Back in April, oh around the 15th of the month, my 16yo son wrote a check to the Internal Revenue Service. It's not that he made enough money in wages to owe taxes, but rather that he won enough chess tournaments to do so. You see, prize winnings are not subject to to the same exemption as wages. Taxes must be paid on every single cent. So my son, being the good citizen that he is, sent Uncle Sam his cut.
Imagine our puzzlement, then, when a month or so later he got a bill from dear old "Unc" for unpaid taxes plus interest and penalties. But, but . . . he paid! We checked with the bank and sure enough, the money had come out of the account. So we printed off copies of the cancelled check, front and back, and sent them in, trusting that this would settle things.
Hahahahahahahah. Apparently, Uncle Sam is not only greedy, but his eyesight is going, too. Yesterday another letter came. Apparently the tracking numbers on the check do not meet Uncle's legibility requirements. Another copy of the check has been requested, along with a form on which we have been directed to write down all the numbers that have been stamped on the check in the endorsement area. Let it be noted that these are the numbers Uncle Sam himself stamped on the check. Apparently he can stamp but he can't do so legibly enough that he can go back and read the numbers later. So he needs us to help him with that, poor dear.
So let's get this straight. My 16yo son made a couple of thousand dollars last year at most. A portion of that was prizewinnings. He paid his tax as required by law. The IRS cashed the check. And now for almost six months they have been spending unnecessary time and money harassing a minor about $150 that he already paid them. This is the same government that can't seem to send out the checks it promised to dealers in the Cash for Clunkers program or make timely Medicare payments (don't get me started on that one). And they think they can establish and enforce a huge new bureaucracy, one equivalent to one-sixth of this country's economy, and get it right?
Oh, I forgot. We're the only ones that have to get it right. They're the government. They don't have to actually get it right--they just have to pronounce it right, and it's so. That's what bullies do. Even old, fat, blind, drunk with power Uncles who say they care about you but are really just looking for a few more easy bucks to feed their gluttonous ways.
Memo to Uncle Sam: My son, like so many other young people, is working hard right now so that he won't have to depend on his Rich Uncle in the years to come. Leave him alone, will you?