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Maybe a figure-four leg lock on the IRS is the appropriate move

In the early to mid-1990s, the male soap opera known as professional wrestling had its share of heels. This in no way is a reference to female footwear. Nope, these guys were the ones who fans booed unmercifully for their actions inside and outside the ring.

You know, the villains. Wrestling is the epitome of good vs. evil and just when you think you have a beat on who are the good-natured ones, the storyline changes and the good guys go bad.

As I said, a male soap opera.

One bad dude who always stayed bad was IRS. The fans of the World Wrestling Entertainment just loved to hate IRS.

Now some of you are reading this and saying “I’m no fan of that wrestling stuff, but I do have a few choice words for the IRS.” If that is the case, then you too would probably relish in having a 6-foot-3, 250-pound man in the squared circle to take the verbal brunt of your spewed venom that was actually intended for the Internal Revenue Service.

From 1991-1995, Mike Rotunda portrayed an array of wrestling roles, but he was best known for that of Irwin R. Schyster (I.R.S.). Schyster had a “tax-man” gimmick as he -- dressed in suspenders and tie – was a former IRS tax collector from Washington, D.C., who harassed all the fans, urging them to pay their taxes. I.R.S. would later form the team of “Money Inc.” with the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase.

Well, James Howarth is no wrestler and he wasn’t put in a sleeper hold by DiBiase, but he has confronted IRS – the one in the tall office building, not the one who might finish you off with a running clothesline.

The Internal Revenue Service has busted the likes of actor Wesley Snipes and former U.S. Vice President Spiro Agnew for tax evasion after they dodged paying their share on thousands of dollars. But what if it isn’t millions, thousands or even some noteworthy loose change found in the couch cushions at your own house?

Howarth had such an issue.

The Detroit defense attorney received a letter back in November saying he owed the government five cents. I repeat “five” cents. In Spanish, that’s “cinco.” In Dutch, that’s “vijf.” In French, that’s “cinq.” In Italian, that’s “cinque.” In Swedish, that’s “fem.”

In Enochese, that’s “onemorethanfour.”

This is a mandatory “request” for five cents from people who apparently have no sense.

The Detroit Free Press reported earlier this month that Howarth was notified to pay “to avoid additional penalty and/or interest.” Howarth, however, said a second letter told him he’s actually due four cents, but he would have to request the refund since it’s under $1.

To this, Howarth said he’s not sure whether there is connection between the nickel bill and the 4-cent refund. He’s also not sure if he now owes the government a penny of if he’s benefiting from a 9-cent swing.

“I just don’t know,” he told the newspaper. “But I do know that if I were to walk into the IRS office with pennies taped to a piece of cardboard, they wouldn’t accept it.”

Howarth said he called the toll-free telephone number on his letters, but gave up after “an inordinate amount of time on hold. And I’m sure the agent would have been delighted to have this file land on his desk.”

An IRS spokesman said the agency doesn’t comment on individual accounts.

Now that’s a shocker. The IRS wouldn’t talk about its stupidity, but if you don’t pay up, you better believe the IRS will drop a stable full of horse hockey pucks on you, you vile, insubordinate disgrace to the American flag. Sorry about that, but I just wanted to truly convey the IRS employees’ actual thoughts on your life’s existence.

“When I owe them a nickel, I must pay them,” Howarth told the Free Press. “It’s not optional. But when they owe me, I have to ask for it.”

And as for Howarth’s plans, he said he is in consultation with his accountant – and he may try to follow in the footsteps of Wall Street financiers to see resolution, although he anticipates his Detroit address will work against him.

“I might apply for a bailout,” Howarth said. “But, for us, there seems to be some sort of stigma.”

Howarth most likely would agree that IRS now stands for “Internal Reviews Stink.”

So Screven Countians, remember when you get down on your knees at night to pray for pennies from heaven to assist you and your neighbors during this financial strife, keep in mind that every penny counts.

For added proof, just check in with our buddies at the IRS, who will smack you harder than a flying elbow off the turnbuckle.

Enoch Autry is the publisher-editor of the Sylvania Telephone.