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Death, taxes, and...jail time?


A few years ago, a friend that I had lost touch with attempted to rob a convenience store. Unfortunately, my buddy Will was a little flaky, so his plans quickly went awry. He showed up after closing, brandishing a rifle and wearing a ski mask. When he demanded entry to the store, the clerk called the police. Although Will shed his incriminating clothing and weapons while running across a field, he was still captured by police and was later convicted for attempted robbery.

It seems like the annals of crime literature are littered with tales of bone-headed criminals. We've all heard the stories of bank robbers writing notes on the back of check stubs, knocking themselves out with nunchucks, or stealing bags of quarters, only to be caught a few blocks later, out of breath and with pulled muscles.

Last week, however, a robber in Des Moines, Iowa took stupidity to a new level. After robbing a Git-n-Go, he made his first mistake: he left behind his jacket and hat. Apart from providing a helpful level of concealment, the robber's outerwear was probably a necessary protection against the late-February chill. However, catching a cold was to become the least of the robber's worries. In one of his jacket pockets, police found a W-2 form with his name and address on it.

How stupid can you get! I wonder if the robber has any idea how hard it is to get a replacement W-2! Additionally, of course, he gave away his identity to the police and will, presumably, hear from them soon.

This also raises another interesting question: how does one declare income from a robbery? I guess it would go under "Wages, tips, and salary" on line 7, but couldn't it also be treated as gambling income? I hope the robber chooses wisely--the last thing he needs is to have the IRS on his tail.

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. His wife does the taxes.

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