboard box ever since. I’ve already filed Form 4868 (Application for Automatic Extension of Time to File U.S. Income Tax Return), but I think I will need more time to track down financial records. I heard that in cases of “undue hardship,” more time can be granted. Is that true?
A: We’d like to thank you for the silliest question we’ve ever received, and that’s saying something. It will bring howls of laughter from our staff.
Q: Should I mail or e-mail my tax return?
A: You seem to be searching for a black-and-white answer. Wouldn’t life be grand if everything were as simple as you made it seem? As an “either/or” personality, you should be more concerned with your unhealthy obsession for absolutes. Consult your personal physician for further details.
Q: I owe more in taxes than I earn in a year. I can’t pay that much, and even if I could, how could this be? And what should I do about this egregious situation?
A: Your best bet is to think of a really good prison nickname, like “Mad Dog” or “Tinkerbell.”
Q: I have a home office, but I also use it a couple times a year as a guestroom. Can I still take the home office deduction without being flagged for an auditA tax audit is when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) conducts a formal investigation of financial information to verify an individual or corporation has accurately reported and paid their taxes. Selection can be at random, or due to unusual deductions or income reported on a tax return. ?
A: Asking questions about the home office deduction automatically triggers an audit — and a full body-cavity search.
Q: I’m still waiting for my refund from 2004. Where is it?
A: The check is in the e-mail.