Bad news is good news.
This evening, at WalMart's $1.00-per-yard fabric sale, I waited a long time to have my fabric cut. Half a dozen Mennonite women were ahead of me, as well as several other ladies.
One lady, about my age, had a shopping cart full of fabric bolts. As we waited, she did a lot of talking. First she talked to the Mennonite ladies. When it was their turn to have their fabric cut, she turned to the rest of us and continued her broadcast:
Taxes are too high, and government services are inadequate. The Great Depression will return soon, and only the elderly are tough enough to survive it. Politicians are crooked, so voting does no good. The neighbors are immoral, dishonest, and lazy. The garden fails every year. The weather will turn dry any day, and we won't have rain until next winter. (Etc.)
As the woman preached on and on, a couple of ladies in the line began to chime in like a Greek chorus. "That's right! It happens every time!" I listened with growing irritation at her pessimistic attitude. I didn't like being in the captive audience. I had a strong desire to argue with her, but I read the information on several packs of sewing needles instead.
Then she made a public service announcement: If anyone needs appliances or electronics, they should shop in Tennessee this weekend. It's a tax-free weekend there. The prices will still be much too high, but it's a good chance to avoid paying the sales tax.
I decided not to let this pass. "Actually, you're supposed to pay Kentucky tax on any tax-free purchases that you use in Kentucky," I said firmly. "There's a place to report it on your Kentucky income tax form."
The zealous pessimist was taken aback. "I've never heard that before," she sputtered.
"What happens when you buy a car in another state and don't pay sales tax on it?" I asked. "When you go to the county clerk's office to license it, don't they collect Kentucky sales tax on it?"
"That's right," one of the chorus ladies chimed in. "It happened to me."
"All internet purchases, catalog purchases, and out-of-state purchases that are tax free must be reported," I proclaimed. "I know some people who were audited, and they had to pay a penalty for not reporting their internet purchases on their Kentucky taxes."
"Who's next?" called one of the clerks. The talkative woman shot forward and lifted a bolt of fabric onto the cutting table. "Nine and a half yards," she told the clerk.
Later, I sat on a stool, looking through the books of sewing patterns. I heard the woman's voice in a nearby aisle. "You might think you're getting a good deal when you shop in Tennessee on their tax-free weekend, but you're not," she said to an unidentified victim . "You still have to pay sales tax if you bring it back to Kentucky. There's a place to report it on your income tax form. You just can't win."
I hadn't realized that I was providing fodder.