The duty of a free press has always been to provide readers with a comprehensive and unvarnished picture of the world writ large. Though governments and their officials may strive to conceal vital documents from the public eye, The Onion insists that true journalism consists in shedding light upon even the darkest corners of our society. That is why today, thanks to the intrepid actions of one anonymous source, our editorial board has chosen to reveal that it possesses a copy of the IRS tax form 1040.
The revelations from these pages are, to put it bluntly, monumental.
Since receiving the tax form—often considered one of the most hotly sought-after records in recent American history—our substantial team of 327 fact-checkers, reporters, and legal experts have spent tireless nights to trawl through its depths, extracting explosive details about the function of standardized deductions for heads of household and married couples filing separately. Although the 1040 form pages fell into our editorial department’s hands in early 2019, it has taken nearly 18 months of around-the-clock examination to fully grasp its precise scale and ramification for the American people.
Indeed, the document tells a far different and potentially more damning story than the rumor mill surrounding the 1040 have suggested: earned income credit, Alaska Permanent Fund dividends, dependents. For years, the role of such terms—long presumed by our editorial board to be crucial components in understanding income tax filing—have been discounted as overblown hearsay. Yet here, they offer tantalizing glimpses at a larger whole, filling in the picture to render a dizzying understanding of precisely how and why an individual would file, say, using joint marital status.
We have chosen to publish our understanding of these records despite the extraordinary legal and physical threats that we will likely face. Additionally, in a contentious election year between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joseph R. Biden we will surely face blowback from pundits for potentially upending the race with the explosive details about the form’s “wages, salaries tips, etc...” section and what it implies about the elusive form known only as W-2.
Of course, uncertainties will continue to dog our investigation: Namely, what is the form 1099-INT or the form 8888? And how does “adjusted gross income” differ from “taxable income”? What is the total income after adding lines 1, 2b, 3b, 4b, 4d, 5b, 6, and 7a? Such answers lie beyond our power as faithful custodians of the truth to furnish without delving into the rank speculation that has long plagued other lesser news outlets.
Nonetheless, we are confident that publication of the form known as 1040 represents the proper step forward for the truth, for The Onion and for the nation as a whole. These pages represent perhaps the most detailed look yet at the government’s dealings in taxation, and despite the tremendous risks we incurred through their procurement, it is incumbent upon us as stewards of the great journalistic tradition of truth-telling to provide these documents to the public. May the American people deal with them thoughtfully, and may a benevolent God guide our hand in reacting to their terrifying implications.
Tu stultus es.