Sunday, March 25, 2007

My Ignominious Defeat on the Killing Fields of the IRS

I admit it. I was in full retreat, having turned tail and run from the battle when faced with the blank and hostile stare of the infamous IRS Form 8615 - Tax for Children Under Age 14 With Investment Income of More Than $1,600, a form that in its name alone is nearly a self-parody of the incredible mess our tax code has become. In fact, this form alone is a glaring indictment of the insult that gets heaped onto the extant pecuniary injury of our annual tax burden. Some of you have met the lovely Co-Pilot Egg for whom I had volunteered to champion in this battle; no Leona Helmsley is she. Yet here I was, forced to defend her honor against this huge, unforgiving faceless colossus.

To be sure, I entered the fray brimming with newly found self-confidence. After all, safely astride the saddle of my newly acquired mount and armed with my newest state-of-the-art weapon, which I had lovingly named Turbo Tax Premium, I had single-handedly slain one challenger after another in detailing my own 16-page return. 1040? Bah, a lowly opponent. Schedules A - Z? Quickly dispatched. Even ne'er met foes that prodded my soft underbelly with questions regarding stock transactions were no match to the power of my electronic arsenal. The fact that I am required (under threat of substantial penalty and/or incarceration, mind you) to account for every penny (or minuscule sliver thereof) spent or earned to a government agency that has been unable to balance its own books for decades merely adds a touch of irony to the historical record of the entire battle.

As I proudly entered the field of battle, I felt not even the smallest trace of trepidation. Name? Well, sure I know that: I gave it to her! Social Security number? Very familiar, what with her having been branded with said digits unconscionably early in her infancy. Free range veal doesn't feel the searing burn of the red-hot brand as early in life as did my precious progeny. The battle proceeded apace, with my confidence bubbling to ever higher degrees with each small victory. Only when it was far too late did I realize that I had been suckered into an ambush. Flanked on all sides with wounded, but not yet slain enemy combatants, I was finally confronted with the enemy's last, best opponent: the aforementioned Form 8615. The strength in my legs immediately abandoned me, leaving two useless stubs of gelatinous goo in their stead. I could feel my confidence abandon me at the very moment is was most sorely needed. I knew to my very core that the battle was lost, that I had no hope of even pricking this beast, far less wresting it to the ground. The situation was grim, my very survival in doubt.

Then I heard it: the cavalry bugles were blowing! And nearby, too! Could it be that I was saved, that the battle could still be won? Was it really possible that a savior was just over the horizon, a savior with the steely nerves and unswayable resolve that would be needed to defeat this ungodly foe? Did I dare even to hope for such an implausibly last minute rescue, the type normally found in formulaic Hollywood dreck?

Yes, it was true! I was saved! A wizard of unparalleled skill and experience, capable of meeting anything the enemy could bring to the battle, was going to be my salvation, albeit at a cost. When I regained my ability to speak, my first question I asked of my personal white knight was to be told by what name he rode. The answer will be seared into my memory until the day of my eventual demise: "Block. H & R Block."

'Twas a near thing, and while not likely to rise to the epic level of battle that is made infamous through folk songs and the tales of traveling bards, it was indeed one of history's greatest skirmishes.

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