HEY ... WE'RE BEING AUDITED!
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 93 16:41:27 PDT
Subject: HEY ... WE'RE BEING AUDITED!
From: bostic@vangogh.CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
IT'S TIME TO CATCH THIS CATCHY GOVERNMENT-SPONSORED VIDEO:
`HEY ... WE'RE BEING AUDITED!'
-- by Dave Barry [04/10/93]
Tax time is here, and chances are that you, like millions of other
Americans, are busily going over your financial records, adding up
columns of figures, trying to determine whether you have enough money
left to pay for a house call by Dr. Jack Kevorkian.
Ha ha! That was just a little suicide humor to put you in a
lighthearted frame of mind for preparing your tax return. You're going
to want to be extra careful this year, especially after the big scandal
that erupted concerning Zoe Baird, one of the estimated 430 women
President Clinton attempted to nominate for attorney general before he
found somebody who had never knowingly had children.
As you recall, Baird was forced to remove herself from consideration
when it was discovered that she had failed to pay the required federal
tax on the two little dots she puts over the ``o'' in ``Zoe.''
I'm kidding again. The government does not tax accent marks. Yet.
What got Baird in trouble was that she failed to follow the correct
federal procedure regarding household help. Let me explain this
procedure, using a simple example: Suppose you have a teen-age neighbor
who baby-sits for your kids every Saturday night. If you pay this baby
sitter more than $50 per fiscal quarter -- which works out to about $3.85
per fiscal week -- federal law requires that you file an SS-4 with the
IRS to get an employer identification number; then, every quarter, you
must file IRS Form 942, making sure to deduct 7.65 percent of the baby
sitter's wages, and adding 7.65 percent yourself to cover Social
Security and Medicare taxes. Then, at the end of the year, you must give
your baby sitter a W-2 form and send a copy to the Social Security
Outrageous, you say? A ludicrous example of an insanely burdensome
and complex tax system raging out of control? Well, perhaps it will
surprise you to learn that, according to a recent nationwide
investigation, these regulations are being complied with at a level
approaching 93 PERCENT by Mr. and Mrs. L. Fieldmont Vanderwacker, of
Ames, Iowa. Everybody else, including you, just pays the baby sitter and
forgets about it.
This means that you are a Tax Law Violator, and, therefore, cannot
be in the Cabinet. Pretty soon NOBODY will be clean enough to hold a high
government position; we'll have to recruit our federal officials from
primitive Brazilian rain forest tribes that have never heard of money
(``WASHINGTON -- In a development Thursday that observers believe could
indicate a deep rift in the Cabinet, the Secretary of Transportation ate
the Secretary of Defense'').
Another problem with violating the tax laws is that you might get
audited. Fortunately, this is not as bad as it sounds. I know this
because I recently viewed an educational videotape provided by the IRS.
This tape, which was recommended to me by alert reader Sam Kent, of
Boulder, Colo., is titled, ``Hey ... We're Being Audited!''
(I love that title. I think it should serve as the model for other
educational government videotapes, like ``Hey ... We're Intervening In
Bosnia!'' or ``Hey ... They're Storing Nuclear Waste In Our
``Hey ... We're Being Audited'' looks sort of like a TV sitcom:
It features a Typical Suburban Family -- a perky Mom with perfect blond
hair, a genial tie-wearing Dad with the IQ of lettuce, and two child
actors playing a brother and sister who have clearly been drugged
because they never hit each other.
Everything is going fine for these people until -- WUH-oh -- they
get an audit notice from the IRS. They're very nervous. Fortunately at this
point, in comes the wise old grandpa, Fred. Fred has been audited before
and seems to have actually ENJOYED it. He says things like: ``The unique
thing about our nation's tax system is that it's based on trust.'' (SURE
it is! That's why we're being audited!) Fred also says: ``You know,
those IRS folks, they're just people.''
As proof of this, the scene switches to the IRS office, where we
meet two IRS auditors who LOOK like humans, but talk like Martians. Here
is some of their dialogue:
FIRST AUDITOR: You know what impresses me? The emphasis on
SECOND AUDITOR (chuckling, as though this is a hilarious remark):
Oh yes, we're always stressing the importance of preserving the taxpayer's
Anyway, comes the big moment, and Mom and Dad go in to the IRS
office. They're doing OK until -- WUH-oh -- the auditor discovers that
they used THE WRONG BASIS FOR DETERMINING THE DEDUCTION ON MOM'S HOME
OFFICE. Those silly geese! In a wonderful scene, an IRS supervisor hauls
out the Tax Code and shows it to Mom and Dad, and they -- this is a
triumph of acting skill -- pretend that they can understand it.
So it turns out that Mom and Dad owe some money, but not too much.
``THAT wasn't so bad!'' says Dad. ``They never found out about our
No, I made that last line up. The tape ends with Grandpa Fred saying:
``Our taxes help to maintain our country and the quality of life we
enjoy as Americans today.'' They also pay for such vital government
programs as producing ``Hey ... We're Being Audited!'' If you'd like to
see it, call the IRS Taxpayer Education Office, and they'll send it to
you, free. Be sure to return it on time, or they get your house.
© 1993 Peter Langston