MARTY RUSSELL: Can't we get a deduction for trying?

By Marty Russell

It’s that time of the year again when we all gather around the dinner table, bow our heads and gaze at a pile of papers hoping somewhere in the stack there’s a receipt for something that will allow us to claim $1 million in tax refunds on a $60,000 annual salary. Unfortunately, nowhere in the stack is there an incantation that will cause the tax man’s brain to suddenly sprout flowers and start singing Broadway tunes.
Yes, it’s tax time again, time to start brainstorming for deductions beyond that dollar bill you dropped into the kettle at Christmas and then demanded a receipt for. Time to scour the house for any General Electric appliances you can write off since GE posted a $19 billion profit last year and didn’t pay a single cent in taxes. Surely ownership of a GE air conditioner qualifies me as a part owner in the company which means I don’t have to pay taxes either. Probably not.
But there has to be something I’ve spent money on in the past year that Uncle Sam would recognize as a valid deduction, like two dogs and two cats. If parents can write off their children as deductions why can’t those of us without kids write off our pets? They are, after all, legitimate and necessary costs of living. Not only do they contribute to our well-being, keeping us from becoming stressed-out and blowing up that traffic light that always catches us when we’re running late, but the dogs provide homeland security, a vital government service. The cats, meanwhile, keep down the rodent population protecting me from contracting the plague and therefore preventing me from being a burden on the government health care system.
Then there’s the annual beer expense, a major write-off. It’s been well documented that, without beer, there would be no civilization so by consuming mass quantities I’m doing my part to prevent the fall of the civilized world. Consider it an anti-terrorism expense.
In addition, it’s been proven that no known human pathogen can exist in beer so it’s also preventative medicine, something lawmakers keep touting as the best way to lower national health care costs. Just doing my part so that ought to be worth a sizeable deduction.
And, although it hasn’t been researched yet, I have a theory that the best defense against radiation is not iodine but beer. As the radiation from those Japanese nuclear reactors slowly makes it was to Mississippi, I’m forced to purchase and consume large quantities of the stuff so I don’t become a human X-ray. Hey, Mr. Tax Man, prove me wrong.
Then there’s the deduction for intellectual property rights, such as creative works. Hey, it took me all of 10 minutes to create these deductions.
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 222 Farley Hall, University MS 38677 or by email at

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