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The Divine Grace of the IRS

Apr 11 2014
Seriously. God’s help comes from the weirdest places.

When the National Labor Relations Board recently ruled that scholarship-receiving Northwestern University football players were deemed university employees and thus should be able to unionize, I had the strangest reaction, strange at least for a libertarian-leaner who believes everyone should pay less tax.

"If they're employees," I thought, "I hope the IRS sees those hefty scholarship as taxable income."

Even more peculiar: my reaction to preparing our tax folder with all our W-2s, 1099s and receipts. As I sorted and sifted through the papers, I smiled, pleased at the thought of filing our return to the IRS.

Though it's easy enough to explain away my reaction to the football players (it's a justice issue and—I confess—an annoyance, come-uppance issue with spoiled or naïve kids and with opportunistic Big Labor), the smiling at the thought of the IRS is nothing short of evidence of the mighty work of God in my life.

Not that long ago, my husband and I—both self-employed—wrote out checks to the U.S. Treasury on a quarterly basis, and I'd scowl as I filled in the dollar amounts and signed my name, silently cursing this body of government that grabbed so much of our money. In the memo section, right next to the Tax Year, I'd write: "Use wisely."

I'd imagine the eggshell-drab, low-walled cubicles that surely lined the IRS offices. I'd picture the blank faces, inputting numbers, watching the clock. I'd see our hard-earned dollars sucked up by various pork projects, as mere pennies rolled into any worthwhile programs. And I'd shake my head in disgust.

I was rendering unto Caesar like a good American and a good Christian, but I resented every moment of it. Right up till the moment when I went to write a check for our taxes and—gulp—realized I couldn't cover it.

My husband's business had dried up and shriveled. We both looked for work or more work to cover our ever-mounting bills and deep medical debt. Over time, we eventually depleted our retirement accounts, all built on pre-tax money. With every bit we drew out, our tax bill grew. During that time, the work we had prayed for and had assumed would roll our way in plenty of time to pay our taxes never did. We were broke.

When that tax bill arrived, and I sat staring at my checkbook, breathing heavy with worry, my image of the IRS changed. No longer did I see blank faces in drab confines. Now they were angry, jeering ones in courtrooms and jailhouses. I saw pointed fingers and heard tsk-tsking tongues. I saw myself led off to Alcatraz like Al Capone, wondered if I could hold some sort of IRS Tax Bill Event like Willie Nelson.

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