Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Picture the IRS Naked When You File Your Tax Return

By Jim Verdonik

I'm an attorney with Ward and Smith PA. I also write a column about business and law for American Business Journals, have authored multiple books and teach an eLearning course for entrepreneurs. You can reach me at or Or you can check out my eLearning course at or or you can purchase my books at

(This Blog Post first appeared as an article in Triangle Business Journal)

It's that time of year you've been dreading – Tax Time.

How can we make filing your taxes a more bearable experience?

Let's follow one common piece of advice that helps make people less nervous about public speaking - picture the audience naked.

I've never used that trick.   

Whether that would make me more comfortable or less comfortable probably depends on who is in the audience.

But it strikes me as a great way to add some comedic relief to your tax filing experience.

Of course, it's never difficult to get a laugh at our Government's expense.

Where do they come up with their plans?

I was at a biotechnology conference a month ago.  Two statements by speakers really broke me up.  I bet you didn't know that biotechnology conferences could be so funny.

One speaker summed up his tenure while he was the head of a major Government agency as follows:  "Every day driving to work I was always sure that one my 80,000 employees would do something ridiculously stupid in my name as the head of the agency."

Another speaker, a Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, got a big laugh from the audience when she took a bold stand against "rigid, one size fits all policies."  The FDA Commissioner didn't convince the room full of drug development people for whom the FDA bureaucracy is a major industry hurdle that the FDA was now a flexible user friendly agency.  But she did earn votes as a possible successor to Jimmy Fallon, if he flops on the Tonight Show host.

As a securities lawyer, I always get a big kick out of the Securities and Exchange Commission.  A decade ago, the SEC issued rules that require all securities disclosure documents be written in "Plain English." 
That might not be funny if you haven't read any SEC rules, but it's hysterical to securities lawyers like me who wonder: What is the native language of our rules makers? 

DOS gets the most votes.  I'm convinced the whole Government is a robot that someone mistakenly believes can learn English.

Our Government's long-term struggles with communications raise the question:  Is this a global problem?  Do Chinese bureaucrats require people to speak in Plain Chinese when they file documents with their Government?  I wonder what Plain Chinese looks like.  Can you tell Plain Chinese from ordinary Chinese?  Who decides?

 Of course, the Internal Revenue Service usually represents America in the World Bureaucrat Olympics, where bureaucrats around the world compete by creating the most confusing forms.  That's one Olympics where America brings home lots of gold. 

America might not always have the fastest or the strongest athletes, but I'll match America's bureaucracy against any in the world.

What bureaucrat Olympic event does America usually win?

Just like America fields a dream team in Olympic basketball, America always wins the persistence prize.  Most countries stop taxing their citizens when they move abroad to live or work.  That's where American bureaucrats run up the score on their foreign counterparts.  They make America's 80 point victory over Nigeria at the 2012 Olympics look like a close game.

The IRS harasses Americans living abroad so much that foreign banks are refusing to accept deposits from Americans living and working outside the United States.  How can any foreign bureaucrats compete with that?

So, have I put you in the mood to picture the IRS naked yet?

If you would like to learn more about learning how to grow your business or other issues important to your success, you can reach me at or Or you can check out my eLearning course at or or you can purchase my books at