by Pettus Read
As temperatures drop and snow falls this time of the year, most of my nighttime reading chores before the fire involves publications promising spring. Winter has never been one of my favorite seasons and since the holidays are over it only seems appropriate to have hopes of an early spring or at least a mild winter.
Usually when days seem the coldest, those who produce seed catalogs know that somewhere out there a person like me is needing a reminder that spring is not that far off. I really enjoy going to the mailbox and finding a large number of brightly colored seed catalogs and tractor company offers. It warms the cockles of my heart (whatever they are) just to get a catalog of this year's hottest lawn mowing machines. Not meaning I'm going to buy one, but when you have cold cockles you need them warmed every now and then.
Last week I got tree, seed and tractor catalogs all in one day. That night and several nights after, I planned numerous gardens that would never be planted and crops that will never be harvested. I forgot about the 9 degrees outside and enjoyed thoughts of warm summer sun on my JD lawn tractor setting outside under wraps just waiting for the grass to grow.
New tomato varieties, dwarf apple trees, and pumpkins galore seemed to call my name as the maple firewood crackled and popped in the fireplace at our cozy winter cabin. I love to garden from my easy-chair and the winter months afford me that luxury even more.
However, the other night as I scanned through my catalog collection, a strange packet of materials had made its way into my treasure trove. There amongst the Burpee and Stark Brothers collections was my IRS 1040 package of income tax forms. At that sight my cockles soon turned cold again and spring seemed to be not that pleasant of a thought. April 15th does come in the spring and it is one day I had just as well forget. But, being an American citizen I do receive the opportunity to participate in this annual event and I guess I will just have to make the best of it.
While going through some other materials in my stack of catalogs and papers, I ran across some very timely information that just seemed to come to my attention at the same time IRS sends me my packet.
No author was given and it was one of those filler/information type articles you find in tabloids, so how correct it is I really don't know. Here is what I learned that frosty evening.
The Gettysburg address is 269 words, the Declaration of Independence is 1,337 words, and the Holy Bible is only 773,000 words (I don't know to which version the author was referring). However, the tax law has grown from 11,400 words in 1913, to 7 million words today.
There are at least 480 different tax forms, each with many pages of instructions. Even the easiest form, the 1040E has 33 pages in instructions, and all in fine print.
The IRS sends out 8 billion pages of forms and instructions each year. Laid end to end, they would stretch 28 times around the earth.
American taxpayers spend $200 billion and 5.4 billion hours working to comply with federal taxes each year, more than it takes to produce every car, truck, and van in the United States.
Sixty percent of taxpayers must hire a professional to get through their own return. Taxes eat up 38.2% of the average family's income; that's more than for food, clothing and shelter combined.
As I pondered those anonymous facts, I immediately knew that winter's evening that the seed catalogs were more exciting than the packet of government forms that had hitched a ride in my "spring-dreaming" library. As I gave the packet a fling to my desk across the room, I also gave it a Scarlet O'Hara reply of, "I'll think about it tomorrow."
Now, which tomato variety am I not going to plant tonight?