“Why settle for a refund when you can pay no taxes at all?” asks a shady tax prep firm in this week’s 52 Sellout. A logical question on the surface, but if you avail yourself of their services it probably won’t end well.
Inspiration for this week’s ad comes from the ad blitzes of companies like H&R Block, which are all over the airwaves in these weeks leading up to April 15, the deadline for filing U.S. income tax returns (though technically this year it’s April 18 due to a Washington D.C. holiday). Musically I went with something slightly orchestral and uplifting, like in H&R Block’s “Jog Into Refund Season” series of spots. They also recently ran ads with a lot of EDM, like this ad with trap & bass music by Baauer, but I wasn’t really in a dance music mood this week, and doing a tongue-in-cheek sendup of ostentatious rap videos has been done a million times.
For the subject matter I remembered an article I read in GQ (I’m so stylish) years ago about Wesley Snipes’ tax situation, for which he went to federal prison for 3 years. His tax preparers subscribed to all kinds of paranoid and unproven theories about how to avoid paying federal income tax and I thought it was fascinating. It reminded me of those crazy family friends who have theories like “if a police officer tries to write you a speeding ticket while not wearing his hat, he is considered out of uniform and the ticket is invalid.” Basically these are the Dale Griblles of the world and there are a number of them out there, as we continue to see in the various stand-offs these groups have with the Feds.
I looked up the most used frivolous arguments and tried to incorporate as many of them as I could into this spot, and all the arguments I used are actual arguments the I.R.S. says people continue to make. Bet you didn’t know I did research for this series did you? Hope you like it!