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Everything farthing

The Friendship Academy of Folklore is a figment of my curious whimsy, and during 1981 we are in sabbatical. We alternate. This year we are the Back River Boat Works & Kindling Wood Factory. This schizophrenic schedule amounts to my changing the signs over my shop door, a ceremony accompanied by bagpipe music (sic). When I am the Friendship Academy of Folklore I pursue cultural projects, and when I am the Back River Boat Works & Kindling Wood Factory I meditate more and pursue less. Some people are not amused.

In the conduct of the numerous seminars, conferences, rallies, celebrations, retreats, and occasional picnics sponsored either by the Academy or the Boat works, there is a moment now and then (which pleases me beyond rapture) when somebody takes things seriously and swallows hook, line, and sinker to the general delight. I think many a red-blooded American who yearns for lost causes will like to know that we have a sales tax number and that it has just paid off. The State of Maine exacts a 5 percent sales and use tax, and requires the retailer to do all the work. Most people and firms that make major contributions file monthly returns and pay accordingly, but for anybody who makes only occasional or random sales the return can be made annually. Well, if a fellow only business is selling Christmas trees, he'd have little reason to make a return in June. So, every once in a while the conduct of my several affairs results in something or other that is "subject" to the sales tax.

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I'm sure most people with no more reason than I would forget the whole thing, but I don't hanker to have anybody from the State House coming around, and I applied for and got a sales tax number for the Friendship Academy of Folklore, return to be made annually on January 15 for the previous calendar year. During 1980 the Academy made no sales subject to tax. indeed, we had a year devoted entirely to contemplation, eschewing the commercial completely.It was a pleasant year, everything considered, and I hope 1981 will prove equally uneventful and satisfactory.

On the sixth day of Christmas there came the notice from the Bureau of Taxation, Sales Tax Section, that it was time to declare our 1980 sales. So I wrote on the form that 1980 had been uneventful in the affairs of the Friendship Academy of Folklore and spent 15 cents to bring this sad news to the attention of the state.

Then, as I laid a copy of my return in a safe place where I would not find it again, I noticed a pink card that said, "Important -- see notice on reverse side." I like that. Last summer we had an artist lady work along our shore, and she was something of a kindred spirit, because while she was doing her painting she would pick up a tone and brush on it, "Please turn me over." After she was gone, people would find one of these stones, and, acting on the request, would turn it over to find on the reverse, "Thank you very much." So I wondered why the state had to put its important notices on a reverse side, and half expecting the reverse to say Thank You Very Much, I turned the thing over and read:

"The enclosed sales and use tax return provides space for a federal identification number. Please be sure to enter the federal identification number of your business. Businesses not required to obtain an employer's federal identification number are requested to enter the owner's Social Security Number in the space provided for a federal identification number. We appreciate your cooperation."

Shucks! I had already sealed the envelope and dropped it in the slot. So, to be on the safe side, I took down the Friendship Academy of Folklore sign, and if the Attorney General seeks me out for a violation, he will find me d.b.a. -- the Boat Works. Signed: 004-10-8943.

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