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Writing Poems Swansong for a Fisherman or an Income Tax Catch

Updated on March 15, 2013

Taxation's net is thrown both wide and indiscrimminately

The writer at work in 1992.  Swan Song for a Fisherman was written eleven years earlier.  It is based on a true story.
The writer at work in 1992. Swan Song for a Fisherman was written eleven years earlier. It is based on a true story.

Writing Poems - One way not to 'conserve the revenue'

Many years back I worked for the Australian equivalent of America's Inland Tax Revenue organization. Inevitably the government, in its efforts to catch tax cheats, made the occassional blunder. Our Inland tax revenue department would perhaps unearth a source of tax, only to find it close down on them to become a drain on the taxpayer. The poem below depicts such an incident.

Swan Song for a Fisherman

-Or an Income Tax Catch-

There was a man who worked hard and long,

Yet each day his toil was filled with song;

His earnings to all did they belong,

He’d never heard of Taxations gong.

One day there came to our man, Max,

A Government man to check some facts;

Our poor hero, he’d been lax-

In all his life he’d paid no tax.

Now, our man, Max, for was a fishing man,

To sail and fish, was his life-long plan;

But out of his life this ambition ran,

When his tax-returns oversight hit the fan.

Here, a bumbling bureucracy really did kill incentive

All his saving went to pay his debt,

His current earning, too, were kept;

There was no way out for our fishing boy,

His days were no longer filled with joy.

They couldn’t take from him his boat,

His fishing gear or warm, wooly coat;

But his bank-account they shook by the throat,

Made him feel around town a proper goat.

With this kind of tax it no longer paid to earn,

The harder he worked, the more he’d burn;

“Oh, well,” he said, “We live and learn,

From Aussie’s workforce I’ll adjourn.”

He gave up fishing and went on unemployment relief payments

And so Max decided not to work.

He’d fish just weekly for a lerk.

To slave for the Government? Why be a jerk?

He’d go on the dole – a far better perk.

Our Max, he didn’t know right from wrong,

But on the dole he doesn’t belong,

It’s men like him who made our country strong,

We were far better off when we heard his song.

Moral of this fishing tale, is a fishing pro,

A man who was always on the go,

Who fed the country, made us grow,

Was encouraged by The System to work real slow.


So I think you'll see that Australia's system of Inland Tax Revenue can be ever bit as clumsy as any other in this big wide world.

I hope you enjoyed Writing Poetry - Swan Song for a Fisherman.

Keep smiling



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