O America! I file now my taxes

There’s a little-known provision in the U.S. Tax Code that I think I’m going to use with this year’s income tax filing. Even though the Internal Revenue Service provides taxpayers with dozens of different forms to make it easier to communicate all the appropriate information, you are not in fact required to use any of these forms. As long as they get the data they need in a timely fashion, other formats are acceptable.

So instead of using Form 1040 like I might normally do, I’m going to file my 2008 income taxes in free verse, with inspiration from America’s greatest poet, Walt Whitman.

O America!

Thy gleaming towers of commerce lie in rubble and ruin

Your once-proud people shamble through unending off-lays and sizings-down

They struggle to find work, both the learn’d and unlearn’d

The homefires they thought were theirs are possessed anew

Usury stalks the land where once there was a reasonable credit market

Lo, I watch the dark clouds of fate gather, yet hope I must

As it is in my American spirit!


Yes, you must levy a surcharge upon your citizenry

It is how we will pay for the stimulation and the bailing and the eventual recovery

That will someday soon return our land to its promontory on the mesa on the hill

Return its people to their hurrahs, so as to squelch the fury of rous’d mobs

(I’m looking at you, Fox News).


The security of thy corpus is bound up in a social net that numbers tens of myriads

My number is but one of these – 287-39-6312

This cipher is mine and mine alone, and I glory in its individuality

My love, my spouse, my lifemate, she too is joining me in this annual celebration

And her number too is of interest to thee – it is 365-08-4118

We file jointly, for we are married.


And, yea, we do want to pay the tripl’d dollar

To go toward the Presidential Election Campaign

Though we desire as well to register our strenuous protest and objection

To the ongoing war with Mexico.


You wish to know the assembled value of my wages, my salaries

You wish to know the value of even my tips, tho they pale in comparison

To the worth that was visited upon me by my father in heav’n

Forthwith I will divine these and show thee to a cent

The integer is sixty-seven thousand

Seven hundred and thirty-six dollars

Or so that is what I deign to report.


I have interest in life in all its aspects

In the brown ants and the little wells beneath them

And mossy scabs of the worm-fence, heap’d stones, elder mullein and poke-weed

I have interest in how you settled your head athwart my hips and gently turn’d me over

And parted the shirt from my bosom-bone, and plunged your tongue to my bare-stript heart

But I report no interest of the taxable kind

And no unemployment compensation and no Alaska Permanent Fund dividends.


No one shall claim me as dependent, for I am so fiercely independent

That sometimes it makes my head hurt, and my acquaintances annoy’d

At this point I shall claim a deduction of seventeen thousands and nine hundreds

For so it has been direct’d by statutes in the rule of levies

I shall subtract this from the previous line to arrive at my taxable income

Despite the horror of fratricidal war, the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events.


O America!

You have already withheld substantial fractions of my annual fortune

As I can see from the box numbered two on my Form W-2

I do not begrudge this contribution to thy welfare and that of my fellow citizens

For we all must labor together to build a nation of brothers, a nation of sisters

Tho I sure wish you didn’t spend so much on that folly of a program

To build a cow museum in the land of the Nebraskan.


I claim no earned income credit

I claim no nontaxable combat pay election

I claim no recovery rebate credit

For I have seen the worksheet on pages 17 and 18

I only claim to celebrate myself, and sing myself.


I will now add my total payments to calculate my tax

As it is express’d in the tax tables I must now consult

As once I consulted with the boatmen and the clam-diggers

The butcher-boy and the blacksmith and the runaway slave

(I think that butcher-boy had a thing for me, tho that shall be another sonnet)

And now, because line 10 is larger than line 11, I shall subtract line 11 from line 10

This is my refund, and I glory in its amount, even as I had hop’d for more.


I hereby direct that said sum shall be directly deposited

With all alacrity and without undue delay

To an account I designate as one of “checking”

And with a routing number that aspires to be the lofty 4732985

And yet in reality will never reach those hallowed heights.


You will hardly know who I am or what I mean

But I shall be good health to you nevertheless

I stop somewhere waiting for you

And so I affix my signature here

So you know that it is me.



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9 Responses to “O America! I file now my taxes”

  1. trishatruly Says:

    That was one hell of a poem!!

    You give me hope that the English language has not gone the way of the Dodo bird.
    I did not know of this provision in the tax law!! Your epic ode to the IRS is brilliant!!
    I shall now await your sonnet of the butcher boy with bated breath!

  2. alantru Says:

    Great poem!

    Three things you can write off.

    Beer. If you’re like me you can’t even haul your sorry ass into your depressing place of work until you’ve drained a 6 pack so I say it’s a job-related expense and an automatic deduction. Ditto the amphetamines.

    Number 2: Kids. Even if you don’t have them they seem to be everywhere – running on your lawn, knocking on your door to sell you crappy cookies, holding up the line to see Santa – so I claim five dozen. I figure if I have to interact with them, I’m playing a role in their parenting.

    Number 3: Clothes. If you walk around naked you go to jail. If the man says you have to wear clothes, I say the man has to pay for them.

  3. jtcrawford Says:

    The sweet sound of your words dance from the page unto my ears,
    Why it’s the cleverest thing we at the IRS have heard in years,
    Though I hate to be the bearer of bad news,
    We have disallowed deductions and refunds, we refuse.
    Do not worry, we are sure it’s just a simple mistake,
    It’s your money and not your soul we wish to take.
    Fair ye well, and sleep tonight…
    65,000 Pages of the IRS code delight,
    Soon our agents and will call upon your home,
    If you are unable to pay, call upon the President for a loan.
    It is with great sadness that I must now depart,
    But I have many mile to go, and many an audit to start.

  4. comicalone Says:

    Very original – must have taken some work.
    You can tell.

    I liked the social security numbers.
    “We file jointly, for we are married.”


  5. goddesspower978 Says:

    I love the part where you say “I celebrate and sing myself” that is so brilliant! Love, Goddess

  6. Skip Dekades Says:

    I think you should submit this to the Turbo Tax folks to use as a template.

  7. planetross Says:

    I’ve forgotten about filing tax forms. Work takes about 4 to 5% off my pay and I’m left in peace … and with about 95% of my pay.

  8. stinginthetail Says:

    lol – i look forward to your audit in the style of an elizabethan sonnet

  9. Stentorphone Says:

    An amazing poem.

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