Transfixing Tax Tale

Tax Day 2018 has come and gone.  Whew! If you were able to navigate through the 107 pages of instructions for Form 1040, you are in need of a break.  While I can’t get the IRS to provide tax relief, I can provide you with some comic relief.

Taxes, of course, are no laughing matter.  They lighten your pocket and darken your mood.  Reading tax regulations is about as interesting as watching grass grow.  How in the world could taxes provide the basis for a transfixing tale?  Think outside the box–or in this case outside the tax code.  What’s entertaining is how people react to tax issues.

A familiar story is really a tax tale.  Heard of Lady Godiva?  She is famous because of how she protested taxes.  Lady Godiva was the Countess of Mercia, an English noblewoman.  Her hubby, Leofric, Earl of Mercia, was a pretty cold-hearted man.  He had imposed oppressive taxes on the commoners who were, as a result, not living a fairy tale existence.

Since opposites attract, Lady Godiva was soft-hearted and concerned for her subjects.  She implored her husband to reduce the excessive taxes he had put into place.  “Pretty, please, Leo?” she asked him on numerous occasions.  Leo grew tired of her nagging and devised what he thought was a clever strategy to end her bothersome requests.  “Sure, Diva,” he told her. “I’ll grant your request if you strip and ride naked through town.”  He was patting himself on the back certain that a true noblewoman such as his wife would never demean herself in this way.

Tough times, however, call for tough actions.  Lady Godiva rose to her husband’s challenge.  She not only had really long hair, but she had a good head on her shoulders.  Lady Godiva issued a proclamation that all the people in Coventry were to stay indoors and shut their windows.  Thus, she would be able to ride through town in her birthday suit without been seen. (Take that, Leo!)

A horse was summoned, and Lady Godiva shed her clothes before mounting.  She rode side-saddle because there was no reason not to ride like a lady even if she wasn’t dressed like one.  Her extremely long hair was arranged to cover herself and preserver her modesty..  Off through the streets of Coventry she proceeded.

Lady Godiva’s plan worked with one small exception.  The streets were deserted and the windows were shuttered.  But Thomas the Tailor (“Tom” for short) disobeyed the directive.  He felt he had paid enough in taxes that Leo had taken the shirt off his back; it was only fair, then, that he see Leo’s wife without hers on.  His prying eyes turned him into “Peeping Tom.”

Meanwhile, back at the castle, Leo was dumbfounded by his wife’s actions.  Apparently he had just taken her for an airhead blonde.  She had called his bluff, and he had no choice but to lower the taxes on his people.  Lady Godiva had found a tax loophole and ridden through it literally and figuratively.

Nothing is certain in life but death and taxes.  Accordingly, there is nothing certain about the truth of this transfixing tax tale.  We don’t really know if Lady Godiva rode bareback or bare everything through the streets of tax-oppressed Coventry.  We do know that Godiva chocolates were named after her.  If you are feeling down because the IRS has lightened your pockets, just indulge in some Godiva chocolates and think of Lady Godiva’s tax protest to make you smile.


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