Jerome Kurtz Commissioner of Internal Revenue Washington, DC 20224 Dear Mr. Kurtz:
I want to thank you for the nice tax form. I particularly liked the opaline blue lettering on the cover -- but why the pink postage label? Did everyone else get pink, or have you singled me out? As a loyal American, may I remind you that scare tactics went out with McCarthy.
You invited suggestions for improving the tax form and instructions. What a coincidence! I'm fairly bursting with suggestions. Shall we jump right in?
As for Earned Income Credit, you list several questions by which I may determine my eligibility for EIC. Then you state: "If you answered NO to ANY question, you can't take the earned income credit. . . If you answered Yes to ALL the questions, you MAY be able to take it." Are we playing games, Mr. Kurtz? Hereafter, just tell me how I CAN take it. If I'm whipped from the start, don't lead me on.
Privacy Act Notice : As I understand it, the law requires you to explain your prying into my affairs -- and you do explain. You mention that other U.S. agencies may have access to my tax return -- and I accept that. But then I read: "And we may give it to foreign governments because of tax treaties they have with the United States."
What foreign governments? What tax treaties? This you don't explain. For some reason, you get to talking about foreign governments and suddenly clam up. You bail out with: "This is the only notice we must give you to explain the Privacy Act." I don't want to get nasty, but if you blab about me to a foreign government, I'll sue. And this is the only notice you'll get.
Now, am I single or married? Or, as you ominously put it: "WERE you single or married?" You state: "If you were single, divorced, or legally separated on December 31, consider yourself single for the whole year. . . If you were married on December 31, consider yourself married for the whole year."
Forgive me, but that's insane. You might just as well say, "If you're a buxom blonde, consider yourself Dolly Parton."
In Steps for Preparing Your Return, you state: "If you follow these steps and read the line-by-line instructions, we feel you can fill in your return quickly and accurately."
Quickly? Mr. Kurtz, Mr. Kurtz, whatever shall we do with you? The steps and instructions cover 44 pages. In addition, there are Schedules A, B, D, E, R, RP, TC, and Forms 1040, 2441, 5695. And an order blank for more forms and schedules.
When the taxpayer comes up for air you hit him with: "We mail forms and schedules to you based on what seems to be right for you." You can't know what's right for me: we've never met. You haven't the remotest chance of knowing what's right for me. Do I make myself clear?
You list certain items that the taxpayer needs at hand -- expense sheets, records, etc. Fine. May I suggest you add the stuff of reality: a dozen pencils, a ream of paper, a calculator (or IBM computer), Kleenex (if your eyes water easily), black coffee, aspirin, Vitamin C, a large "Do Not Disturb" sign and, last but by no means least, a friend or relative who can cope with hysteria.
You explained the term "child" several times. I know what a child is -- perhaps beter than most people. You see, the year my husband and I got married, his deductions jumped from 4 to 11 -- and if that didn't throw your people into a snit! In fact, your investigator broke down and cried.
But I digress. Although you explain "child," you don't explain "nominee" -- not so as any decent person could understand. Webster defines "nominee" as one who is nominated. You're not going to put up for office, are you? Don't.
I find something good: "You can deduct expenses for business use of part of your home . . ." I write a newspaper column, and I do it in what used to be my son's bedroom. He's on his own now. Naturally we miss him -- but it cheers us considerably to deduct his room.
Back to the bad: the entire booklet exudes a grasping quality. On page 5, however, is what has to be the ultimate in money-grubbing: "Did the taxpayer die before filing a return? All I can say is, if he didn't it's a miracle. And if he did -- what do you want, blood from a turnip?
This final item: by completing my tax return, I have rendered personal service to the IRS. Personal service, by your definition, is "Earned Income." Therefore, I submit the following bill: Supples (pencils, etc) $ 3.95 Labor (102 hrs. @ 3.10) 316.20 Family suffering (see notes) 5.00 Eye exam (Result of strain) 25.00 Line A, costs due me $350.15 Line B, actual cost (See notes) $514.00
NOTES: Through loss of my companionship for 102 hours, family suffered at 50 cents a head.
Actual cost represents fair compensation and includes 4 percent sales tax. My mental strain and foregoing advice are thrown in free. To compute your savings, subtract Line A from Line B.
I feel you can write me a check quickly and accurately. Sincerely yours, Faith Barnebey