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“Income tax returns are the most imaginative fiction being written today.”

— Herman Wouk

Friends, there's the spring season where we all get happy for blossoms. There's the holiday season where we all get happy for gifts. There's the barbecue season where we all get happy for brisket. And, of course, there's the tax season which no one looks forward to.

"Tax” comes from the ancient Greek “tassein” which means to fix, and the Latin “taxare” which means to charge or appraise. So, by extension, taxes are a way for the government to fix something that isn't broken — paid for by appraising something that isn't theirs. Yet no matter how well you define it, it all comes down to those three little letters: IRS.

The IRS is basically America's hall monitor — and boy does it want your milk money. Every April we write down how much we've made for the year and then the IRS tells us how much we actually get to keep. For most of us taxes come out of our paychecks every week. Kind of like a middle school bully that works on an installment plan.

I understand that we all have to chip into the community till, and I'm fine with paying my fair share, but I wish we could expand the laws a little. For instance, why can't I claim Miss Maggie (the puppy) as a dependent? I mean, between the the spa days, the vet bills and the dance lessons she basically costs the same as a small child. In fact I'd go further to say she's more expensive because there's not a city in the states that offers public schooling for pets. (Though how cute would that be to see her riding one of those little yellow school buses wearing a tiny backpack?)

Also, why can't my bathroom be used as a deduction? That's where I do my best thinking, so shouldn't I be able to claim it as a business expense? As I said, I don't mind paying taxes, because without them there would be no one to police the streets or plow the snow — and I for one am not about to volunteer to do either of those things, so I'd say that's money well spent.

Taxes also keep the streetlights lit and the water flowing through the pipes, so you won't hear to much griping from me. The only part that really bugs me is the return. It feels too much like gambling. Every year I fill out the forms and then immediately cross my fingers as my tax accountant crunches the numbers. But every single year it comes out different. Some years I have to pay extra and some years I actually get a check (I call those the good years.)

But like all the years in the past, it's time to test my luck and maybe, just maybe I'll leave with more than I walked in with. But, like in any gamble, the house usually wins.

Auburn native Bradley Molloy's column appears here each Sunday. He can be reached at