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Web valleyofthegeeks.com


Zack Urlocker
Saturday, April 15, 2006

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1040 Or Fight!

Why wait until the last minute?In order to help those who have not yet completed their taxes, the Internal Revenue Service (official motto: "You make it, we take it") has create a special set of Frequently Asked Questions to help with last minute tax chores. While it may not reduce the amount of tax you are required to pay or the length of your jail sentence, it will definitely take your mind off a pending audit.

Why are taxes due on April 15?

Don't even start down that path. Your taxes are due on April 15. No ifs ands or buts. Congress passed this act way before you were born and our budget depends on it. So get ready to pay up.

What time on April 15 are taxes due?

If you owe taxes, you must submit your completed and signed tax return by midnight April 15. On the other hand, if you are expecting a tax refund we don't mind if you wait a couple of years. We'll take good care of your money during the interim period funding some fancy new offices we're building in Washington, DC.

So let's say I live in Chicago and I'm running a bit behind schedule on this whole tax scene. If I fly to, say, Honolulu on business, then I would have an extra five hours to complete my taxes. Would I be able to deduct the cost of the flight as a tax preparation expense?

Since the flight time to Honolulu is greater than the time difference, you would need to prorate the deduction. Also note that in-flight liquor would not be considered a tax preparation expense unless you buy a round for everyone on the plane and form an S corporation by filing "Form WD40 Extreme Lubrication."

Last year, I received stock options from my company which I exercised and paid taxes on. I held the stock and now it's worthless and I have no money.

There's a million stories in the naked city and this is just one of them.

Since I never made any money from the options, can I get a refund for the taxes I paid last year?

It turns out the IRS did pretty well on the whole dot com boom the last couple of years by getting our cut up front. So we'll let you declare a tax loss to offset any further gains this year. Remember the expression "Buy low, sell high?" Next time, don't forget to sell.

But I didn't have any gains this year and I had to sell my house in Fremont just to pay taxes. Not only that, I lost my job and my wife left me for an investment banker.

On average the economy continues to improve, but statistically speaking there are always a few outlyers. Get with the program, mac. No one wants to hang out with a complainer.

My accountant says I should declare bankruptcy. How does that work?

We don't recommend bankruptcy. Strictly speaking, there's no percentage in it for the government. Look, whatever you have, just send it in. I'm sure we can work something out. We'll take a chunk of your paycheck for a few years and call it even. Think of it as government alimony. We'll still be friends and you can come visit the capital whenever you're in town. Just don't call after you've been drinking.

My accountant says there's nothing left. He won't return my calls anymore. I'm basically living in the streets.

Bankruptcy just doesn't have the social stigma associated with it that it used to have. So if you want to go that route, we also need to declare insanity, shave your head and join the Hare Krishna. Be sure to fill out "Form 9985 Schedule L - Hare Krishna Hare Krisha Krishna Krishna Hare Hare."

What is ATM?

ATM, it's like an instant teller machine. You put your bank card in, you take money out. Where the heck are you from anyways?

Sorry, I mean, AMT. 

Oh, that. AMT is the Alternative Minimum Tax. Harry in Marketing came up with AMT a few years ago, when were trying to figure out how to raise revenues without hire more collections goons. We never thought it would fly, but it's turned into one of our biggest money makers. We're still shocked at how long we've been able to keep this one going. Harry got a big raise and a promotion out of it.

Who needs to be concerned with AMT?

The AMT was designed to make sure that the rich always had to pay some taxes and couldn't get out with loop holes tax shelters and all that. So unless you're in the top 60% of all wage earners, you don't need to worry about it.

Well if AMT was designed to tax the rich and now it's taxing the middle class, isn't that a problem?

Not for the IRS. We're very flexible. Of course, now even Harry in Marketing has to pay AMT, which is kind of funny, when you think about it.

I used TurboTax to prepare my return, but when I was just about to save it gave me the error message "Federal Individual 1040 Update Canceled: Invalid Patch File C:\Tax01\Updates\wfdixxx.rtp." What does this mean?

You will need to administer emergency first aid procedure. First, file "Form 8849-PC - Computer Moron." Be sure to send us a copy of your Autoexec.bat, config.sys and any MP3 files you've downloaded. Note, please do not send any unsigned metal bands from MP3.com. However, any bootleg Elvis Costello songs would be greatly appreciated provided they are itemized on "Schedule EC-0423." If necessary, turn off your PC, count to three, uninstall TurboTax, reformat your hard disk, re-install Windows and get out the scotch. It's going to be a long night.

I did all this and then it said "A required .DLL file, MSVCIRT.DLL, was not found." I've lost all my work and now my computer won't even start. It just keeps making a beeping noise when I turn it on. What should I do?

Oh yeah, before you reformat, be sure to make a backup. Just in case you get an error message about a missing DLL file. Sorry about that. You can request the DLL by sending in "Form 1225 (Schedule 3) Missing DLL, Possible Low IQ." Or you can call us directly at 1-900-MORE-TAX to order a new DLL for only $39.95. If you use Microsoft Passport to log in to your financial institution, we've already transferred any taxes due directly to our account along with a preferred customer surcharge. People should really read those on-line agreements more carefully.

What happens if I don't pay my taxes on time?

Because we've cut back on the number of auditors you might just get away with it. For a while. And then you'll start wondering if your neighbors are going to rat you out. You'll see tax men everywhere. You'll start to sweat whenever anyone even refers to taxes. Next thing you know you'll be like that guy in the Edgar Allan Poe story.

Alternatively, you can flee to Switzerland or another country that does not authorize extradition for tax purposes. Be sure to complete the itemized list in "Form 2044 - Campaign Donations." If your donations are larger than your phone number you can save time by also filing a separate "Form 8669 Request for Presidential Pardon" before leaving the country.  Note that while pardons are normally issued in the last 10 minutes of a presidential term, they last a life time.

My grandmother is 90 years old. She doesn't even remember where she lives. What if she "forgets" to file her taxes?

Unfortunately, the IRS has gotten wise to this ruse. Congress has recently passed the "Unfiled Grandmother Amendment" also known as "GranTax" closing this loophole. Any unfiled grandmothers will be held in a newly constructed Grandmother Detention Center for 90 days.

This seems awfully cruel.

No, not at all. The staff love it. The grandmothers are all baking cookies and knitting macrame wall hangings. It really helps with morale during the busy season.

A friend of mine claims a home office deduction, but all he ever does is play video games on his PC. How likely is it he will be audited?

You can increase those odds by calling 1-800-4SNITCH. Plus you can win a free set of steak knives.

What if this friend also writes a satirical web site that doesn't make any money because no one buys the hats and mugs he sells? Can he deduct the cost of travel to the South Pacific for market research?

You are so busted.

About the author
Zack Urlocker is a pseudonym for a Silicon Valley software executive. His identity is known only by his closest friends and the IRS.

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