My friend Rob is married to a gal named Sue. I always thought "Rob & Sue" would be the perfect name for a law firm, but instead Rob is an accountant.
Rob is so busy these days — especially on this, the beloved American holiday we call Tax Day — that he barely has time to swig the triple espressos that have kept him awake since the Super Bowl. Maybe it’s a tad late, but I figure a bit of free, last-minute tax advice will take some of the burden off my beleaguered friend and his red- eyed colleagues. Herewith, then, are answers to some commonly asked tax questions:
Q. What is an "exemption?"
A. It’s what millions of young Americans will want if Ralph Nader is right about the Pentagon bringing back the draft.
Q. I drove my daughter to see Avril Lavigne at the mall. Can I write off the mileage?
A. You mean that singer who wears so much eye makeup she looks like a raccoon?
Q. I accidentally released a political opponent’s W2 forms. What should I do?
A. Did he win or lose?
Q. He won.
A. File IRS Form 3903, "Moving Expenses."
Q. Can I claim a medical deduction for whip marks received during an Arizona State University fraternity hazing?
A. Only if you did not submit IRS Form 8824, "Like-Kind Exchanges."
Q. I live in Gilbert and can’t find a decent restaurant in town. What can I do?
A. Wrong department. Check with the Food and Drug Administration.
Q. Thanks to the tax cuts, Vice President Dick Cheney paid $88,047 less in taxes this year than last. I work at Wal-Mart, so how many hours of work is that for me?
A. 13,044 hours at $6.75 an hour. But hey, there’s always IRS Form 8586, "Low-Income Housing Credit."
Q. My child is an elite athlete at an East Valley high school. Can we get any special breaks for that?
A. Your child is probably getting enough special breaks the way it is, but if he or she has been transferred to a new school for disciplinary reasons the new school must file IRS Form 8839, "Qualified Adoption Expenses."
Q. I pitch for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Will that affect my federal tax filing?
A. You might consider IRS Form 8582, "Passive Activity Loss Limitations."
Q. I am an illegal street racer. Has the Arizona Legislature provided any tax breaks for nitrous oxide?
A. No, nitrous oxide does not fit Arizona’s definition of "alternative fuels."
Q. My husband has paranoid suspicions whenever I have to work late. What can I do?
A. The IRS offers help via Form 8857, "Request for Innocent Spouse Relief."