The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Budd McLaughlin

April 14, 2013

The tax man cometh Monday, like it or not

“Things as certain as death and taxes, can be more firmly believed.”

— Daniel Defoe, from “The Political History of the Devil,” 1726

Like it or not, the tax man cometh on Monday. Did you get yours mailed, or are you dragging your feet until the last minute?

The wife and I turned in our necessary tax documents to our tax preparer in February, and received the bad news that we would have to pay through the nose a couple of weeks after that.

It hurt so much, we waited until this past week to make the payment. There was no way we were about to give the Internal Revenue Service their money early.

“One can be born free, then taxed to death.” — Unknown

I remember first entering the working world and learning the difference between “gross” and “net” pay.

I opened my first paycheck from my first real job (fast food, of course) and erroneously looked at the “gross” amount first.

“Wow,” I thought. “I figured this job wouldn’t pay anything!”

After flipping the paper stub over and seeing the actual amount written on the check, I realized I had a job that didn’t pay anything.

“What are all these abbreviations and strange, cryptic language?” I thought. I didn’t know what “SS” or “PAY DED” or “FED WITH” or “STATE WITH” meant, but I knew it would mean less gas in my car, fewer quarters for the pool hall and fewer cassettes in my tape deck.

“The best things in life are still free, but the tax experts are working overtime on the problem.” — Unknown

Fast-forward (to use a cassette term) 18 years later, and I continue to be bummed out by my federal and state withholdings. I’m even more bummed out when I find out how much Uncle Sam insists I pay him, even after he’s already taken his bi-weekly cut.

I suppose I could rebel, go “off the grid” and refuse to pay my taxes. But I certainly don’t want to wind up like Willie Nelson, trying to sell my paltry pontifications on late-night television while the IRS sells my stuff in the front yard.

Who’ll buy my memories? No one, probably.

— Managing editor and obedient American taxpayer Adam Smith can be reached at

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Budd McLaughlin

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