Confehr: Tax day, jury duty and other things to do

Friday, April 15, 2011

Despite the misery of our cartoon character -- a version of cartoonist Al Capp's jinx, Joe Btfsplk -- Tennesseans may take comfort when filing income tax returns that our governor has twice told me that he wants to end our state's income tax.

Oh, you thought Tennessee didn't have an income tax. It does. It's on stock dividends and income from interest on bank accounts, certificates of deposit and bonds. Not too many pay the tax. Gov. Bill Haslam doesn't want to end it this year because Tennessee needs money. And, I thought if taxes were lower the economy would recover.

Meanwhile, let's stop to remember Tupper Saussy, late of Nashville, previously of Cowan. In between, he was on the lam and then in prison for not filing a tax return. Saussy, 1936-2007, believed an old court decision meant he couldn't pay income taxes unless the government defined legal money. Federal Reserve notes are unconstitutional, he said.

Saussy was an ad-man, writer, painter, musician, composer and he collaborated with notables including Chet Atkins and Ray Stevens. He died four years ago in late March. I knew him from federal court at Winchester. His appeal failed. Tupper concluded prison wasn't good for his health. A federal judge ordered him to report to a federal prison. He did. He stood in front of a video camera with the prison behind him, said he'd gone to the building but found a sign saying it was federal property and people should go away. He did, and sent recordings to news media.

He was a fugitive for a decade and eventually served 14 months.

There are other things we face as U.S. citizens. One is jury duty.

Not too long ago, residents in this district were called for jury duty. The judge looked across the jury pool and asked: "Do any of you have a good reason why you shouldn't be here?"

A man raised his hand. "Stand and explain," the judge said.

"My wife is about to have a baby and I'd really like to be there when it happens," the man said.

The father-to-be was excused. Another man raised his hand.

"My wife is about to get pregnant and I'd really like to be there," the other man said.

"Be seated," replied the judge.

The story's true. Names and county were omitted to protect participants.

Now, Sen. Lamar Alexander says, "When 40 cents of every dollar we spend is borrowed, it's long past the time that we stop spending money we don't have and live within our means."

He supports the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution to have the president submit and Congress pass a balanced budget each year, among other things.

Makes sense until there's a war.

It's as simple as a household living within its means, until baby wants to go to college.

Next week's question of the week might be: Did you claim a dependent on your income tax return?

We ought to be able to deduct lost wages for jury duty.

These views are the author's and not necessarily reflective of the Tribune's views.