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Originally published Sunday, March 16, 2014 at 5:30 AM

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Spring forward with 5 tantalizing tax tips

The Wrap by Ron Judd

Seattle Times staff columnist

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Ah, spring. Buds blooming, tulips stretching, hummingbirds buzzing — and gas prices being arbitrarily jacked up by the prize hogs smart enough to own their own Congress.

But for ultra-law-abiding citizens such as Mr. Wrap, the best part of spring is the opportunity to once again support Our Federal Government by completing income-tax forms. As we all dutifully troop, receipts in hand to our local accountants — or stay home and maniacally pound on the top of a computer running TurboTax — keep in mind the following insider tax tips:

• Be sure to check the box to make a $5 voluntary donation to the federal treasury. It’s the “My-State’s-Largest-Employer-Makes-$6-Billion-a-Year-But-Never-Ever-Pays-A-Cent-In-Taxes” corporate-welfare compensation feature, aka the “Boeing Box.”

• Street value of 1984 vintage, Hyundai-sized Sony Trinitron: $3.75. Official IRS Goodwill receipt value: $450.

• Avoid the common mistake of failing to answer the standard-exemption question: Are you now or have you in the past year produced goats, sheep, bulgur wheat or an “educational video” with your smartphone?

• The actual cash purchase of a member of the U.S. House can be claimed as a business expense, but only if you kept the receipt.

• Tipping of accountants and other certified tax preparers is not required, but let’s be honest: Could it really hurt?

More dubious deductions:

This Just In From CNN: Thanks to two heroic guys with an old gillnetter who got sudden inspiration during the Rolling Rock happy hour at Cap Hansen’s Tavern, the search for the missing Malaysian plane now has been expanded to Bellingham Bay.

This Just About In: Our sources say the Washington State Department of Transportation has sent a team of investigators to Malaysia to learn more about this trick of making a massive, complicated, incredibly expensive piece of machinery vanish into thin air.

And On the Seventh Day: CNN proclaimed, “Here’s what we know. We know when the plane took off.”

Speaking of Which: Can anyone counter Mr. Wrap’s suspicion that CNN babbling gasbag Richard Quest is considered an “aviation expert” by CNN simply because he has an Austin Powers accent?

Minimum Wager: Disturbing news, this study about shrinking job opportunities for teens. Look: Someone is going to have to step up to find other ways to keep them off Mr. Wrap’s lawn.

Tip Jarring: Starbucks has a new phone app that allows you to tip baristas. Oddly enough, it also allows you to complement your drink with a fine breakfast pastry, or courtside tickets for the Oklahoma Thunder.

Monkey Barring: A Croatian zoo considered by many to be the “worst in the world” is closing. Nice for the animals, but it just means some other city now has the Worst Zoo in the World.

Which Only Makes Us Wonder: Does the worst zoo in the world keep elephants in chains and/or behind bars, or is it just ours?

And Finally: Here’s some critical mass for the history books: Sam Adams beer has pulled out as a major sponsor of Boston’s St. Patrick’s Day parade because organizers won’t allow gay groups to march. Argue it all you want, folks, but when you lose the beer companies, you’ve lost the hearts and minds of America.

Ron Judd’s column appears each Sunday. Reach him at or 206-464-8280.

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