A few nice words about the IRS

April 01, 2001|By Dave Barry | Dave Barry,Knight Ridder / Tribune

Every year at tax time, I write a lighthearted, "fun" column about the Internal Revenue Service, in which I make a lot of jokes that are not serious, because I am just kidding around in a humorous vein. The truth is that I have the deepest respect for the IRS, and for the thousands of fine men and women and Doberman pinschers who work there.

Ha ha! That's an example of the kind of good-natured "jab" I usually take at the IRS, stemming from affection, rather than hostility. Because in all seriousness, I believe that the IRS is wonderful. If I'm at a party, and some loud braggart tries to put the IRS down, I brandish my hors d'oeuvre at that person with barely controlled fury and say: "Listen, my friend, if you think you can insult a fine federal agency, which under the bold leadership of Commissioner Charles O. Rossotti has made big strides toward modernization and improved customer service, then be prepared to take a celery stalk to the eyeball."

Call me a loyal taxpayer if you want but, gosh darn it, that is how I feel about the IRS.

Anyway, over the years I have written quite a few columns affectionately "joshing" the IRS. I had planned to do such a column this year, featuring some good-natured "zingers." For example, I was going to suggest that all taxpayers should take a "tax pardon," under which you would deduct the first $48 million you owed the government, on the grounds that, hey, if Marc Rich doesn't have to pay it, why the heck should YOU? Ha ha!

I was also going to suggest that you check out the fun IRS Internet site that is supposed to teach young people why we pay taxes: www.irs.ustreas.gov / taxi / index. html. This site features cartoon characters "Sherri Shine" and "PJ Fly." You travel through history with Sherri and PJ in PJ's "time taxi" and learn everything about the American tax system, except (1) why it's riddled with loopholes for special interests; and (2) why it's incomprehensible to most Americans. At the end of this journey, you realize, along with Sherri and PJ, that we have a really swell and fair tax system, and that we need to pay taxes so our government can provide us with benefits such as ... well, such as an elaborate Internet site that brainwashes young people.

Ha ha! There I go again! What a kidder I am!

So these were some of the humorous "digs" I had planned. But then, on the very morning that I was going to write this column, an amazing coincidence occurred: I got a letter from the IRS informing me that I have been chosen for an audit. I swear I am not making this up. This letter does not have the same fun tone as the IRS Internet site. As I understand it, it basically states that the IRS wants me to produce every document that has ever existed, including the original Magna Carta.

I admit that, for just a moment, I wondered if maybe I was being audited because I have written so many columns "poking fun" at the IRS. But then I thought: No way! Because the fine folks of the IRS have a GREAT sense of humor. I'm sure they know that, deep down inside, I am their biggest fan.

That's why this year, instead of my usual "sarcastic" tax column, I want to take this opportunity to sincerely express how much I love the IRS. I am crazy for the IRS. I want to kiss the IRS on the lips. That is the passion I feel for the IRS and its director, Mr. Rossotti, who is a god among men. Mr. Rossotti, if you are reading this, let me say in all sincerity that it would be my personal honor to clean your insoles with my tongue. Thank you for even considering this offer.

And to you taxpayers out there, let me say this: Make sure you file your tax return on time! And remember that, even though income taxes can be a "pain in the neck," the folks at the IRS are regular people just like you, except that they can destroy your life. Also, please send me food in prison.

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