Issue 18 guest edited by Everything Everywhere All At Once filmmakers Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert. An unscientific dive into the US tax system, featuring interviews with former IRS agents, a guide to tax avoidance, and stories of multiple astronauts who have requested filing extensions from space.
From The Editors
We decided to put taxes at the center of our film Everything Everywhere All At Once for two reasons.
The first: We once heard from a producer that if we ever wanted to retire early and live off royalty checks for the rest of our lives, we should make a holiday movie that becomes a classic. (Though a whole book could be written about the shady Hollywood accounting practices that make these instances rare.) Unfortunately, almost every holiday in the U.S. calendar had been taken—often squandered—by other filmmakers, so we were stuck with Tax Day.
The second: We once read that creating great characters requires pushing them through increasingly difficult situations, forcing them to dig deep inside themselves to find the resolve to come out the other side alive and anew. Again, we were stuck with no other choice: This movie was going to be about taxes.
Like everyone else, taxes make us fucking miserable. Yet our inner masochists often find a twisted joy in researching topics we despise (Swiss Army Man is all fart jokes, a cappella music, and “Cotton Eye Joe” remixes for God’s sake!). For this movie we read three books about the U.S. tax code, referenced dozens of online articles, and scrolled through countless Reddit threads, all to examine the tax system and our relationship to it. None of that material ended up in the movie. (Except for that part where Dierdre says “Schedule C.” We’re pretty proud of that. That’s a real form. Scheinert’s mom is obsessed with accounting and laughed during that part.) In this zine, we finally get to share a tiny slice of what we discovered in our research, alongside all sorts of exciting finance-related tidbits that our co-editors at A24 hunted down.
It’s been said so much that it’s lost all meaning: The only two certainties in life are death and taxes. Though we’d rather not invoke the only phrase anyone has ever heard about taxes, we would like to humbly offer up an alternative to the fatalistic, sardonic saying. If the only inevitable things in life are death and taxes, then what we might actually be saying is: To be alive is to owe something to the community around us until the day we die. In this way, taxes should remind us of how fragile we are on our own, and that no person is an island. Yes, the U.S. tax code is fraught with archaic systems designed to make it confusing for everyday people. (For further research: Intuit & H&R Block spend millions every year lobbying to keep it confusing.) Yes, it’s reprehensibly easy for those who can afford expensive accountants to game the system. Yes, the ways our governments spend our money is often disappointing. But at its core, taxes are a necessity, a responsibility, an annual ritual where we collectively contribute to the idea that we all need one another to survive in this chaotic world.
Now that we have officially lost every libertarian in the room, we’ll finish with a line from our film that Michelle Yeoh whispers into Harry Shum Jr.’s ear right before their Ratatouille-style kung fu scene:
“We’re all useless alone. Good thing you’re not alone.”
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