Just do your job and keep a straight face

»  mark    28 Feb 2007 @ 08:37    

I can’t help wondering if the people at the IRS who write the guides for doing your personal income tax laugh at some of the more bizarre requirements they have to document, or if the tax code (*gasp*) actually makes sense to them.

For once, I actually read one of those guides and found myself laughing out loud. This wasn’t one of those books filled with sarcastic commentary or a Taxes for Dummies; this was an official IRS guidebook entitled Your Federal Income Tax, Publication 17, which was sitting out at our nearby public library alongside the usual tax manuals and forms. Here are a few excerpts from the section on “Other Income” (pg 85-87), to help you honestly assess what income should be taxed this year. I’m not making this up. Read along in the online version of Publication 17.

Bribes If you receive a bribe, include it in your income.

Hmm… can I claim the baseball bats that I use to intimidate people into taking my bribe as a work-related expense?

Found property If you find and keep property that does not belong to you that has been lost or abandoned (treasure-trove), it is taxable to you at its fair market value in the first year it is your undisputed possession.

Mr. Pike had it right! The contents under the big Dubya should have been listed as “other income.”

Lotteries and raffles. Winnings from lotteries and raffles are gambling winnings. In addition to cash winnings, you must include in your income the fair market value of bonds, cars, houses, and noncash prizes.

I have this argument with people a lot, but here it is black and white: raffles are gambling winnings! That really hurts. I wish they’d give receipts of fair market value when I participate in cake walks and other sinister operations, so I can be sure to report this.

Illegal income. Illegal income, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income on Form 1040, line 21 or on Schedule C or Schedule C-EZ (From, 1040) if from your self-employment activity.

This is my favorite one. All right all you drug dealers, make it easy on yourself and be sure to keep receipts for all your illegal business transactions so you can pay your fair share to the government. Oh, that includes you arms dealers, mafia, prostitutes, and human traffickers, too.

Prizes and awards. If you win a prize in a lucky number drawing, television or radio quiz program, beauty contest, or other event, you must include it in your income…Prizes and awards in goods or services must be included in your income at their fair market value.

I once got a blue ribbon for some green beans that my mom helped me submit to the county fair. What’s the “fair market value” of a blue ribbon? Ha ha. I hope they don’t find out about that! Not to mention all those free mini-pizza coupons I racked up in the 5th grade for reading books over the summer. Did I file that year?

Stolen property. If you steal property, you must report its fair market value in your income in the year you steal it unless in the same year, you return it to its rightful owner.

Good thing we have such honest thieves in this country doing their taxes…



  1. i cant believe that they actually have stuff like that written on the taxes thats insane! your little comments were hilarious:) im going to read through those when I do my taxes! To bad that people actually get paid big bucks to write that stuff isnt it?

    ann    4 March 2007 @18:56

  2. It is probably not the people writing it making lots of money. But there are plenty of congressmen that get paid big bucks to write the tax code to help the people they represent. I think it is long overdue to be thrown out the window.

    There are so many ins and outs to control the universe of possibilities that the only people it truly works for are the people that can hire the best tax consultants.


    /mark    6 March 2007 @06:18

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