Tax Day, rendering unto Caesar and world peace
For 29 of its 30 days, April is one of my favorite months. Not only is it the month when the drudgery of winter usually gives way to the song of spring, but it's also the month my oldest child and high school senior was born. There's nothing like brand new motherhood to warm your heart and give a renewed sense of appreciation to the miracle of spring taking hold and bursting forth with budding flowers and greening trees. The scent of a freshly bathed baby intermingled with the wafting wonder of daffodils in bloom is enough to almost, but not quite, make you forget that April is also Uncle Sam's favorite month.
To make matters really interesting, this year Tax Day is only a few days before Easter. In my humble opinion, there is something terribly oxymoronic about the most financially ominous day of the year for the American taxpayer taking place during the Christian Holy Week. It puts me in mind of the moneychangers in the temple being angrily confronted by Jesus, the same Jesus who teaches to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's."
When the 15th falls on Sunday we get a day's reprieve, so why not the same for Holy Week, but with a week's reprieve? (As altruistic as my idea may sound, the truth is, I've just barely begun dealing with this year's tax work and am planning on filing for an extension and, besides that, the point I'm attempting to make is moot since the noble issue of the separation of church and state is one of the ACLU's pet projects. Nevertheless, in my opinion, it's food for thought.)
Realizing this year's close proximity of Tax Day to Easter, I began wondering just why and how April 15 was chosen as the deadline for filing an income tax return anyway. According to my research, it's all about the 16th Amendment, which allows Congress to implement an income tax in the first place. Generally speaking, I'm not superstitious, but I do find it interesting that it was in 1913 that the U.S. Congress chose March 1 as Tax Day. For reasons sometimes described as inexplicable, the Revenue Act of 1918 pushed the date to March 15. Then in 1955, tax revisions allowed for the date to be changed to April 15. So, in a matter of 40 or so years, the deadline for filing a tax return was pushed from March 1 to April 15, an act that seems to be a mighty fine thing for the American government to have done for its citizens.
But, according to Fortune magazine, the truth of the matter is that because most taxpayers are middle class and many of us receive tax refunds, the date of April 15 gives the government longer to hold onto our money. On the other hand, by law our tax refunds must be mailed within 45 days or the IRS has to pay you interest. Not to be cynical, but that'll be the day. After all, Uncle Sam owns the postal service.
On a brighter note and most befitting of Holy Week, is the fact that April 15 will take on a very special meaning of international proportions as the first meeting on the future of Iraq is scheduled to take place in the town of Nasiriyah, Iraq. According to ArabicNews.com, attending this meeting will be a U.S. delegation led by special envoy to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, along with liberated Iraqis and representatives of the Future of Iraq Project.
April 15, 2003, was exactly seven days after my son celebrated his 18th birthday. As his mother, I'm diligently praying for wisdom for our world leaders and a responsible resolution to the situation in the Middle East.
What better way is there for each of our children to grow up and, just like you and me, having the privilege of dreading Tax Day?