I dropped off my tax papers at the accountant last night, which got me thinking
Remember the story “Superman Owes a Billion Dollars!” in Superman 148 (Oct 1961)? (Not to be confused with “Supermans Billion-Dollar Debt!”from 1957s Superman 114.) In it, Rupert Brand, an IRS auditor with too much time on his hands, decides that Superman owes the aforementioned amount.
Theres so much wrong with this, I dont know where to begin:
How is Brand empowered to do make this decision unilaterally?
Brand gives Superman 24 hours to pay his debt. Even loan sharks give you more time than that! And what, no payment plan?
Doesnt Brand know that Superman has a secret identity? How does he know that Supermans alter ego didnt pay the appropriate taxes? Or did Brand also go around harassing Pee Wee Herman, Dame Edna and Bozo, regardless of whether Paul Rubens, Barry Humphries and Larry Harmon filed taxes?
How can Brand calculate Supermans debt? Its not as if there was any investigation! Even if Brand could accurately calculate the value of coal squeezed into diamonds, sunken treasures recovered, and the like, how does he know what Supermans expenses and deductions might be? (I can answer this one: He doesn’t care!)
Brand is ultimately put in his place by his supervisor, who says:
Superman has for years supported billions of needy people with clothing, housing, food and protective service! Indeed, the whole world is dependent on him! According to law, every tax-payer is allowed to deduct $600 for each dependent! Well, Superman has over two billion dependents!
The solution is as shaky as the problem. At best, I would think that Superman might qualify to register as a 501(c)(3) non-profit. Has the supervisor ever actually read the IRS definition of a dependent? (And if he’s right, shouldnt Superman have one heck of a refund coming?*)
Finally, cant you see all the police and firemen using this precedent to deduct everyone they protected or saved during the year?
I wonder if the writer or editor of this story ever filed taxes. Thats not an accusation, they just seem to be REALLY unfamiliar with the process!
*No, Superman does NOT have a refund coming. First off, he didn’t file. Second, this is one of those “Subtract line two from line one, if line two is bigger, enter zero” situations. At best, Clark breaks even.