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Tax time: Better to laugh than cry
Tom Purcell
Tom Purcell

Tax season is upon us, which gives us a choice: Laugh or cry. I choose to laugh.

Dave Barry offers useful advice for getting through this trying time:

“It’s income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta.”

You got that right, Dave! For the sin of being self-employed, I spend hours navigating a sea of receipts, which I share with my CPA, who tells me I owe $5,000 more than I feared I would.

That’s why this quote from an anonymous pro athlete resonates with me:

“I want to find out who this FICA guy is and how come he’s taking so much of my money.”

Officially, FICA stands for the Federal Insurance Contribution Act tax, which funds Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid for some 60 million beneficiaries. 

Unofficially, I believe FICA is a Latin term for “hammer,” and the government uses that hammer to bludgeon the self-employed who have even modest success.

Herbert Hoover presided over the stock market crash that signaled the Great Depression, but he got this one right:

“Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.”

In February, the U.S. posted the largest budget deficit in its history, adding to our already unimaginable debt. Somebody has to pick up that tab. And that “somebody” will be the young.

Though polls show most millennials favor socialism, Dan Bennet offers hope that they’ll come to their senses as those massive bills come due:

“There’s nothing wrong with the younger generation that becoming taxpayers won’t cure.”

Two quotes posted on the IRS website particularly agitated me:

“Taxes are what we pay for civilized society.’’ - Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., U.S. Supreme Court justice 

“The power of taxing people and their property is essential to the very existence of government.’’ - James Madison, U.S. president 

Hey, Ollie, I don’t mind paying taxes for a civilized society. It’s paying for the uncivilized part that grates on me. And Jimmy, I’m happy our government exists, but does it have to be so big? 

Three of our thinkers make great sense, though: 

“What the government gives, it must first take away.” - John S. Coleman

“What is the difference between a taxidermist and a tax collector? The taxidermist takes only your skin.” - Mark Twain

“The best things in life are tax free.” - Joseph Bonkowski

The great Will Rogers’ wit and wisdom is always helpful at tax time:

“It costs 10 times more to govern us than it used to, and we are not governed one-tenth as good.”

“The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf.”

“The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”

I wish you and all Americans the best of luck as you sort through receipts and curse about never-ending tax obligations. 

Here’s an old joke to help cheer you up: 

The IRS commissioner is on a D.C. sidewalk. A mugger jumps out of an alley and says, “Give me all your money!” 

The commissioner says, “You can’t do this to me! I run the IRS.” 

“In that case,” says the mugger, “give me all of MY money!”

Tom Purcell is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist. Send comments to Tom at