Monday, April 16, 2012


"Miss Wilcox, why won't people file their income tax returns early?" bemoans Mr. Danvers, the distraught tax preparer played by Mike Nichols in this early television P.S.A. on behalf of the National and State Organizations for Certified Public Accountants. Miss Wilcox is, of course, the incomparable Elaine May-- her empathetic outrage on behalf of her boss is sweetly, sublimely inappropriate, sells the message with the duo's typical dry crackle and makes for a hilarious spot, the likes of which I wish TV were still capable of making in this age of graphic overload and overstatement. (It all reminds me of another professional overreaction yet to come, Eric Idle's agonized restaurant manager who stabs himself over the embarrassment of a dirty fork served to a puzzled and not-at-all-furious pair of diners.)

Of course the answer to the question, at least for me, is that to forestall filing is to forestall the pain of either having a modest federal refund being subsumed by a ridiculous payment due the state, or even worse getting no refund at all. Ironically, I waited till just last Thursday to file this year, a year when I actually did get a refund, so I might have had that modest windfall at my disposal (and I do mean disposal) even earlier if I'd just followed Mr. Danver's advice. But no matter what your return, at least there is this keen 60 seconds of laughter in the face of the grim tide of tax season to remind us that there are days beyond April 15th (or 17th, as the case may be) and that smiling through adversity, though perhaps not a cure, is still a pretty good and reliable way to go.

Many thanks to O.G. pal Larry Aydlette for knowing I'd appreciate this and need this and for passing it along!


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