Bonjour, mes amis! Il y a trop longtemps, non? Bon.
As I was saying, it's been too long. Not to worry though, you haven't missed a thing, because nothing has happened. I need to finally knuckle down and do my taxes, which may be a bit more of a pain than in years past, since I'm no longer a student. I just hope I don't actually owe anything. Reens has graciously agreed to give me a hand with it this evening, which is good, since I've never actually done my own taxes. I don't expect that it'll be that hard, but I've been sort of dreading it because it's harder to read anything issued by the Internal Revenue Service (a pretty euphemistic name for the Department for the External Collection of Internal Funds, if you ask me) than it is to slog through Beowulf in its original Anglo-Saxon (believe me, I've actually tried). Perhaps its because to the layman such as myself, it all seems arbitrarily too complicated. Of course, it's not actually arbitrary, the complexity comes from there being a tax on virtually anything imagineable, and a carefully written (if still practically unintelligible) series of loopholes for each tax. Yay, lobbyists. Here's an actual selection from the instructions to Form W-9, which I had to deal with at work:
Payments that may be subject to backup withholding include interest, dividends, broker and barter exchange transactions, rents, royalties, nonemployee pay, and certain payments from fishing boat operators [emphasis mine].
What's with the specific mention of fishing boat operators? I have no idea. I'm guessing that the only people who actually know the answer to that question are a handful of salty old sea dogs, their attorneys (yes, even salty old sea dogs have lawyers these days), a Bhuddist monk who stumbled accross the meaning of U.S. tax law while in a years-long meditative trance, and the anonymous nihilist poet who actually writes all of this garbage, whose impressive oeuvre includes thousands of pages of nonsense which were either accidentally or maliciously incorporated into tax legislation. A few pages later on the form, you find this:
Other payments [sic]. You must give your correct TIN, but you do not have to sign the certification unless you have been notified that you have previously given an incorrect TIN. “Other payments” include payments made in the course of the requester’s trade or business for rents, royalties, goods (other than bills for merchandise), medical and health care services (including payments to corporations), payments to a nonemployee for services, payments to certain fishing boat crew members and fishermen, and gross proceeds paid to attorneys (including payments to corporations) [emphasis mine].
What? Why are payments involving fishing boats different than other payments to "nonemployees"? IS there even a "why"? Keep in mind that the above excerpts were from the four pages of unintelligible instructions on how to fill out a one-page form, which contained only spaces for your Name, Tax Identification Number (TIN), and "Signature of U.S. Person, including citizens of the U.S. and those with Resident Alien status." There was an entire page of possible but not definite situations where you might not have to provide a signature at the bottom of the form, in the event that you are even required to fill it out at all. Anyways, if you need me I'll be meditating on the fact that because the earth is round, there is actually sky beneath my feet. After meditating on that for a while, I'll use the positive energy from the life-force of the birds which are without doubt flying through the sky beneath me to levitate, while at the same time visualizing in my mind each individual drop of ink on each page of my tax forms, and in that transient state the ink and I shall be as one mind, and shall have at one time all knowledge of one another. The ink shall understand my purpose for being, and I shall understand the ink's purpose for being, and when I awake from that trance I shall know how to prepare my taxes, thus validating the ink's existence. And then, Nirvana.