Tax Problems

What ‘Seinfeld’ taught us about taxes and the IRS


This month marked 25 years since “Seinfeld” debuted on television. And while it is often described as a “show about nothing,” but in reality it was about all of the ordinary things New Yorkers go through in life, including paying taxes.

Recently, a Forbes article highlighted the fact that taxes and the IRS were discussed in at least 10 episodes. One episode talked about gift taxes, another discussed classifying workers as independent contractors and there was even an episode that highlighted the importance of mailing dates.

In the episode “The Package,” Jerry and Kramer discuss “write-offs” — a tax phenomenon that most Americans don’t quite understand. In the episode, Kramer advises Jerry that he should tell a company that an item he purchased was broken during shipping.

Kramer says that item, a stereo, would just be a “write off” to the company so they wouldn’t actually be losing anything out of the deal. Jerry then questions Kramer on whether he even knows what a write-off is. Jerry admits that he has no idea what a write-off is either.

Kramer isn’t the only one who thinks that writing something off means that it doesn’t actually count. However, as the Forbes article stated, a write-off does count for something, and it depends on what your tax bracket is.

Then, in the episode “The Truth,” Jerry is making a joke when he compares the IRS to the mafia, saying that the IRS can “take anything they want.” However, Jerry wasn’t too far off in his reasoning. The IRS is extremely powerful and is not an entity anyone wants to take on by him or herself.

Ultimately, there were many times during which “Seinfeld” portrayed tax issues for exactly what they are, confusing and intimidating. For that reason, it’s extremely important to have an experienced lawyer on your side when dealing with the IRS. Just make sure it’s not “Seinfeld” parody Jackie Chiles.

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