tax

Posted by Ellen

By eleven o'clock on a Friday night, the streets of downtown Bessemer, Alabama, are empty, and the town looks dead. Even the Bright Star Restaurant is closed for the night.

The only thing open, it seems, at least on this block of 19th Street in Bessemer, is the office of Liberty Tax preparers. Wonder why the folks in there are burning the midnight oil?

Posted by Ellen

The guy behind the desk with the papers in his hands and the moneybags scattered all about–today is his day, April 15. He's the taxman, and he owns us.

Sometime between 1620 and 1640, the Flemish artist Pieter Breughel the Elder painted this scene, "Paying the Tax." The original painting was lost long ago, but we know it through some forty copies painted by the artist's son, Pieter Breughel the Younger.

Nothing subtle here. The villagers are struggling to settle up with eggs and produce and promises; the clerks are slovenly and unsympathetic, and the head taxman is all decked out in royal purple. Got the picture?