Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cliche corner: Your cheating IRS

That rule of thumb again: When you can put your thumb over a large portion of the lede with no impact on the alleged news that follows, you should consider killing the lede. So it is with

Seeming to disprove the adage that crime never pays, even behind bars, prisoners received $39.1 million in undeserved federal tax refunds during 2009 through false or fraudulent tax returns, according to an Internal Revenue Service report to Congress.

As adages go, that's a rather dumb one. For general career-planning purposes, crime pays fairly well if you don't get caught and less well (often spectacularly so) if you do. "Behind bars" wasn't part of the cliche to begin with, and even so -- if the scamming has been so closely identified, you're justified in asking whether it has paid at all.


WWMS (what would Mencken* say?): "As a Christian I forgive the man who wrote the story and the news editor who passed it. But both will suffer in hell."

The hed's also a nice example of the sort of ambiguity you can create by following the standard rules of hed dialect. My first-glance, coffee-deprived reading was "(the) cheating IRS," rather than "cheating (the) IRS."

* From a letter to H. Allen Smith (of "Rhubarb" fame), then writing features for United Press. The topic was the Charles Fort phenomenon, and Mencken, as usual, is worth quoting in context:

Your story describing the funeral of Charles Fort lists me as one of his customers. This was a libel of a virulence sufficient to shock humanity. As a matter of fact, I looked upon Fort as a quack of the most obvious sort and often said so in print.
As a Christian I forgive the man who wrote the story and the news editor who passed it. But both will suffer in hell.

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1 Comments:

Anonymous Joe Mastriano said...

The Killer IRS CPA finds this matter very interesting and wonders the effect on the listeners. Take the time to look at our website at http://www.taxproblem.org

5:06 PM, February 16, 2011  

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