With taxes due next week, we offer a tax tip sent to us by Leona Helmsley of Ossining, N.Y. "Only little people," she advises, "pay taxes." That's right! Little people pay. Big people don't. So be a Big Person and evade taxes. There is a reason only little people pay: Government spending benefits only little people. Consider the mohair subsidy. Soldiers once wore uniforms made of wool and mohair (produced from goat hair). To preserve the critical domestic supply in case of war, Congress began subsidizing mohair producers in 1954. To the relief of all soldiers, mohair has not been used in uniforms for decades. But Congress continues the $20 million mohair subsidy to goat ranchers, presumably to guarantee authenticity for World War I re-enactors. Like all government spending, the mohair subsidy helps only little people. Big people, by definition, do not raise goats. The big government programs, such as the $700 billion defense budget, are also for little people. Big People don't need defense. They can take care of themselves. Being a Big Person, you have a moral obligation to evade taxes that the government would only squander on little people. As a Big Person, you should use deductions to offset income. Suppose you have $100,000 in investment income. You could donate $100,000 to The Sisters of the Poor, offsetting your income with a charitable deduction and paying no taxes. You would also have no money to pay taxes, because, like a dummy, you gave your money to The Sisters of the Poor. So instead, take deductions without spending money. Businesses do this all the time by deducting "non-cash charges" such as depreciation, amortization, and other write-offs. Three clever strategies to generate non-cash tax deductions are:
Now I would like to teach you
- Depreciate your spouse. You can shelter up to half your income through spousal depreciation. Moreover, when you spouse complains, "You don't appreciate me," you can respond, "True, but my position is strictly tax-driven." If filing a joint return, you can each depreciate the other (so-called double declining depreciation).
- Amortize your children. They are a bunch of ingrates, so you might at least realize a tax saving by facing up to this fact.
- Write off your hopes and dreams: Compensate for life's disappointments by scamming the feds.
another important tax tip: If you give the IRS enough documents, you will not have to give it any money. The IRS is a government bureaucracy. The IRS values form, rules, procedure, and documentation over substance. They are not the amalgamation of Darth Vader, Warren Buffet, and The Rock. They are the same guys who run the Bureau of Mines and the National Agricultural Library. Suppose you deducted $100,000 for depreciating your spouse. First, you are unlikely to be audited. An absolute majority of IRS audits focus on little people such as the working poor who may have received a few hundred dollars in earned income tax credits. Only 29 percent of the corporations with assets of over $250 million were audited last year. And they are widely known to have their tax returns prepared by professional swindlers. You are small change. Even if you are audited, you will notice that the IRS field agent is not wearing a Superman cape. He is a civil servant in a short-sleeved white shirt and a food-stained tie. Suppress your urge to immediately confess and fork over interest and penalties in hopes of avoiding a prison term. The agent will not clamp you in irons. Instead, he will ask for documentation. Remember my rule about giving documents, not money, to the IRS. Therefore, produce 196 pages of documentation for your spousal depreciation expense. To wit: Appraisal
(40 pages plus exhibits). Appraisers offer two services – absurdly high appraisals and comically low appraisals. If the fee is high enough, an appraiser will value a tuna salad sandwich at $2.75 million. Pay a big fee, and tell the appraiser that, at least at this moment, you greatly value your spouse. To produce the highest possible valuation, the appraiser will use the component method, valuing separately your spouse's tolerance, good cheer, understanding, etc. Estimation of Useful Lives
(45 pages plus illustrations). Retain an actuarial firm to document the useful lives of the spousal components. The actuary will document that in a marriage, tolerance lasts no more than six years, while understanding is depleted in eight, and good cheer is gone in four. Substantiation of Depreciation Method
(55-page legal opinion plus jargon). Since you have used accelerated depreciation, you must demonstrate that your spouse is more valuable when young, svelte, hip, and attractive than when old, fat, demented, and incontinent. Upon receipt of these documents, the IRS examiner will say, "You have given me 196 pages of documents. Therefore you need not give me any money. Have a good day." You may now congratulate yourself. You are a Big Person.