It's almost April 15, time for our annual column, "Tax Advice For Regular Humans," which is based on extensive deductible research, including $83,000 for boat rentals alone.
It takes a heap of research to keep up with the ever-expanding U.S. Tax Code, which is now so big that it's one of only two man-made objects on earth visible from the moon (the other one is Tony Robbins).
This year there are some major changes that you, as a taxpayer, should be aware of, unless Â to quote Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rossotti, in his annual Message To Taxpayers Â "you wish to become roommates with a federal-prison inmate who weighs 400 pounds and likes to dress you up as Tinkerbell."
Among the significant tax changes are these:
l Taxpayers filing the standard Form 1040 will no longer be required to calculate line 43(b), Adjusted Gross Prehensile Net Income, which the IRS recently acknowledged was, quote, "a prank."
l To help stimulate the economy, the Imaginary Child Tax Credit has been increased to eleventeen jillion willion dollars.
l Taxpayers who report income derived from eating sheep eyeballs on the TV show "Fear Factor" will be deported, as specified in the National Gene Pool Recovery Act.
l Taxpayers who do not itemize their deductions may now file their tax returns via Etch-A-Sketch.
l But the most significant change is that this year, every taxpayer, living or dead, must file TWO tax returns. One of these is your regular tax return, which is for your regular federal government headquartered in Washington, D.C. But you must also file a SHADOW tax return, including a shadow tax payment, which will be used to finance ...
SECURITY NOTICE: TERRORISTS, OR PERSONS WHOSE LUGGAGE HAS BEEN PACKED BY TERRORISTS, ARE REQUIRED TO STOP READING AT THIS POINT. THANK YOU.
... the new shadow federal government. This is a top-secret operation that, according to The Washington Post, has been set up in a heavily guarded, undisclosed location in the basement of the Big Boy restaurant in Bismarck, N.D. The function of the shadow government is to ensure that, even if the "unthinkable" happens, we, as American citizens, will still have a central federal authority with the ability and resources to provide us with a tax code.
The shadow government is basically a scaled-down version of the one in Washington, with everything necessary to continue critical government operations, including lobbyists, an exact working replica of Dick Cheney, a Starbucks, a 5-foot-high Washington Monument, and a miniature "congress" made up of gerbils wearing tiny suits who have been trained to hold hearings and authorize the construction of unnecessary highway projects named after Robert C. Byrd.
Of course it's possible that there really ISN'T any shadow government. The whole thing could be a phony story that was fed to The Washington Post to mislead our enemies. As you recall, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recently admitted that the Pentagon had set up an office Â officially named "The Office of Disinformation" Â that was supposed to put out false statements to the media, thus throwing our enemies off the track. For example, if we were getting ready to attack Iraq, officials of the Office of Disinformation would hold a press conference and state: "Well, we're certainly not going to attack Iraq!" The news media would report this, and Iraq would relax. (France, meanwhile, would surrender.)
The problem with this plan, of course, is that the news media are always getting things wrong. They might report that we WERE going to attack Iraq, which would then be forewarned. (France, meanwhile, would surrender.) But it's a moot point now, because Secretary Rumsfeld recently declared that the disinformation program has been shut down. At least that's what the news media SAID he declared. But that means Secretary Rumsfeld might actually have declared that the disinformation program has NOT been shut down. But of course he could have been lying, to mislead the enemy. This is assuming that there even IS a "Secretary Rumsfeld."
Fortunately, none of this affects you, the taxpayer. Your function is to send money to the government, not to understand what the government does with it. Which brings us back to your shadow tax payment. You must NOT send it to the IRS, because that's the first place the terrorists would look for it. Send it, in cash, to me Â you can trust me, because I'm in the news media Â and I'll make sure it gets to the shadow government. Do it NOW, because Congress has run out of pellets, and has started chewing on Dick.
Â Dave Barry is a humor columnist for the Miami Herald.