The Tax­man Cometh

The Compass - - EDITORIAL - Harold Wal­ters Harold Wal­ters lives Hap­pily Ever Af­ter in Dunville, in the only Cana­dian prov­ince with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at gh­wal­

“Ask not for whom the Tax­man cometh. He cometh for You.” — I said that

“Now in those days a de­gree went out from Cae­sar Au­gus­tus that a cen­sus be taken of all the in­hab­ited earth.” — King James Bi­ble

Why do you s’pose Ol’ Cae­sar Au­gus­tus de­greed that a cen­sus be taken?

So all hands could be taxed, eh b’ys?

Frig­gin’ Au­gus­tus. Tax­ing tout la monde caught on like patch-a-berry jam on dough balls.

April is wan­ing. In the Land of the Maple Leaf all the in­hab­i­tants are tal­ly­ing up their loonies and fill­ing in blanks and boxes on in­come tax forms.

Nev­er­the­less, de­spite my im­per­fect abil­ity to quote scrip­ture, Dear­est Duck star­tled me yes­ter­day when she ex­claimed, “Easy enough for you to say!”

Nat­u­rally as­sum­ing I was at fault for… for… some­thing or other, for sure, I said, “My Duck?”

Jab­bing her in­dex fin­ger at her iPad’s screen with force enough to squish all the jel­lies in Candy Crush Land, she con­tin­ued, “Easy enough. Easy enough.”

“My Duck?” said I again, lean­ing over, all the bet­ter to see that she wasn’t pok­ing Candy Crush cells. Rather, she was jam­ming her fin­ger into the eyes of a Face­book post­ing. “My Duck?” “Look. Look,” she said, sound­ing like a Dick and Jane reader. “They’re at it again. Say­ing churches should be taxed.”

“Hmmm?” said I, think­ing that such ac­tion might not nec­es­sar­ily be a bad thing, con­sid­er­ing Dear­est Duck and I had done our tal­ly­ing, filled in our blanks and boxes… and wept.

“Where do those… those…” — I’d hate to think the word my Dear­est hissed was god-for­saken? — “those peo­ple think churches get their money?”

Never the curli­est shav­ing in the wood­box, I said, “What?”

“Tax­ing the church would be like a dou­ble tax on church go­ers,” said Dear­est Duck, still beat­ing the face off her iPad.

Fear­ing her dis­tress might trig­ger a stroke, or — a lesser fear, for cer­tain — frac­ture the iPad’s face, dam­age which would not qual­ify for an in­come tax claim, I gen­tly pulled the de­vice from her hands. “Be calm, my Duck,” said I. “You be calm,” she said, jumped to her feet and chuffed off like a steam­ing teaket­tle.

In­trigued, I pon­dered Dear­est’s point. “Hmmm?” Since I still had Dear­est’s iPad in hand, I thought it might be ben­e­fi­cial to chat with Siri.

“Siri,” I said. “Where do churches get their money?” I swear Siri said, “Hmmm?” Then, af­ter some dig­i­tal com­pu­ta­tions, Siri said, “More than fifty per cent of church monies is ac­crued from parish­ioners’ giv­ings.”

Ah, from col­lec­tion plates.

Siri con­tin­ued: “A sec­ond source of in­come for most de­nom­i­na­tions is in­vest­ments.”

Although she spoke in terms of eco­nomic fac­tors, as­sets and li­a­bil­i­ties and ap­por­tion­ments — or some­thing equally con­fus­ing to my be­nighted nog­gin — when the cab­bage was boiled down, so to speak, all I un­der­stood were in­vest­ments.

Said in­for­ma­tion de­served a stud­ied “Hmmm,” I fig­ured.

Still de­lib­er­at­ing, I lodged Siri down on an end ta­ble and went off to steep a cup of Ten­sion Tamer.

Be­cause I was in deep­est con­tem- pla­tion, fix­ing Ten­sion Tamer took a spell.

When I re­turned to the iPad and swiped it open, Siri was still spew­ing data and scrolling in­for­ma­tion down the screen.

I sipped Ten­sion Tamer and sized up Siri’s out­pour­ings.

Ah — to put the Church’s means of in­come in a ver­nac­u­lar — “They charge for stuff.”

So, was Dear­est Duck’s wrath rightly right­eous? Would con­gre­ga­tions be dou­ble-wham­mied? Don’t look at me. By the time I reached the dregs of my Ten­sion Tamer I was think­ing about wi­d­ows.

Well, one bib­li­cal widow in par­tic­u­lar.

In my ig­no­rance, I con­fess I have no idea if Cae­sar Au­gus­tus was the chief rom­per in Rome when the widow in ques­tion at­tended…? ... well, at­tend tem­ple in her day, I s’pose. You re­mem­ber the story. When the col­lec­tion plate reached her, the widow hove in a cou­ple of mites — small­est coins of the Ro­man realm. That’s a lie. In Cae­sar Who­ever’s day the coins would have been lep­tons. It was King James’ boy-oes who ex­changed lep­tons for mites. Siri told me so. “Harry,” said Dear­est Duck, re­turned with her ire ironed flat. “Ev­i­dently, your thoughts are as dis­jointed as a leg of mut­ton.”

That’s an­other lie. Dear­est Duck didn’t men­tion a leg of mut­ton. That’s my fool­ish­ness.

Dis­jointed thoughts or not, I won­dered if the Tax­man cometh col­lect­ing at the Church’s door will he be claw­ing at any fi­nal coins the widow has squir­relled away in her change purse? He might. Thank you for read­ing.

“I sipped Ten­sion Tamer and sized up Siri’s out­pour­ings.”

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