Tax Break: Sip an Income Tax Cocktail to Help the Bureaucracy Go Down Easy
In Buy You a Drink, GOOD’s resident cocktail expert pairs the responsible enjoyment of alcoholic beverages with the pressing issues of the day. This week: Cocktails for the taxpayers, no matter how long they waited to file.
So you waited until the last minute. Big fucking deal. You’re still paying your taxes, and that’s all that matters. Contributing your fair share to the public coffers is an important part of being an adult member of a civilized society. Your taxes build roads and bridges, fund preschool and afterschool programs, and keep the Supreme Court decked out in fancy robes. More importantly, paying your taxes keeps you from being mentioned in the same sentence as tax protesters, tax dodgers, and every other species of asshole.
Consider Wesley Snipes, currently the most famous resident of Bradford, Pennsylvania. I’m sure the man has nothing but time to lift weights and practice his capoeira right now, so I’d rather not say it to his face, but he is an asshole. Instead of filling out the simple 1040 that you’re completing as we speak, Mr. Snipes opted to write the IRS a letter declaring himself a “nonresident alien” of the United States, refuting his Social Security number (however one does such a thing), and warning that prosecuting him would bring harm to federal employees. The IRS deceives people, he wrote, in order to “terrorize, enslave, rape or pillage” America. For being wrong about absolutely every aspect of everything, Mr. Snipes was sentenced to three years in federal prison.
It could have been worse. Snipes fell in with prominent tax protester Eddie Ray Kahn, head of asshole umbrella group American Rights Litigators. He could have gotten involved with the “Montana Freemen” instead. Between 1998 and 2001, Rodger Yates, Joan Anderson, and their fellow Freemen wrote more than $490 million in bogus “sight drafts,” worthless pieces of paper that they claimed cast a magic spell over the U.S. government, forcing it to pay itself out of the U.S. Treasury rather than charging citizens income tax. The 10 defendants also believed they could “bring the IRS down” if they simply refused to obey the court system, and recited their protective “shield” or “mantra,” a catchy little ditty that went like this: “What is your name? Do you have a claim against me? Do you know of any others that have a claim against me? I request the order of the Court be released to me immediately.”
In the grand tradition of magic spells IRL, it didn’t work. A district court in Michigan convicted the Freemen of conspiring to defraud the United States government, and sentenced all 10 assholes to prison terms ranging from 27 months to 10 years.
Unfortunately, being responsible is way less fun than being an asshole. Even though filling out that 1040 is an excellent way to avoid federal prison, it can be a real drag, what with all the remembering of distant expenses and attempting to grasp the concept of “amortization” as it applies to home office supplies, furniture, or household pets. (Little-known made-up fact: improper gerbil amortization accounts for 36 percent of taxpayer audits every year).
That’s where the booze comes in.
The Call: 1040 Proof
I haven’t checked, but I’m pretty sure it is not a felony to do your taxes while tipsy (though I do recommend checking them over once sober). For at least 60 years, sensible Americans have tied their tabulations to the math-enhancing powers of a Bronx Cocktail with bitters, aka the Income Tax. (Buy You a Drink pet superstitions include: Gin makes us smarter; tequila makes us angry; whiskey just makes us happy).
Income Tax Cocktail
1 ½ oz. gin (something soft—Hendricks is good)
¾ oz. dry vermouth (I used Noilly Prat)
¾ oz. sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica—I’ve heard calls for Punt e Mes, but fear the herbiness would dominate the cocktail with that one)
Juice of ½ a medium-sized orange (The Alchemist recommends “Seville oranges whenever possible." I can’t argue with that)
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake in an iced cocktail shaker, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange wheel.
The Income Tax Cocktail pairs well with arithmetic, patriotism, and ironically, movies in the Blade trilogy. Like its sibling the Bronx, the ITC is utterly demolished by store-bought orange juice, so take the time to squeeze your own citrus. While you’re squeezing, you may want to adjust your palate’s expectations. Despite the Alchemist’s description of the Bronx as "an acceptable precursor to lunch," tell your mouth to prepare for a Martini with a splash of orange juice, not a mimosa or a screwdriver. (After all, gin + dry vermouth = Martini + sweet vermouth = Perfect Martini + orange juice = Bronx + bitters = ITC). The spirits still dominate this cocktail, so if you’re expecting a boozy OJ for breakfast, you’re as doomed as if you’d recited the Montana Freemen Mantra before a federal judge.
Mixed well and approached with the proper mindset, the Income Tax Cocktail is equal parts boozy, sweet, tart, and leafy, with just a hint of bitterness—a perfect reminder that most things in life can be improved with the addition of a little chilled gin. With an Income Tax Cocktail in hand, and your tax forms safely out the door, you can feel free to bask in your accomplishment: You’ve contributed your share to improving America’s bottom line, and avoided joining the ranks of assholes for one more year. In honor of that remarkable feat, let’s all recite the mantra one more time: “What is your name? Do you have a claim against me? Do you know of any others that have a claim against me? I request that an Income Tax Cocktail be released to me immediately.” And maybe a round of shots, as long as I can amortize them.
Send your preferred epithet for tax protesters, or your favorite drink for improving your math skills, to firstname.lastname@example.org.