As we all know, February is a month for love, romance and taxes.
Taxes wouldn’t be so bad if they were simpler to pay. I don’t mind giving money to the government. No, what bothers me is that giving money to the government requires so many hours of tedious paperwork.
Despite the complications, I continue to pay taxes every year. After all, Jesus paid his taxes. There’s a great story in Matthew 17 in which Jesus sends Peter fishing, promising that the first fish he catches will have a coin in its mouth with which to pay the temple tax.
My first reaction to this story is, “Of course Jesus paid his taxes, and so should I.”
My second reaction is, “Man, Jesus had it easy. I wish I could just hand over my tax money and be done with it. I wonder what miracle Jesus would use to pay his taxes today.”
Another reason I pay taxes is to prevent the US government from arresting me for tax evasion. There are many places in the world I’d like to visit, but prison isn’t one of them. Besides, if I were arrested and put on trial, the legal paperwork would be even worse than tax paperwork. It’s sort of like Scylla and Charybdis from The Odyssey. A person must decide which misery is less miserable.
When I pay taxes, the process typically involves a large amount of tedious fact-checking, a moderate amount of careful estimating and a small amount of wild guessing.
In addition to my usual federal and state taxes, I also pay the Federal Secretarial Animal Assistant Tax (also called the FSAAT) for my typewriter monkeys.
I never ask my monkeys to help me with my taxes. In addition to their other faults, they are extremely bad at mathematics. I’m much better at math than any of my typewriter monkeys, despite having an English degree. (For those who don’t know, an English degree is not so much a sign of being good at English as a sign of being bad at mathematics.)
Besides being poor mathematicians, my typewriter monkeys are also unmotivated to do tax paperwork. They have the stubbornness of mules and slothfulness of… well… sloths.
At least I don’t have the misfortune of employing typewriter sloths. Indeed, I must count my blessings.
I’d also better think about doing taxes soon.
I don’t know whether you would say Jesus had it easier paying taxes or not. I mean, yes, pretty much all he had to do was hand over the money, but that was only after they figured out what he had. That was what the census was for (think Luke 2). They would force all the family members together and torture them (literally) until they gave up the information about what property they had. If you ask me, I’d rather go through the torture of the paperwork than the whip.
Jesus certainly had to pay the Roman tax, but the tax alluded to in Matthew 17 was actually the temple tax: a flat rate of two drachmas per Jewish man. I wish I could just give the American government two drachmas, or a corresponding flat rate in American dollars. I am glad the federal government doesn’t torture non-taxpayers, though.