Death and taxes – which one is worse?

Published 2:01 pm Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Here’s the good news (if you can call the tax filing season good news)….the IRS has a brand spanking new 1040 form for all us over-burdened taxpayers to use to file our 2018 taxes.

Now the two-fold bad news….while the new form is only two pages and decreases the number of lines we need to use from 79 to a mere 23, don’t jump for joy just yet.

Bad news #1 – the “new and improved” 1040 comes complete with six additional forms we may need to fill out in certain situations, such as if we are to receive a refund on our state income taxes, or if we need to declare we made a few bucks on capital gains, or if we received unemployment compensation.

If that’s not enough, then here’s bad news #2. This dazzling new form (again, only two pages in length – minus, of course, the additional forms) comes with a 160-page instructional booklet.

So, I guess we need 160 pages of instructions to fill out 23 lines? If my math is correct, that’s averages out to nearly seven pages of instructions per line.

But I shouldn’t complain – not just yet, anyway, because April 15 is still a shade over two and one-half months away – because there is another sweet caveat to the new form.

For those who do not itemized their deductions, they can benefit from an increased standard deduction for their 2018 taxes. For married couples filing a joint return, the new standard deduction is $24,000 (up from $12,700 in 2017). And if you and your spouse were born prior to Jan. 2, 1954, you can claim an extra $2,600 standard deduction (combined if filing a joint return).

If you are single or use married filing separate status, the new standard deduction is $12,000 (up from $6,350 for 2017). For those who are a head of household, that standard deduction is now $18,000 (up from $9.350).

The new form replaces two old standards – the traditional 1040-A and 1040 EZ.

What it doesn’t replace are the age-old jokes about tax season. I ran across the following funny one-liners while visiting the web site of Pon and Associates, a CPA firm in Kentucky. Keep them in mind while you’re burning the midnight oil on April 14.

“I want to find out who this FICA guy is and how come he’s taking so much of my money.” – From a professional hockey player

“The government deficit is the difference between the amount of money the government spends and the amount it has the nerve to collect.” – Sam Ewing

“I love America, but I can’t spend the whole year here. I can’t afford the taxes.” – Mick Jagger

“And now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the Lord my soul to take, if the tax-collector hasn’t got it before I wake.” – Ogden Nash

“There’s nothing wrong with the younger generation that becoming taxpayers won’t cure.” – Dan Bennett

“On my income tax [Form] 1040 it says “Check this box if you are blind.” I wanted to put a check mark about three inches away.” – Tom Lehrer

“Worried about an IRS audit? Avoid what’s called a red flag. That’s something the IRS always looks for. For example, say you have some money left in your bank account after paying taxes. That’s a red flag.” – Jay Leno

“Tax day is the day that ordinary Americans send their money to Washington, D.C., and wealthy Americans send their money to the Cayman Islands.” – Jimmy Kimmel

“It’s income tax time again, Americans: time to gather up those receipts, get out those tax forms, sharpen up that pencil, and stab yourself in the aorta.” – D. Barry

In closing, we all need to remember that life holds only two certainties – death and taxes. The good news in that is you can only get an extension on the latter.


Cal Bryant is the Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact him at or 252-332-7207.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

email author More by Cal