Yesterday I received a note from the IRS, telling me I underpaid my 2006 tax return. The damage comes to less than 60 bucks. So of course I will pay it, because I have no desire to get audited or lose any hope of ever owning anything of value.

But here’s the thing: A 2006 return is for the 2005 calendar year. That’s 4 years ago now. I have no effing clue what I did that year. I mean, I do, but I couldn’t prove it. I might have receipts and documents somewhere, but I wouldn’t count on it. At least, I wouldn’t count on having everything I need. I probably have my W2’s, but anything else is probably tucked away in some envelope shoved at the bottom of a milk crate, next to old seven-inches.

So it occurs to me that this is actually a fradulent revenue-raising tactic for the federal government. You take people who make a certain amount of money. You pick a year that’s long ago enough to be hazy in people’s memories, but not so long ago that it’s ridiculous. Then, you pick an amount of money that they “owe” that won’t kill anyone.

Say you get eight digits of Americans to just write a check. That ain’t chump change.

What if you fight it? Then you get summoned to your local IRS office. They seat you in a dimly lit room with one long desk and two seats. They make you sit there for a while and sweat it out. Then some officious looking person enters, sits across from you, and slides a manila envelope your way. You open it up and discover 8-by-10 glossies of yourself doing something awful.

YOU: Where’d you get these?
IRS GUY: That’s not important. What is important is for you to pay that fine.
YOU: Yeah, but what I’m doing here…technically, it’s not illegal.
IRS GUY: No, but I’d bet you still don’t want those pictures posted all over the Internet.
YOU: *sigh* Fine, I’ll get my checkbook.

We’re through the looking glass here, people…