April 18 looms like a specter at this time of year, casting a pall over the forsythia and daffodils that coax us to be cheerful. Like a sick child who longs to play outside on a sunny day but must remain confined, we itemizers are chained to desks or dining-room tables littered with receipts, calendars, checkbook registers, and credit card statements for the annual spring ordeal.

Not that we file our own taxes. No, like 71 percent of Americans (according to Rasmussen), and like the overwhelming majority of members of Congress, including those on tax-writing committees, we pay someone else to prepare our taxes. The pencil-chewing dining-room table tribulation is merely the necessary antecedent to the actual preparation of a tax return by a professional.

The April 18 deadline predisposes one to sympathize with all other harassed taxpayers, so when The New York Times lambasted General Electric for paying no federal income tax, it occasions a second look.

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