So tax day's come and gone and by right about halfway through this sentence or so, some of you will have realized you completely forgot to file your taxes for the year. I know this because one of the advantages of writing for a fairly large audience of fairly unimpressive people, is that I can be pretty confident that any activity I can imagine is being actively performed by one of my readers as soon as I think it. Right now there is a man reading this article while gently working a Dustbuster back and forth over his genitals, humming Aerosmith's Love in an Elevator to himself. And now he's staring slack-jawed at the screen in surprise as I describe his situation precisely. Yes I'm talking to you, sir. Stop that immediately. Nothing gives you that right.
Anyways. Management asked me to write a column about people having to file taxes late, undeterred by the fact that I was Canadian and might not have the same perspective on taxation that our audience has. When I pointed that out to them, they responded that it didn't really matter what I wrote, because "they're all just laughing at your accent anyways." Although I wasn't quite sure what how that was possible, I chose to ignore it and seized upon the opportunity to bore my audience with tales from my homeland. Regular readers will recall back in the early stages of the health care debate when I offered some insights into how a single-payer health care system looks like in Canada, and how the glories of socialism will soon wash over the bourgeois swine, drowning them in righteous fury. It was pretty popular. Surely I could do something similar for taxation?
Here in Canada tax day isn't terribly stressful, as we don't have any complicated paperwork to fill out, our wages being deducted entirely from our employer the minute we earn them. Tax day, then, is more of a celebration of our leaders' far-sightedness and wisdom, with neighborhood parties, and traditional music and dancing. Bread dishes are often served.
It was a couple years ago during these celebrations, while congratulating a friend for paying his taxes responsibly ("Kadosh"), that a bolt of sheer terror ran down my spine: I had neglected to pay all my taxes. You see, throughout most of 2007, Cracked was paying its writers in bulk cases of "Awemonds," a since-discontinued almond substitute. Although the cash value at the time for Awemonds was actually negative in the United States, in Canada they were highly prized, a byproduct of Canada's draconian nut tariffs.
We also have a big problem with plum smuggling.
Although this sudden influx of false nuts had made me amongst the wealthiest resident on my hexagon (Canadian streets are laid out hexagonally), the fact that it wasn't delivered as hard currency meant that it had completely slipped my mind to consider it as income. But now that Tax Day was upon us, as soon as the tax man heard about my omission, I was sure to be fed to the dogs, or even fed the dogs. Politely excusing myself from the party, I returned to my home and pondered my options.
Option 1: File my taxes late
Although I had the funds available to pay the taxes owing on my income (100 percent of it), because I was filing late there would be additional penalties required. Some quick calculations showed that, with interest, I would have to be put to death 1.8 times to pay back all my debt. I considered that unacceptable. Perhaps if I was younger it would have been more feasible, but not now.
Option 2: Suicide
I didn't actually consider this, but for those unfamiliar with Canadian tax law I'll explain why this was never a serious option.
Contrary to popular opinion, in Canada your tax debts do not get shifted to your family when you commit suicide, primarily because families are not legal entities. Obviously we're born to human mothers, and we do indeed love them as they care for us for the first eight days of our life. At that point we're taken from them and begin our training on how to work with industrial quantities of chemicals. (For reasons too obvious to mention, all Canadian children are taught to work with industrial quantities of chemicals from a very young age.)
No, if you commit suicide in Canada, your tax debts are wiped clean immediately – the burden effectively being absorbed by society as a whole. What's the downside? Well, if you ever commit suicide, during the following year's Tax Day celebrations, the Canadian government will, straight up, murder eight dogs in your name. Little beagles. The pamphlets reminding us of this policy that the government sends us every year on our birthdays are sobering, and consequently there hasn't been a suicide in Canada in years, or for that matter, a birthday party.
Option 3: Huge Fake BeardLike all responsible governments, the Canadian government monitors its citizen's whereabouts at all time with a carefully choreographed network of spies and crows. Additionally, all Canadians have their faces photocopied at birth, and every five years thereafter, to be fed into the network of tracking cameras that occupy our streets.
Both these systems could be foiled with the implementation of Plan: Huge Fake Beard. Since a grade school accident with an industrial quantity of chemicals, I've been unable to grow facial hair, and I reasoned that by donning a huge fake beard that I could not possibly grow myself, I would be completely unrecognizable to all neighbors and revenue agents on the lookout for me or my Awemond wealth. However it's for this very reason that Canada doesn't have any fake beard stores, which meant I would have to improvise.
"What did you say this requisition for 30 square centimeters of carpet was for again?" the worker at the carpet requisition counter queried. She glared at me suspiciously.
I replied coolly: "A very small building. Extremely efficient." Seeing her not buying that, I continued,
"I mean you no insult fellow worker. Your profession is carpet requisitions, and I can see you are good at it, but you do not need to understand the method behind my profession. Simply fill the order post-haste. Kadosh."
The worker snorted, glancing back down at the paperwork, squinting at it. "Hmm." Leaning over the counter I saw her looking at a photocopied picture of my face. The revenue agency was already after me!
Option 4: Daring Boat Escape
I sprinted to the docks, clasping a book of carpet samples to my face as I ran. Spotting a boat at the end of a pier with a man beside it, I yelled out: "You! List your three favorite type of boating!"
"Uh, OK…" the man considered that, before I ended his contemplations with a running punch to the neck, having not broken stride since I delivered my well crafted distracting phrase. I leaped off the dock and on to the boat, surprising another man standing there. I paused, searching for another suitable phrase to distract him with before I struck. My mind drawing a blank, I gave up and lunged, punching him in the neck and over the side of the boat. I started towards the boat controls, hesitated, then returned to the boat's edge and called down to the man floundering in the water below.
"Hey you! Hey guy! Fuck you!"
That done, I returned to the controls and fired the boat into gear, or spun it up, or whatever the nautical term for boat initialization is. You know what I'm talking about. I pushed the big boat lever forward.
The boat picked up speed, and I made my way out of downtown Canada's harbor. Had I made it?
No, I hadn't. Police boats converged on me from multiple directions, someone clearly having raised the alarm before I even reached the harbor. The carpet requisition officer must have had a stronger neck than I first thought. Several dozen warning shots that probably were not meant as warning shots inspired me to cut the throttle and abandon my escape.
Option 5: Negotiations
I was seated at the boat table across from a man from the Canada Revenue Agency while a police officer steered us back to Canada harbor. My case file lay open on the table in front of me.
"That's the offer Mr. Bucholz," the revenue agent said with a blank expression. "You use your position as an orifice of the American media to disseminate approved messages when we ask you too."
"And if I refuse?"
He laughed at me. "Refuse? Sure, go right ahead. This is the best deal you could possibly hope for, in that it involves you helping the country you love so much, not having any more wages garnished, and living."
I swallowed. Glancing from my file laid out on the table in front of me, to the policeman at the wheel of the boat, to the revenue agent across from me, I nodded and said, "OK…"
Option 6: Heroic neck punches, then ramming a stolen boat into the side of a whale cannery while repeatedly screaming "Maybe you should garnish my balls by recourse of your mouth, Comrade!"
Option 7: Utter capitulation
"OK, you've got a deal," I said, conceding that my bargaining position (badly injured while lying prone in a pile of whale innards with several guns pointed at me) was a weak one.
After recovering (thank you socialized medicine!) my life returned essentially back to normal. My obligation to the Canadian government was rarely called upon, and then only because they wanted me to surreptitiously use Canadian spelling in certain wourds. I was even allowed to change around certain elements of this story to make myself look a lot more like an unhinged badass and not someone who got called in to a routine audit and sat there furiously wetting his pants for three straight hours.