Prior to the 1970s, before the passage of the RICO laws that enabled federal prosecutors to crack down on organized crime, the Mafia flourished. Although the history of the Mafia and its most prominent members is not only well documented, but also thoroughly canonized in popular culture and imagination, there’s one figure that stands out above the rest. Al “Scarface” Capone.
Part of the Mafia’s (and by extension Capone’s) success stemmed from an inability on the part of government agents to nail higher ups with crimes that had been committed by those lower in the organization. If a grunt in the family carried out an execution on Capone’s orders, Capone couldn’t be charged with any crime. Even though Al Capone was publically known as a criminal, it was almost impossible to convict him of anything. That was until one clever prosecutor thought of a solution. Charge him with tax evasion.
In Capone’s case, the federal government argued that all income, regardless of the legality of its source, is subject to federal taxes. Because Capone hadn’t laundered his money properly and had neglected to pay taxes on the massive amounts of illegal gambling and bootlegging money he had raked in, he was sent away for the most white collar crime of all. He didn’t pay his taxes, and they locked him up.
But that was the 1930s, a time when paying your taxes still something everybody had to do instead of just the middle class. It was also a time when alcohol was illegal, and drug use and users connoted the same type of fear and stigma in the common consciousness that are today held only by DARE officers and the extreme elderly. Things are different now. The people that get fucked over by the IRS aren’t murderous criminals, but instead, chumps that made the mistake of going to college. They’re small business owners and creative freelancers. They’re people like me.
I make all my money freelancing. And then the government takes all my money because I forget to save my receipts. And then I have to make up a bunch of shit that I consider business expenses so I can get my money back. I know I’m lying, the IRS knows I’m lying, but we have to lie to each other because that’s how taxes work. It’s called being a patriot.
But what I don’t understand is this: if the government can collect on illegal income, why can’t I write off illegal spending? Why the fuck can I go to jail for not paying taxes on cocaine sales, but I can’t include the price of an eight ball on my Schedule A?
The cocaine is more of a business expense than half the shit I put on there anyway. You think that trip to the Hard Rock Café was actually a “writer’s meeting?” Fuck no it wasn’t. I was stuck in Midtown and I wanted a cheeseburger and I panicked because I as overwhelmed with options. I ran in there and ordered a shitty cheeseburger and I hated myself so much for not only eating shitty food but eating shitty expensive food at a shitty restaurant for tourist assholes that I decided the government should pay for it instead of myself. That’s a business expense. But somehow cocaine isn’t?
Somehow the drug that keeps me up all night, afraid of my friends and family, desperately attempting to tie every comment and event in the media to some kind of systemic oppression (and also taking breaks to talk to old friends on the phone about how good the Sopranos is) – that’s not a business expense? Hell, the cocaine does more work than I do. It’s beyond an expense, it’s a fucking employee. Tax the cocaine, not me. Make the cocaine pay the taxes, I’m just a patsy, here.
Look, I have a son. And I tell him all the time; I tell him: you wanna know why Reagan didn’t die when Hinckley tried to kill him? Because the whole thing was a setup. It was a fraud. Now, my son can’t understand this because he’s twelve and an imbecile, but it’s important that he has the information, regardless of whether or not he can do anything with it. The republicans wanted Reagan to be their JFK. They wanted to make a monument of the man but also prove his invincibility. Oswald wasn’t a patsy. Hinckley was. Where the fuck are my Marlboro lights?
You know they put fiberglass in the filters? They do it to create micro tears in your gums. Gets the nicotine in there quicker. That’s what I heard at the bus stop, at least. Could be true, I’m not sure. The cigarette companies already do so much to kill you, why would they stop with just the cancer? Then again, the gum thing would kind of be superfluous. They’re not evil, they’re just businessmen.
I’m not paying my taxes this year. I’m getting a god damn gun and they can come get it if they want. The founding fathers wouldn’t pay taxes. Paul Revere wouldn’t pay taxes. Sam Adams wouldn’t pay taxes. St. Pauli’s Girl wouldn’t pay taxes, I’m not paying fucking taxes. We fought a god damn war over this. This country used to have slaves, man! And you expect me to pay taxes? Where the fuck are my Marlboro lights?