Income Taxes and Zombies
Good ole’ Ben Franklin said that there are only two things in life that are certain: death and taxes. I’ve often assumed that was a little too simplistic. Surely there are more things in life that we can’t avoid. What about long lines at Wal-Mart when you’re in a hurry?. Gas prices going down the day after you fill up your tank? Junk mail? Commercials before the Final Jeopardy question? Singing along to “Cat’s in the Cradle” when it comes on the radio? Bundling your kids up to play in the snow just in time for the announcement: “I’ve gotta pee”? And lately, snow on a weekend? But despite the exceptions I seemed to come up with, a recent experience increased my belief that maybe Mr. Franklin was not only right, but prophetic.
A couple of weeks ago, I was doing one of the things that tempts me most to procrastinate – completing my tax return. Pencils sharpened, receipts neatly stacked, prayers for patience humbly lifted up, I began with the 1040, and after carefully filling in blanks, checking boxes, skimming tables, and doing the math, I completed the Federal portion of my taxes. I now moved on to the next phase – state taxes. Blank one - name. Okay, good so far, that one I’ve got covered. I printed my name neatly, knowing that the IRS agent who would have the privilege of checking my forms would be duly impressed with my excellent penmanship. Social Security number. Easy one. I’ve had that memorized since I received my card in Mr. Etzler’s Civics class in seventh grade. Next came a box followed with these instructions: “Check if deceased”. I read it again. “Check if deceased”? Now, I do understand how important my taxes are to the running of this great country and state, but I assumed that the one thing that would free the American taxpayer from that responsibility would be his or her death. Guess not. Apparently Ben was right -death and taxes are certain, even sometimes occurring simultaneously.
So it would have seemed silly for me to have checked the “Deceased” box, wouldn’t it? After all, if I’m not alive, I couldn’t be filling out the forms, right? But the truth is, according to God’s Word, that is entirely possible. According to Scripture, it is even certain that I am breathing but not alive unless preparation is made otherwise. Apart from the Cross, we do not have life. Apart from the salvation Jesus Christ offers us through His death, we are dead in the sin that plagues us all. Apart from Jesus , we are the walking dead – zombies. Paul explained it when he said, “When you were dead in your sins …, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins” (Colossians 2:13).
Therefore, I did not check that box. I skipped over it because years ago I accepted God’s invitation to begin a relationship with Him. I found life in the forgiveness Jesus offers to all of us because He loves us so much. I went from zombie to saint. And even when I do take my last breath on this earth, that life with Him will continue. Forever.
So I’ll pay my taxes dutifully each year. I’ll fill out all the forms and fill in all the appropriate blanks. But the one box I will not check is on Ohio State Tax Form SD 100. And I will skip it with thanksgiving.
“For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Psalm 56:13