Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Vol II – Episode 67: Income Tax, Tomato Soup, and How the Other Half Lives

Political Satire:  Having trouble surviving these times?  You’re not alone.  Join us in columnist John F. Di Leo’s exploration of an alternate universe, where we imagine the impossible:

Joe Buckstop, an aging, corrupt old fool, somehow becomes president in his basement, and every night, an aide has to bring him his soup and discuss the events of the day as he prepares to receive his nightly meds…

Note: We continue from Volume Two, as Joe Buckstop’s soup aide, young Rhett Snapper, has taken the day off, and the cook herself has to fill in.

Income Tax, Tomato Soup, and How the Other Half Lives

Dateline May 17. Begin Transcript:

“Hello there, boss, I’m here with your tomato soup.”

“Huh, who’s that? That doesn’t sound like the usual kid, is it?”

“Well, congratulations, sir. You can tell the difference between an old woman with a bum knee and a 20 year old boy, just by the voice. Just wait ’til I round this corner and you get a visual.”

“Oh, umm, hello… you’re the cook, right?”

“Good guess, boss. Want a cracker?”

“Oh, are there crackers?”

“Yes, sir, of course. Bowl of tomato soup, bowl of crackers, stack of napkins, and a soup spoon with a rounded plastic handle so you don’t hurt yourself. Again.”

“Oh, right, that was, umm, oh, what’s the word, it was ummm… come on, man, you know the thing, umm…”

“Clumsy, boss?”

“No, umm, no… what’s the word…”

“Stupid, sir?”

“No, that’s not it…”


“Yes, that’s it. Embarrassing. Can you give me these soft plastic handled spoons from now on?”

“Yes, sir, I plan to.”

“Good. And it’s good that you came down. I have a message for you.”

“Oh? What’s that, boss?”

“Umm… I don’t remember just now…”

“Well, sir, then I hope it wasn’t urgent…”

“Well, that kid seemed to think it was…”

“That kid? What kid, sir?”

“The one who usually brings me my soup.”

“Rhett Snapper, sir?”

“That’s it! Right, that’s the kid.”

“Well, what’s the message, sir? This should be good.”

“Well, now, that’s the thing. I don’t remember. He said when I see you, I need to remember to tell you something.”

“What’s that, sir?”

“Something about the soups… It’s on the tip of my tongue.”

“Oh well. Don’t worry about it. You can sort it out with him when he’s back tomorrow, boss.”

“Oh, right, he’s not here. Where is he?”

“I was wondering if you’d ask, sir.”

“He didn’t quit, did he? I have so much trouble holding on to staff… and when I do, they file charges…”

“Oh, Rhett hasn’t quit, sir. He just called in sick, sir.”

“Oh? What does he have? Is it contagious? He was just here last night… I hope it’s not contagious…”

“No, sir, not everything’s about you, sir.”


“He called in and said he couldn’t make it to work tonight, because of taxes. His family still wasn’t done filing them, and he needed the evening to work on it with them, sir.”

“Huh? This isn’t Party Day!”

“I beg your pardon, boss?”

“Oh, sorry, April 15. It’s what we call Party Day.”

“What on earth for, sir?”

“Because that’s the day everybody sends in their money, of course! Party time, you know?”

“Oh, I see, sir. Should’ve known.”

“So why were they doing it now? It’s, uh, it’s May, isn’t it?”

“Yes sir. It’s May 17, sir. For two years in a row, the government extended tax day because of the virus, sir.”

“Do viruses pay taxes? Cool! I never knew!”

“No, sir. The virus has so messed up the economy, that everyone is running behind, sir. Millions of people and businesses and branches went bankrupt during this thing, sir. That make tax filing more complicated.”

“Well, they should just hire somebody else to do it. No reason to do it yourself if it’s too complicated.”

“Now, think about it, sir. Do you think that people who lost their jobs, or lost their businesses, or had to switch from one full time job to three part time jobs… are going to be able to afford to hire tax professionals to do their taxes for them, sir?”

“Why not? That’s how it works, isn’t it?”

“Look, chief, most people use tax software to file their taxes. And depending on how tricky your personal situation is, you might need to experiment with three or four of the brands before you find one that handles all your specific issues, sir.”

“Oh. Sure sounds like it would be easier to hire somebody.”

“Sir, most people aren’t in your situation. They have to actually pay attention to their expenses. If they end up having to pay another grand or two, or more, because some withholding wasn’t calculated perfectly during the year, then they certainly have to watch every additional hundred, or few hundred, that the tax preparer might charge, sir.”

“I thought tax preparers are cheap.”

“I’m sure there’s a full range of options, sir, from cheap to expensive, both in the online options and in the live preparer options, sir. My point is, it’s a lot of work. And the things you guys keep doing in Washington just make it harder.”

“How’s that?”

“Well, sir, for example, let’s say you come up with a stimulus of a grand or two to help people, because things are bad.”

“Yeah, sure….”

“Well, when things are bad, people often take money out of their retirement funds, to pay the bills, rather than borrow money at high interest, right?”

“I guess.”

“And then, they think they’ll get these stimulus payments, because they earn under the threshold… and then they discover that their decision to be responsible and take money out of their retirement funds gets counted as income, so they don’t qualify for the stimulus after all! It’s for their kind of people… but if they’ve tried to be responsible in their lives, the choice ends up being punished, sir!”

“I don’t understand.”

“The point is, sir, in rough times, families have more decisions to make, and part of that is stuff like figuring out who should be a dependent and who shouldn’t… and who should qualify for this or that benefit and who shouldn’t… and how to divvy up expenses and things… honest people, trying to do the right thing, desperately trying to keep the government from robbing them any more than necessary, sir! That’s where Rhett is tonight; he and his family are burning the midnight oil to finish up their taxes by midnight, sir.”


“Look, sir, I know that you can’t put yourself in their shoes; it’s been 50 years since you’ve had to worry about the regular costs of a family household. It’s just that… I think it sure would help if you people in government had some clue of what real life is like, sir.”

“Uh. I understand real life!”

“Do you? You made over $600,000 last year, and paid over $150,000 in federal income taxes. Do you think the regular American family has any clue of that kind of a lifestyle?”

“Umm, how did you know that? Have you been sneaking looks at my bank book or something?”

“Sir, your campaign published your tax numbers this weekend. It’s public knowledge, sir.”


“And I’m betting most of the country is wondering how a retired guy who stayed in his basement all year, campaigning for public office but not currently holding down an actual job in the first place… managed to earn $600,000 last year anyway, sir.”


“How DID you earn all that money, sir?”

“Beats me. Money just appears when you’re in Washington, you know. It’s one of the nice things about living there.”

“Is that so, sir?”

“Oh yeah. Sure. It’s a great way to live.”

“I’ll bet it is, sir. I’ll bet it is.”

Copyright 2021-2024 John F Di Leo

Excerpted with permission from Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volume Two, from Free State West Publishing, available in paperback or eBook exclusively on Amazon.

John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based international transportation and trade compliance professional and consultant.  A onetime Milwaukee County Republican Party chairman, he has been writing a regular column for Illinois Review since 2009.  His book on vote fraud (The Tales of Little Pavel) and his political satires on the current administration (Evening Soup with Basement Joe, Volumes III, and III), are available in either eBook or paperback, only on Amazon.

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