Tax time is taken lying down
On this day in 1776 London, they’d never have dared!
Lord North: I fear for the king’s mind. He is unhinged. This merciless need for revenues!
Mr. Burke: I warned him the Stamp Act would only infuriate the Americans.
Lord Grenvill: I proposed a modest levy on tea, and what did the colonists doâ¢ Threw crates of the stuff into Boston harbor.
Lord North: The ruffians! And now where shall we turn?
Mr. Burke: Softly, here comes His Majesty now.
George III: Good morning, gentlemen. I have a capital idea. It came to me in a dream. We shall apply a tax never before tried on the Americans — a tax on incomes!
Lords North and Grenvill (aghast): Your Highness!
Mr. Burke: But this is revolutionary, Sire, if you’ll pardon the expression.
George III: I can tell that you are intrigued. And why notâ¢ An income tax would be the last word in fair and equitable. The rich would pay more; the poor, less. And every year, at planting time. Indeed it might be deducted from their starvation wages.
Lord North (pale, stammering): But … but Your Majesty. How could the Royal Tax Collector …?
George III: We shall quash that office, by the way. And call it simply the Internal Revenue Service. The people will be less on guard, more disposed to obey.
Lord North: Nevertheless, Sire, how can this … this IRS of yours find out how much income the individual American receives?
George III: No problem. Banks, employers, pension funds and other disbursers will report it, as will the taxpayers as a patriotic duty, assembling all records, receipts, canceled cheques, etc., etc.
Mr. Burke: With all due respect, Sire, does it not seem a trifle, uh, burdensomeâ¢
George III (laughing): The more so the better. It will give employment and a vested interest to accountants, lawyers, lobbyists, tax preparers. Generations unborn will hail the creation of jobs.
Lord North: If, however, taking a narrow view, the colonists should still resist?
George III: Crush them! Interest, penalty, prosecution, imprisonment, all the old reliables. And now, gentlemen, let Parliament draw up the Act and prepare it for my signature. (Exits.)
Lord North: Ah, it was a quiet winter and now the winds of March. This news will reach America by fast sail in April. And then what?
Mr. Burke: Tempests undreamed of, I fear. The Yankees will blame the monarchy. They would never accept such intrusion on liberty and privacy if enacted by their own elected lawmakers.
Lord Grenvill: Good heavens, Burke, do you foresee … ?
Mr. Burke: Independence! Democracy! By early summer, I’d judge. Say July. The fourth, perhaps. For it is a certainty, gentlemen. No people of spirit would take an income tax lying down!