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Snow White Meets the IRS and Other Fractured Fairy Tales

Fairy tale imageIf you have ever watched the television show Once Upon a Time (one of my favorites) you know that it offers some compelling twists on popular children’s stories. Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie was probably rolling in his grave when his main character, a lighthearted kid who just doesn’t want to grow up, emerged as an evil teenager, but at least a relatively happy ending followed. 

Watching the show and working for the world’s largest association of CPAs got me thinking:  what would our beloved fairy tales be like if a CPA were to write them and perhaps play a role?  Here is my best tongue-in-cheek guess. Let us know if you have others you’d like to share.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Snow White, a supervisor of seven very loyal laborers, has repeatedly asked her boss to make her crew full-time employees. Snow was convinced they didn’t meet the IRS test to be contractors; for one, she definitely provided direction over their work (let’s just say Sleepy and Dopey got their names for a reason). Moreover, Sneezy would really benefit from the company wellness program and she felt bad Dopey lost out on many deductions (forest meals were pricey since “pick your own” became illegal); he couldn’t remember where he put receipts to save his life.

The company’s president, jealous of Snow’s superior management abilities and finally cluing in to the potential danger of misclassification, offers her part ownership in an attempt to make Snow liable for any penalties. However, savvy supervisor that she was, Snow documented her earlier requests and hired a CPA to help her sort it out, which he did. The company was able to enter the IRS’ voluntary settlement program and Snow White married her charming CPA. Sleepy even managed to stay awake for most of the ceremony.

Cinderella:  The evil stepmom was desperate to find a rich husband for at least one of her daughters as she needed the dowry to pay the estate taxes. She would have been in better condition had she not fired one CPA financial planner after another.  One daughter complained the last one was “too pretty and smart” and all that talk about estate tax and spending according to a budget (whatever that is), was “depressing.” The previous planner had politely declined to date either of her daughters and narrowly escaped being dragged to the dungeon.  Her luck worsened when Cindy, the beautiful stepchild locked in the attic when she wasn’t doing chores, found a more current version of her father’s will, one that provided Cindy with a fabulous oceanfront condo in Miami exempt from the estate tax. Posthumous revenge or coincidence? You be the judge!

Rumpelstiltskin: Does anyone think the famous weaver reported all the gold he spun? Or even a fraction of it? Not so much. But the IRS eventually caught up with him. No one bought his claim that his straw-into-gold activity was a simple magic trick to entertain children instead of an income-producing activity. “Who produces $30 million of gold every year for a magic trick?” his incredulous tax attorney asked. “I do!” the impish man replied.

“Well, not anymore you don’t,” she declared. Rumpelstiltskin ended up serving three years for tax evasion at the Enchanted Forest Penitentiary, where he taught basket weaving to his fellow inmates. His offer to teach basic accounting courses was denied.

Aladdin lampAladdin: The evil Sultan is trying to steal the Genie’s lamp and marry the lovely Jasmine to get her sizable wealth and inheritance. He also used some very creative math in managing the king’s books and wants to use one of his three wishes to make the royal auditor’s report vanish before it becomes public. But the Sultan errs in enlisting a street urchin named Aladdin to help him steal the lamp. Not only does Aladdin use up all the wishes, Jasmine falls in love with him.  Together, they expose the Sultan’s mismanagement of public funds by sharing the report with the whole village, not to mention national media and government regulators. The Sultan is currently serving five to 10.

P.S. The auditor’s son, also a CPA, recommended to Jasmine that she have Aladdin sign a prenup before they wed, but Aladdin balks. The story ends on a cliffhanger: Will they ever get married?

Hansel and Gretel: This story would never happen – a CPA knows better than to let young children wander through the forest alone. Ditto for Jack and the Beanstalk – professional liability insurance does not cover climbing beanstalks. 

Ann Marie Maloney, Communications Manager- Tax, American Institute of CPAs.

Little house of moss image via Shutterstock

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