I do not get as many letters as I used to do, which may be due to the Internet or to the fact that I do not have as many literate friends as I used to. I still like getting a letter, as long as it is a letter and not a bill. Bill used to write me but he was always asking for money.
I did get a letter this past week. It was unexpected but it was from a family member. Good old Uncle Sam sent me an epistle this past week. I was anxious to see how he was getting along. I hear all these rumors, you know, but it is good to hear straight from the donkey’s mouth.
When I opened the letter it was not a personal letter. It was addressed to me, all right, and it had to do with personal matters, of a sort. But he was not chatting about what he was up to these days. Rather, it was a request for money.
It seems that way back in the year of our Lord 2003, there was a mix-up in my tax return and somehow I still owed the IRS money. My attitude was, let bygones be bygones. That is ancient history. Let us just get along.
There was a phone number on the letter inviting me to call. It was right after lunch so I thought why not get this over with and get on with the rest of my life. I hummed a little tune as I dialed the number and then waited for it to ring.
I finally got an automated service and was asked to press a certain number if I wanted to continue in English. My English is not that good and in high school, I got a D-plus in my senior year. But as it is the best language I know, I opted for English. For some reason I pressed the wrong number and got something that sounded a little bit like Spanish. My Spanish is not good, actually not at all, I had no idea what they were saying. I really hate to hang up on people while they are talking but I finally hung up and re-dialed the number.
I do not want to complain, but I hate punching a number for this and punching numbers for that and finally getting someone on the other end of the line that is not a real person but they’re telling me what to do. Who do they think they are? My wife?
After several tries and punching more numbers, I finally got back to the automated system. Through no skill of my own, I finally punched the right numbers and actually got a live person. Now, I thought to myself, I will get this taken care of, and that will be that.
The gentleman on the other end of the line was none other than a friendly IRS person. After exchanging a few pleasantries, we finally got down to business. I finally was able to ask what all of the paperwork meant that I received.
He began what turned out to be a very long spiel and it sounded somewhat similar to my high school teacher’s explanation of Einstein’s theory of relativity. I could not relate to my high school teacher’s explanation anymore than I could relate to what my IRS man was talking about on the other end of the phone. If what he was talking about was in any way relative to my well-being, I had no way of knowing.
When he was finished with his long, drawn-out explanation all I could say was, “Huh?”
He then proceeded to go through the whole process again, ad nausea. After the second time of explaining what these taxes were, I knew less about its then after the first time of explaining it. I am beginning to see a conspiracy here.
“Exactly why do I owe these taxes?”
Obviously, he thought I said, “Where do you buy your axes?” And began talking in Chinese, or so it sounded like Chinese. When he was finished, I could not remember why I called him in the first place.
Finally, in somewhat of a desperate mood, I asked him how much I owed. As it turned out, I owed the IRS $363.94. Why I owed that much, I still have not figured out. I must say good old Uncle Sam knows what he is doing when he hires people to man the IRS phone lines who know Chinese.
The only thing I could say was, “The check is in the mail.” He did mention something about putting a lien on my bank account. Ha ha! There is barely enough money in my banking account to keep my account open. If anybody, especially the IRS, liens on my bank account they will fall smack on their face. I would like to be around for that one.
Paying taxes is one of the responsibilities of every American. Someone has well said that the only certain thing in life is death and taxes. Good old Uncle Sam has found a way for us to pay taxes after we have died.
I remember the words of Jesus. “And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God the things which be God’s” (Luke 20:25 KJV).
That is the best separation of church and state I know.
The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The church web site is www.whatafellowship.com.