Wednesday, April 15, 2009

25 Random Things About Taxes

1. Benjamin Franklin is the source of the oft-repeated "death and taxes" quote. In a letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy dated 13 November 1789, Franklin wrote: "Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

2. Jesus Christ could tolerate prostitutes, thieves, and publicans, even tax-collectors, but not tax scofflaws. When the Pharisees and Herodians pressed him on the matter of taxes, he told them: "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s" (Mark 22:21). Despite this, at his trial before Pilate, Jesus was accused of promoting resistance to Roman taxes (Luke 23:1-4).

3. In July of 1846, Henry David Thoreau bumped into local tax man Sam Staples, who asked him when he might be thinking of paying the six years of back taxes he owed. Thoreau told him no time soon, citing his opposition to slavery and the Mexican-American War. He was promptly tossed in jail. His aunt sprung him the next day, paying his back taxes. Instead of a nice "thank you" note or fruit basket he stomped off to his little cabin and penned Civil Disobedience.

4. Almost 70 years before Thoreau, in 1780, 21-year-old African American Paul Cuffe (born free on Cuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts) refused to pay his taxes because he did not have the right to vote, petitioning the council of Bristol County to end taxation without representation. The petition was denied, but it was one of the influences that led the Legislature to grant voting rights to all free male citizens of the state in 1783.

5. Madison DuPaix at suggests that parents, to teach their children about money, withhold "taxes" from their kids' allowance. "Children will often be surprised by the withholding on their first paycheck," she warns. "Explain the concept of taxes early on and their paycheck will meet their expectations."

6. Mahatma Gandhi once said: "Withholding payment of taxes is one of the quickest methods of overthrowing a government."

7. The Conservative doctrine of "Starving the Beast" seeks to cripple government by starving it of funds, mainly by drastically reducing taxation on the wealthy.

8. Ayn Rand considered taxation immoral. Yet she faithfully paid her taxes.

9. Tax Freedom Day, the first day of the year in which the nation as a whole has theoretically earned enough income to fund its annual tax burden, fell on April 13th this year.

10. Americans spend just under $28 billion per year to prepare their taxes.

11. The Beatles song, "Taxman," which opens their 1966 album Revolver, was written by George Harrison in a fit of apoplexy after realizing that even rock stars have to pay taxes.

12. "Sex and Taxes" by Kevin Cantwell:
Plum black & the blush white of an apple
shoulder, melon & cream, in tones to list
the flesh; in light, washed colors off at last
& textures sheer with damp I slowly pull
from you with your quick help. Weekend's ample
procrastinations to forget the least
of what we want to do. April, half a blast
of cold, half new light, green & simple.
Now dusk. Now fear. We pencil what we owe
on this short form, our numbers good enough.
The goose-neck glare undoes how we spent the day.
Each bite each bee-sting kiss each bitten O
all aftertaste. Later, at the drop-off,
postmark queue, we joke: "Now we can die!"
13. The Domesday Book, commissioned by William the Conqueror in 1086, listed the incomes, tax assessments, wealth and resources of most estates in England and was used to raise taxes, distribute resources and consolidate power. The tax assessments were reported in hides (a unit of land measurement varying from 60 to 120 acres). The method of taxation was thus referred to as the hidage system.

14. Dev┼čirme was a system of human taxation under the Ottoman Empire, from the 15th to the 19th century. This “blood tax," collected in the Balkan countryside every 4th year, was a levy of male children, usually between 8 and 10 years of age, to be converted from Christianity to Islam and either given to the sultan for his elite guard or inducted into the Janissary Corps of the Ottoman army.

15. Conscription under Napoleon was also known as the "blood tax".

16. Anti-Tax Tea Parties, aggressively promoted by Fox News, are set to take place in 360 cities across the nation today. Liberal pundits have taken to mocking the protests as "conservative tea-bagging". (Tea-bagging, according to wikipedia, is "a slang term for the act of a man placing his testicles in the mouth or on or around the face [including the top of the head] of another person, often in a repeated in-and-out motion as in irrumatio. The practice vaguely resembles dipping a tea bag into a cup of tea. Teabagging is also an erotic activity used within the context of BDSM and male dominance, with a dominant man teabagging his submissive partner, either a woman or a man, as one variation of facesitting and/or as a means of inflicting erotic humiliation.")

17. In the 1981 board game "Stick the IRS" the "tax player" with the most after-tax cash after 4 tours around the board wins the game and has successfully been able to STICK THE IRS.

18. New York Governor David Paterson's proposal to tax internet porn has raised the ire of the state's Republicans, who warn "by taxing [porn] you're legitimizing it... If you're taxing it, how can it be wrong?" (They might have ulterior motives, though. According to a recent study, conservatives buy more porn. "States where a majority of residents say they 'have old-fashioned values about family and marriage' bought more porn than those who disagreed with that statement. The same trend applies to places where people think 'AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behavior.'")

19. As of last year, 29 states had passed laws imposing taxes on illegal drugs and controlled substances.

20. Gays will pay $1 million more in taxes during their lifetime compared to straights. (But it's because gays make, like, two to three times more than straights on average -- oh snap!)

21. The most likely return to be audited is a Form 1040A from someone making less than $25,000 a year.

22. According to the IRS, there were 3,670,071 math errors on individual income tax returns in 2008.

23. In 2007 Turbo Tax sponsored a Tax Rap Contest. Vanilla Ice announced the winner.

24. Illicit offshore bank accounts account for an estimated $100 billion in unpaid annual taxes.

25. According to humorist Gerald Barzan: "taxation with representation ain't so hot either."

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