Saturday, April 24, 2010

Many happy returns

First of all, if the weekend finds you at a point of no return, do not despair. You still have until midnight Friday, April 30 to correct this.

Second. We did our taxes early this calendar year, therefore we can now afford to have some (bittersweet) fun with the subject.

The Table Talk of Samuel Marchbanks is a collection of Robertson Davies's witty columns, signed with the pseudonym Marchbanks, in the Peterborough Examiner. The book was first published way back in 1949. The good ol' date attests to the enduring quality of everything that has to do with Canadian income taxes (though their appeal is universal), a temporary wartime measure introduced in 1917. Here's what Marchbanks proposes on the matter:
This is a time of year when I think sourly of Government expenditures. I reckon that my Income Tax pays the salary of one minor official, such as the censor of books. [..] Frankly I think it would be a good idea if every taxpayer were told what government stooge he maintained. Small taxpayers would then feel that they owned an eighth of a charwoman; modest taxpayers like myself would own petty officials; wealthy men, who pay a lot of taxes, would be allotted ten or twenty clerks, or a brace of deputy ministers. With this knowledge we could go to Ottawa from time to time and chivvy and nag our hirelings. Such a scheme would give a taxpayer some pride in his taxpaying and would greatly increase bureaucratic efficiency.
Third, while we were engaged in calculating the medical expenses (lines 330 and 331) for several family members, the portion we could claim for each receipt after deducting the insurance refund (if any), the different totals for the one ideal twelve-month period vs. each one's 3% of net income (line 236) or $2,011 (whichever is less) threshold, and the potential refundable medical expense supplement (line 452) for all of this, we were hardly surprised to discover that income taxes anagrams suitably, appositely, and not so subtly into toxic enemas.

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