Monday, February 19, 2007

Oblivious of the Past

So I am taking Tax class this semester, which is important I suppose because I will have a tax related job this summer. I was excited to take tax class. I recall one of the 3L’s telling me that [Tax Prof] is a fucking tax god. So you can see why I was excited. I had had [Tax Prof] for a differently similar class my first year, and he spent half of each class talking about the tax code, so I thought that this class would be great.

Of course, two things should have tipped me off. First, I took Federal Income Tax as an undergrad, and it nearly turned me off tax forever. There was a 90 year old guy teaching the class, who did not seem to care about anything. Tenure to the extreme. This class was also held at 8 a.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. Yeah, this was not a good time for me. I was a sophomore living off campus, in a kick ass house (not a frat house, a normal house) in a town that delivered beer without asking for I.D. Needless to say, sophomore year was when I learned that Thursday was the first day of the weekend. Aside from skipping half of my classes, I learned that Tax did not appeal to my analytical brain.

Oh as an aside, a funny story about tax. There was a kid in my undergrad tax class, let us call him Pete, who skipped class more than I did. I happened to be in class the day that groups were assigned for our big end of the semester group project. We got to pick our groups so I got stuck with the other two kids who had no friends, well they were not that bad, but who am I to complain? Anyway, we set up a time to meet on a Saturday morning to go over the big end of the semester project, which in actuality was the preparation of a tax return according to all the rules, none us learned because the Prof’s false teeth made it difficult for him to enunciate. Anyway, the Friday night before the group meeting, I am out on the town, getting shit-faced and I run into Pete. We start talking about Tax class, and I learn that he has no group. Fucked up as I am, I tell him he should join my group. I tell him we are meeting at 10 am on Saturday, at [Address of this kid in the group]. He says thank you, and I continue on with the over-indulgence. I wake up the next morning to a throbbing in my head, that turns out to be half the hangover and half the alarm that has been going off for 45 minutes. So I throw on the clothes I wore the night before, after all they were at the foot of my bed, and head on out. I get to Steve’s apartment (the kid in my group whose apartment we agreed to meet at), and knock on the door while smoking a cigarette. He answers the door and says that I cannot smoke that inside, I understand, and fling it out into the street and enter the house (he had a little porch). I walk into Kevin’s apartment, and get an immediate sense of déjà vu. This was the first time I realized that all the apartments in the same complex looked exactly the same. Same layout, kitchen, counter, fridge, stove, carpet, and poorly laid out load bearing walls. It made me a bit disoriented, but not as disoriented as when I saw Pete sitting on the couch.

“Whoa, do you live with Kevin?” Was my first thought, that I did not say. Pete could not live with Kevin. What the hell was Pete doing here? I could not figure it out. Surely you can, because you have read this story, but my poor memory combined with enough booze to kill a midget had caused me to forget completely that I had invited him here, and without anyone else in the group even knowing. “You told me to come,” Pete said sensing my confusion. My bloodshot eyes took a glance over at Kevin (I had worked with him on a group project for another class and he knew that I was a bit of a wildcard) and he just kind of shrugged at me, as if to say, three minds are better than two, even if two of the minds are you and Pete.

So we sat around for a while, actually waiting for the fourth member of the group, who was not so much of a fuck-up as he was stupider than a pile of manure. However, it was a great excuse to put off getting started on the work. So I went out to smoke, and Kevin, not a smoker, came out too. I am not sure why Kevin came out, maybe so I would not burn his plants. But anyway, I get halfway through my smoke when the fourth member of the motley crew shows up. Realizing that it is time to get to work, I flick the half-smoked cig into the street, or at least I thought so. As we head inside, we hear this chick yell, “The Cigarette Is Burning the Shrubs.” What, I think. Who cares, there is fucking snow on the ground, and it will not burn shit. But Kevin gets a little paranoid, and heads back out the door. The girl yells out again, “It is still burning!!” Whatever I think, but look into the shrubbery to see if anything is burning. I see nothing. Suddenly a girl appears, and stamps out my cigarette as it lies in the street burning next to the sewer drain I had aimed for. I am tempted to yell out something about how she is a hippie, but alas, I am too hung-overly drunk to be witty. After all, it is tax time.

So we go through the problem, finish it, and turn it in. A few classes later, the old man hobbles up to the front of the room to let us know how we did. Every group, there was probably ten, had come up with a different answer. And only one group got the “right” answer. It was not my group. I was pissed. What the fuck kind of law is this shit where 45 different college educated students could get a different answer based on the same fact pattern? And more importantly, how could I have not gotten the right answer? To be fair, our groups Gross Income was less than the correct answer, and based on the frequency of IRS audits (<1%) I would say that my group’s answer, while not right, was the better answer.

And then I took the final, and apparently the old man did not agree with me about having a better answer than the right answer. I got a B-, the second worst grade I had ever received in my life (Once I figure out the difference between macro and micro economics I will tell you why I got a C (including an F on the midterm) for one and a B+ (because I got nothing less than a 92% on any exam, but I skipped so many classes that it drove my grade down so far that the Prof said that if I got a 95% on the final, I could get an A. I decided it was not worth it) for the other).

So if undergrad is the first reason I should I have been apprehensive, the second reason is the sheer size of the Tax class in law school. I was pretty much the last person eligible to register for any class this semester and I got into it. Needless to say, Tax is a popular class. There are 200 people in there if there is one (didn’t I learn anything about this cliché?). The sheer enormity of it makes it impossible to care. When the Prof is willing to cater to the lowest common denominator, then there is not much to do but surf the web in class.

I may have gotten a B- in undergrad tax class, but I still know the basic concepts. And Law Tax is based solely around basic concepts. Because you do not have to be an accountant to get tax law. You have to be a lawyer. All that tax class has become is a guide through the code and the regs. The only thing I am learning is where to find the particular law. It is pathetic. I was so excited about this class. I had hoped it would change my life; reinvigorate my interest in accounting (which was my major), but it has utterly failed to do so.

But on the bright side, well . . . I do not know, fuck the bright side. I am a pessimist. Once I get an A in the class I will worry about whether or not I learned anything.

Of course, the Prof is always pointing out that his accounting students never do as well as they think they will. This sounds like a challenge to me. Ahhh, if only I cared.

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