Taxes

Tax Day 2004

Introducing the Iraqis to Western governance

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Dear Citizen,

Greetings from the provisional government! We'd like to thank you for all the patience you've shown in the rocky transition to democracy. In the year since Operation Iraqi Freedom began, we have made tremendous strides toward bringing your country at least as much self-government as is found in Turkey, Florida, and other places you may have seen on CNN, the BBC, or the new Fox-Jazeera. While we have yet to hold any actual elections, we're making real progress toward that day—just this month, for example, we enacted Iraq's first campaign finance reform.

Another important part of the transition, of course, is the introduction of a Western-style income tax. Democracy costs money, as do whiskey and sexy. (Indeed, the Whiskey-Sexy Program alone cost an astonishing $44 million last year—most of which, fortunately, has been covered by our friends at DynCorp.) If the new Iraq is ever to be self-sustaining, it must learn the responsibilities as well as the benefits of modern government. The U.S. cannot pay your way forever, especially given our troops' pressing needs in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, Colombia, Venezuela, and Alsace-Lorraine.

Furthermore, tax collection is proving a surprisingly effective means to rehabilitate former functionaries of the deposed Ba'ath regime. Imprisoned veterans of the Fedayeen, who previously showed little interest in building a freer, more prosperous Iraq, have jumped at the chance to work for the new Iraqi Revenue Service. Commissioner Qusay is particularly interested in introducing something he calls Sirat al-Jahim, which I'm informed translates roughly as the alternative minimum tax.

With that in mind, we're urging all of you to fill out your forms promptly, mailing them to IRS headquarters in Baghdad no later than midnight, April 15. For those of you whose hometowns still lack post offices, we suggest using a private delivery service.

If you have any questions about your taxes, do not hesitate to call us at 1-800-829-1040. Before hiking to the nearest working phone, however, you may wish to consult the following list of frequently asked questions:

Q: My religion forbids charging interest. How should I report such income?

A: If you have conscientious objection to reporting interest income because of your membership and belief in the teachings of a religious sect recognized as being in existence at all times since 622 AD, you are exempt from this requirement, provided you have received IRS approval by filing Form APR.

Q: I am a nomad, and have traditionally held wealth in the form of useful goods rather than money. Will you accept in-kind payments?

A: We have experimented with such a program in occupied Saudi Arabia, where nomadism is more common than in Iraq. Our official policy is to settle transient tribesmen, as they are difficult to monitor. During a two-year transition, however, self-employed Bedouin will be eligible for an alternative flat tax of one fourth of their livestock, attached in an orderly manner to Form WTF.

Q: What is an "audit"?

A: By now you will have heard many unfortunate rumors about the techniques used by the IRS's investigators. Some of the reports in the underground press have been especially inflammatory. We'd like to stress that, contrary to some published accounts, our auditors have not used torture without a proper warrant. Supreme Judge-Regent Dershowitz has been very sparing in issuing these permits, reserving them for deductions so suspicious that he considers them "ticking time-bombs."

Q: I've heard that your President Bush has had to reverse his stateside tax cuts to pay for the War on Terror. Will this affect my taxes as well?

A: Regrettably, it may. However, if you are a U.S.-based subcontractor working to rebuild Iraq, you may be eligible for an exemption. See Form KBR.

Q: How do I qualify for the Kurd Income Tax Credit?

A: Check your adjusted gross income against the tax tables in the back of your booklet. Now ask yourself, Am I Kurdish? If so, you qualify for the credit.