Friday, December 12, 2008

We Live and Die; We Pay Taxes

It is well established that in life we face two certainties: death and taxes. We will all die, and it is likely that we will all pay taxes. Now I suppose it could be argued there are exceptions. Religious folks often accept the immortality of various saints or prophets. Likewise, many cultures exclude the poor and needy from taxation. However, as writers, artisans, and freelancers, we can probably accept the general premise. We will all die; we will all be taxed.

Given these two certainties it behooves us as we go about our writing, artistry, and whatnot, that we exploit both death and taxes to our advantage. How we go about it in our writing and artistry varies. For example, the picture portrayed in this posting certainly utilizes a symbol of death to make a vivid statement relevant to a cholera outbreak in earlier times. In a section of an unpublished novel I took to my critiquing group last night, I had my protagonist's best friend killed off by the antagonist's hireling by running him down with a vehicle in a parking lot.

The odd thing about death is that we can never accurately report on it ourselves. It needs our imagination to conceive it. Accordingly, it has played and continues to play such a big role in literature that it is difficult to get your arms around it or to fully use it up. Writers and artists and are always conceiving new ways of making it seem real. Perhaps, more importantly, the consideration of death in some sense is the consideration of life.

Taxes are another matter. We all experience taxation. If we don't pay income tax because it doesn't apply to us, we pay sales taxes, or taxes when we buy various tickets to be admitted to entertainment, or a fare, including taxes, to ride on public transportation.

So we are constantly confronted in life with escaping death and taxes. How do we go about it? How do we escape death? How do we escape taxes? Those are questions I wish to explore here to some degree, particularly the latter: escaping taxes. I happen to know something about that because I've spent an entire career involved with taxes. More specifically, income taxes.

I also want to explore the other question, escaping death, because it plays such an important role in writing and in artistry. In literature, we constantly try to understand death and its implications. We utilize conceits associated with it like the afterlife. We contrast love with death. Our music often makes it a theme. I think, for example, of "O Danny Boy" as Ronan Tynan sings it.

Think about this. In the United States of America people are subject to an income tax. The basic principle in the US tax system is that all income from whatever source derived is taxed. Think about that, and I'll cover it some more later. Remember though, all income.

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