Dear Mr. Tax Man/Ms. Tax Woman: Perhaps by now you’ve noticed the invoice enclosed with my 1040 form and my W-2’s. After calculating my “taxes owed” amount and taking the standard deductions, it occurred to me that the amount I supposedly owe is hardly commiserate with the benefits I enjoy - so I took the liberty of adjusting that amount. Granted, when I began, I thought I’d only save myself a few dollars. But after an evening spent with an adding machine, I realized that you guys owe me a lot of money! First, I automatically slashed the amount I owe by 35 percent to account for pay inequity. Being female, this is how much less I make than male peers who do the same work. I was going to let this one pass, but then remembered that my landlord still charges me full price, as do the utility and phone companies, auto mechanics tend to charge me more than men, and the clothes I have to buy to wear to that 35-percent-less job cost a considerable amount more than my male co-worker’s Dockers and button downs -- and let’s not even talk about dry cleaning bills! So, since nobody charges me 35 percent less for essential goods and services, I figured I’d let the government catch the check on this one. (Perhaps “no one” is a little hasty. If I get my oil changed at one of those instant places on a “Ladies Tuesday”, I can get a free wilted rose. Oh, and if I go to cheesy dance clubs before 8 p.m. on Wednesdays, I can avoid the $5 cover -- all that just for being female!) After all, you guys are the ones who passed the Equal Pay Act of 1963, in well, 1963 and then never enforced it. While it was nice of you to also pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to further prevent wage discrimination -- you didn’t enforce that one either. Then I took off an additional 15 percent, though I admit that’s an arbitrary amount, because President Bush recently decided to close the White House Women’s Office. The way I figure it, the 15 percent is a drop in the bucket compared to all the money and opportunities that I’ll miss out on without that office. As it is, even though women make up 50 percent of the work force, 63 percent of all workers earning minimum wage or less are women. This despite the fact that women earn 55 percent of the nation’s baccalaureate degrees. So if we were making 35 percent less, despite making up half the work force and holding more than half of the degrees, with a national office looking out for our interests, these next four years can only get worse. You guys are really going to owe me next year! The next few deductions are tricky, so bear with me. I’m deducting seven percent of what your office claims I owe to pay for my gym membership. Yes, I use it . At least three times a week. I feel this is a legitimate deduction because being in shape is necessary to landing the 35-percent-less job. Fat girls are even less likely to be hired and more likely to be underpaid. Another 20 percent has been taken off to cover the cost of free flowing Merlot and approximately 23 pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. These were necessary expenditures in that I had to do something to cope with sexual harassment at work -- another law you guys passed but never enforced. (Sexual harassment, incidentally and ironically, is both the downside to the gym membership and the reason said membership is necessary.) I figure that deducting the amount spent on alcohol and Chunky Monkey would cost the government less than if I were to start seeing a therapist and deducted those expenses. Aren’t I patriotic? I deducted another 25 percent because I don’t have children. Wait, let me explain. I spoke to my brother on the phone last night and he told me that he and his wife were able to deduct $13,000 from their taxes because they had twin babies this year. It’s hardly fair that I should be penalized by not getting some kind of child-related deduction when it’s my sister-in-law, and not me, who was irresponsible and forgot that antibiotics render birth control ineffective. Moreover, twin babies mean that one of them has to stay home from work. So, while I’m out here earning a taxable income, my sister-in-law is home taking care of the kids. (I’m tempted to deduct what I spend on birth control, too. Don’t push me.) On a nicer note, I think it’s really great that the IRS is doing direct deposits for refunds this year. That sure saves me a trip to the bank and it’s one mile less for me to report for mileage next year! So, I’m enclosing a voided blank check so you can get my routing number right. Thanks again and better luck next year! Rebekah Gleaves

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