Aired May 18, 2013 on Dave’s Gone By. Youtube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmZ2gCJc0ro
Shalom Dammit! This is Rabbi Sol Solomon with a Rabbinical Reflection for the week of May 19th, 2013.
Okay, everybody reading or hearing this: raise your hands if you like Adolf Hitler. Okay, now, raise your hands if you like leukemia. Fine, Fine. Now, raise your hands if you like the Internal Revenue Service.
I am guessing that not one hand went up for all three of those plagues upon the universe. Hitler’s dead, and leukemia comes from God, but the IRS . . . That is a man-made horror that, like so many government programs, began as a good little fish, then ballooned into a whale, and eventually morphed into a poison octopus.
Nobody likes paying taxes, but intelligent people who don’t throw tea over the sides of boats realize that roads, bridges, schools, police, parks, community groups and concert halls are made possible, in part, by the chunk of money Uncle Sam takes out of our paychecks. Now, old Uncle Shmuel may take a lot more than he needs, and spend a ton more than he should, but most of us understand the need for a reasonable taxation with representation.
What we don’t want is to be hounded, or audited, or visited by white men in black suits with affidavits in one hand and padlocks I n the other. What we also don’t want is for the IRS to play favorites. When a billionaire fills his return with enough loopholes to fit a dozen city buses, this is bothersome. When the working poor break their backs for companies that break the bank – and then get tax breaks, something’s broken. And when charities and non-profits and religious institutions come pleading for special cuts, they damn well better make the cut.
So for the past couple of years, the IRS has been targeting certain organizations that asked for tax breaks but may not have been exemplary examples for exemption. Unfortunately, the groups Uncle Shmuel went after tended to be right-wing, conservative, tea-party lobbyists. When names would crop up like “Patriot” or “Constitution” or “Basement Stockpiled with Canned Meat,” the IRS would look extra hard at their requests and returns.
This, of course, is not right. In a country where all men are created equal – and some of the women, too, if they wear jeans – all tax-paying citizens should be treated equal . . . ly. I don’t know about you, but I want the flag-waving, gun-carrying, Sarah Palin Fan Club scrutinized extra-carefully. However, it’s only fair that the solar-paneled, vegan, hemp smoking, Arianna Huffington Fan Club be vetted with the same vigilance.
Almost every western religion follows a variation on the same creed: Do Unto Others. In America, we pay dues unto others, and we should expect the government to give us our due, even when we’re dunned. Just the way a black guy shouldn’t have to be more, or less, worried about the cop car driving behind him than a white guy, and just the way a young male Muslim getting on an airplane shouldn’t have to endure anything more involved than a screening, a wanding, a pat-down, a dog sniff, a full cavity search and three dunks on a waterboard, so it is that a 501c4 group trying to put prayer in schools should get the same treatment as a group trying to keep guns out of schools.
Having said all this, I do have to make a full-disclosure and say that my synagogue, Temple Sons of Bitches, does not pay taxes. Not only are we a religious institution, but we’re so poor, we start the Sabbath on Thursday afternoon just as an excuse to shut the lights off. We’re so poor, we had to sell our Torah and use a kindle. We’re so poor, on Purim we dress up as tramps and the homeless; the rest of the year, we dress worse.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating but shhhhh! Don’t tell the IRS. And I won’t tell them about your questionable deductions and second set of books. See? That’s how this country should work: everyone gets away with the same percentage of fraud. God bless America, and God help the IRS.
This has been a Rabbinical Reflection from Rabbi Sol Solomon, Temple Sons of Bitches in Great Neck, NY.
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