John McCroskey Commentary: There’s a Whole Lot of Stupid to Choose From These Days

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Sometimes you read something that sounds so silly, you’re certain it’s a hoax. 

In this case, I received an email from someone I trust, but even then, in the back of my mind I just couldn’t quite believe it. 

Then, however, I saw the headline on a FOX News affiliate: “IRS says income from stolen goods and illegal activities must be reported on taxes.”

Seriously?

Under IRS Publication 17, it reads “income from illegal activities, such as money from dealing illegal drugs” must be reported. The story went on to say what you steal must be reported at fair market value unless you give it back in the same year.

Bribes, kickbacks and other illegal income must be reported too — or else. I’m sure those smash and grabbers, car thieves, drug dealers and the like will certainly comply. 

After all, it’s the IRS.

In New York, the Erie County Sheriff’s Office took it a step further, writing on its social media page, “Attention all car thieves, the stuff you stole from people’s vehicles in 2021 must be claimed on your income taxes. If you need an itemized list of property, please call us and a deputy or detective will be happy to meet with the list. It would be our pleasure.”

The story closed with the note saying the IRS didn’t respond to their request. 

Gee, how’d you like to be the poor employee to answer for what has got to be one of the stupidest things I’ve seen in a long time?  

And there’s a lot of stupid to choose from these days.

Who at the IRS in their right mind would think the thieves who commit crimes even file a return?  But even if they did, can you imagine sitting down with H&R Block and listing property you took during the smash and grabs or drug deals?

There must have been a time when we elected sharp people to the other Washington and hired competent people in the federal government, but those days, if they existed, don’t anymore.

Meanwhile, our bloated IRS wants to hire a bunch more of the same to spy on our private bank accounts. Not with a warrant for cause, but just because they want to. 

The more I think about this though, it is starting to make sense. After all, collecting from crooks and drug dealers is hard, and maybe even dangerous. 

So now, after more thought on how stupid this all is, I think I understand it. But it’s still stupid.

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And speaking of federal agencies, like several others I know, we didn’t get mail for almost a week. Being the end of the month, expecting bills needing to be paid, it was getting annoying because the roads were no longer an issue. And I’m certain my creditors wouldn’t care why they didn’t get paid. They just want to be paid.

So I did what I thought I should and called the post office at 1-800-I DON’T CARE. That’s not really the number, but that’s the way I felt. I never actually got a live person, just prompts on COVID, privacy and jibber jabber that wasn’t any help at all.

So I emailed them with my issue and despite receiving an automated response with a case number, and a promise to contact me in a couple days, they never did. However, I did receive a request asking me to tell them how they did — and I did. 

As I cogitated on this matter, I recalled the post office creed: “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.”  Sounds good, and the post office acknowledges it as an “informal motto,” but I guess they forgot to tell some of the mail carriers.

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John McCroskey was Lewis County sheriff from 1995 to 2005. He lives outside Chehalis and can be contacted at musingsonthemiddlefork@gmail.com.