Little has changed about our relationships with the taxman since Pieter Brueghel the Younger painted The Tax Collector's Office in 1640.
A few weeks ago my blood ran just as cold as the good folk in the painting as I tore open the letter from the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services.
What could this be about, I wondered.
What it was about was $595 that Connecticut was demanding from me for failing to file sales tax forms for books I never sold.
Earlier this year, I had been invited to hold a signing of my book, Fat Guy in a Fat Boat, in Mystic, Connecticut, .
I was advised by the venue that to be perfectly legal, I should register with the state so I could pay its 8.5% sales tax on any books sold. To add to the insult to my authorial sensibilities, I had to shell out $100 to register.
When I registered for the one-day event, I didn’t realize I was signing up for a long-term fiscal relationship with the State of Connecticut.
My left eye started to twitch as I started to read the first sentence:
The Department of Revenue Services’ records indicate that the entity listed above has not filed OS-114 for the period ended 03/31/2015.
The “entity listed above” referred to my publishing imprint, Pamet River Books, the name under which I had registered.
“Entity!” A hell of a way to minimize the significance of my artistic work, the offspring of my vital creative juices. The word “entity” leaped off the page and backhanded me across the face.
The U. S. tax code is said to be longer than the Bible—but without the good news. And this letter doled out some pretty bad news.
“Failure to file your return will result in the assessment of the proposed amount due: Tax $500 . . . Interest $20 . . . Penalty $75 . . . Proposed Amount Due $595
It went downhill from there:
Failure to respond within 15 days of this letter will result in the formal billing of the proposed amount due and the commencement of collection actions. These actions include but are not limited to the issuance of warrants, the placement of liens, and the imposition of civil and criminal penalties.
“Not limited!” What additional torment could these demons from The Constitution State conceivably conjure up after they exhaust warrants, liens and criminal penalties?
I put on my Confused Nice Guy voice and called the 800 number listed in the letter. A pleasant older lady explained that I must file monthly forms even if no tax is due. She said I could rid myself of the whole mess by going online and entering “close the business.”
I did not want to close my business. But I did--as far as the terrorist State of Connecticut is concerned.
Now I understand the challenge that the late economist Murray Rothbard laid out when he urged us to try to frame a definition of taxation that does not also include theft.
“Like the robber,” he wrote, “the State demands money at the equivalent of gunpoint; if the taxpayer refuses to pay, his assets are seized by force, and if he should resist such depredation, he will be arrested or shot if he should continue to resist.”
In my next blog, “When Relationships No Longer Serve”
Read my newest book, Fat Guy in a Fat Boat, in print or Kindle from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Fat-Guy-Boat-Peter-Yaremko/dp/0990905012/
Also available is my e-book, A Light from Within, about the small moments of our lives that seem commonplace until they are examined under a creative lens.
- Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00R3SF200
- iBooks (iPad): https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-light-from-within/id950880424?mt=11