Connubial Connivance

Joseph Thompson

[Reprinted from an undated pamphlet, Simple Talks on Taxation, published by the author]

Honey, I've just thought up a brilliant idea! How'd you like to make over Fifty thousand dollars?
"You're not going to make some crazy investment, are you?
Hey! Don't be so suspicious of my financial genius!
Well, why did you ask such a silly question?
Because there's a matter of Fifty thousand dollars that you can get if you use my idea, or lose, if you don't.
What do you mean?
Well, you know that I had Six hundred thousand dollars when we were married and that it was all mine.
And you know that I'm one of those robust, healthy fellers that often surprise their families and friends by suddenly dropping dead.
Don't be silly.
And if I drop dead, you'd be my heir.
I hope so.
And, as the Six hundred thousand isn't community property, you'd inherit it from me.
Oh, let's not talk about you dropping dead.
You're very sweet, to want to quit, but just one word more. You'd have a whale of a tax on the Six hundred thousand. Seventy-two thousand and fifty dollars, to be exact.
I suppose so. But I don't see how it can be avoided.
That's where your genius of a husband comes in. I do. At least to the extent of Fifty-one thousand, eight hundred dollars.
Goodness! Is there something that we ought to do?
Sure. But you might think it was a little drastic.
If it would save all that money, what is it that we ought to do?
Get divorced.
Get divorced!
Oh, I mean in a nice way, of course. You'd go to Reno for a few weeks. I wouldn't contest. We'd make a property settlement, and -
What on earth are you talking about?
Dearest, it's this way. If you inherit the Six hundred thousand now, the government is going to hold you up for Seventy-two thousand and Fifty dollars. But there is no tax on a property settlement. No matter what you get from me, there's no tax on a property settlement.
But getting a divorce!
Wait a minute. You will demand a considerable sum - three hundred thousand dollars - it might be that I will have to arrange to be caught in "flagrante delicti" or whatever it is, so your demand would be big, and I would submit rather than endure unpleasant publicity -
Are you crazy?
Let me finish. Now there'd be two estates, and when I die you'll only pay taxes on my estate. That would be Twenty thousand, two hundred and fifty, instead of Seventy-two thousand.
Yes, but we'd be divorced!
Oh, that. It would only be for a little while, then we'd re-marry, put our two estates in a trust, and good, kind old Uncle Sam would make us a wedding present of Fifty-one thousand, eight hundred dollars!
Well, I think your idea is horrid! And besides, when we re-married, we'd be right back where we were before.
No. We wouldn't. Between us we'd have the Six hundred thousand, but one-half would be yours and one-half would be mine. Then all I would have to do is die, and you'd soon see the value of my idea.
What if I decided not to re-marry you?
That is an unthinkable, intolerable and untenable hypothesis! To begin with, you'd lose over Seventy-two thousand dollars. Then, though broken-hearted, I'd marry - someone else, of course. She and I would go through the same routine - get divorced and remarry. It's as simple as that!
That nice Mr. Willard lives in Reno, doesn't he?
Yes. But why do you ask?
Oh, I don't know. Just wondering what I'd do up there, I suppose.