Well today is everyone’s favorite days of the year…that day when taxes are due.
Last week at the comic book group that meets at the Guilderland library, we were talking about Batman v Superman and I made the comment that I wish DC Comics would hurry up and offer a digital service like the Marvel Digital Unlimited. I think I was talking about the difficulty it was for me to do some fact checking / looking for panels for my series on Batman v Superman since my books are in storage locker. Somehow we got talking about older stories we wanted to read but were either to expensive to buy, hard to find, or unable to find on the internet.
Mike Y was talking about the Superman story that Mark Waid has said is one of his favorite, the one where Superman owes $ Billion dollars in taxes. After some googling and searching I found the the summary on the DCWiki page. Using the summary from there and Google image search I have been able to piece together this gem of a Silver Age Superman story:
Superman’s trouble with the federal government begins when rookie I.R.S. agent Rupert Brand makes a startling discovery one day…
Brand, who must read The Daily Planet, sets out to contact Superman, by pulling a Lois Lane and hurling himself off of a building (I guess the Postal Service doesn’t deliver to the Fortress of Solitude). Unfortunately, SUperman is off planet collecting a rare egg from a passing comet to bring back to Earth for examination. Brand not knowing this goes splat on the ground, or not. Naturally, Superman of course comes to the rescue, even though he is helping with a collection drive for the Metropolis Fireman’s Welfare Fund. Superman probably disappointed that it Brand the taxman,is not Lois. Brand, like any good government employee wastes no time giving Superman the bad news and doesn’t even bother sugar coat the news or thank Superman for saving his life …
After whisking the agent back to his office, Superman is informed he owes the U.S. government ONE BILLION DOLLARS! (give or take a million). It would only be many years later that the Crash Test Dummies would release their 1991 debut, Superman’s Song, detailing Superman’s financial status.
To avoid revealing his secret identity (I would assume as Clark Kent he does pay taxes) Superman spends the rest of the story frantically scrambling for extra cash, only to lose any income from his “get rich quick” methods by means of a series of goofy Silver Age plot twists and turns.
Superman flies to the African Congo where he collects a large cache of elephant tusks from an elephant graveyard hoping to net the billion dollars from selling the ivory, not even flinching at the ethical and international ramifications this may raise. Using an abandoned Foreign Legion outpost as a receptacle, Superman scoops up the valuable ivory tusks from an elephant graveyard he “once spotted” during his travels…Bizarro arrives and in a misguided attempt to try and help Superman turns the tusks into worthless bars of soap…Ivory Soap…shameless plug no doubt.
Superman, next goes to a coal mine and tries to use his super powers to compress coal into diamonds. Luckily the comet that has passed the Earth has had a temporary effect on the coal, making it impossible for Superman to crush it into diamonds. Not only is unable to pay his tax bill but his plans of decimating the worlds coal supply and flooding the diamond market causing economic chaos worldwide is also thwarted.
Returning it to the spot where he left the egg, Superman is surprised to find that the egg has hatched into some strange creature.
Does Superman give up? of course not deciding to get help from his friends, he acquires a growth serum from Professor Potter and enlists the aid of Aquaman in finding the worlds biggest oyster so that he can use the growth formula to make the worlds largest pearl
Not satisfied Superman continues raiding the sea, next goes out to collect a number of valuable items from lost tombs and from under the sea. He gets Lori Lemaris and her merpeople to help him with his pillaging of the sea.
Probably feeling guilty, Superman goes off into space to get a chunk of Radium, he breaks it down and takes it to hospitals that are in need due to a shortage of Radium on Earth, only to return to find that the space creature has eaten everything, Superman then tosses the creature out into space, out of spite.
A defeated Superman returns to the IRS (eat your heart out Lex Luthor) and his deadline looming, Superman tries to pull a fast one and writes a check for the one billion dollars to give to Brand. Brand tells Superman that the check is worthless as it had come from the First National Bank of Krypton.
But all hope is not lost, moments before I can only imagine Superman getting ready to pop Brand’s head like a zit, toss him into space, or burn Brand with his heat vision, Brand’s boss (probably just Batman in disguise in true Silver Age fashion) enters the office and informs Superman that he’s off the hook for the billion-dollar tax bill…what is this tax loophole that is the reasoning behind the clever last-minute reprieve?
Presumably, according Code 1426B*** of the income tax code, every person on Earth is Superman’s “dependent,” thus allowing him to claim a $600 deduction/per person, which a privilege only afforded to the 0.0001%, but wouldn’t that screw up the entire tax system? I don’t know, but I think TurboTax will back me up. Sure there are all kinds of rules when it comes to claiming a dependent, but let’s consider that everyone in America qualified as Superman’s dependent. This means that no one else gets to claim their dependents because Superman just claimed them all. That means every taxpayer with a dependent is now on the hook with the I.R.S …heck if I can’t claim my two dogs as dependents then this shouldn’t be allowed either.
But as long as Superman is happy, to blazes with everyone else, right? And look at him. He’s totally fine with it…I am definitely rethinking my thoughts on Batman’s position on Superman in Batman v Superman.
I am sure that later after Superman leaves (in the unedited version of the story), Brand’s boss rips him a new one for failing to follow IRS procedure of launching his own collection process without obtaining approval from his department supervisor and firing Brand on the spot.
Of course, being the jerk he is Superman now back is Clark Kent, probably uses his super-hearing and chuckles as Brand is chewed out by the boss. Brand in true villain fashion threatens to get Superman next time too which Superman responds “No you won’t,” pausing only to take a second and breaking the fourth wall to toss the classic Silver Age wink.
If I ever a hefty tax bill my plan is to become a vigilante superhero then apply the “Superman Loophole” and claim the entire world population as my dependents…it might just work…