Vol. 2, Issue 15, April 13, 2004
"Bling Bling" Not Deductible, Says IRS
With the filing deadline for federal income tax rapidly approaching, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has taken the unusual step of announcing that it would not be considering any deductions which include "bling bling."
"Let me be perfectly clear," said Myron Starks, assistant executive director of the IRS. "Anyone who lists the costs of purchasing or maintaining bling-bling as a tax deduction might as well write "Audit Me Please" in big red letters on their tax returns."
The term was coined in the late 1990s by the New Orleans rap family Cash Money Millionaires; it refers to diamonds, jewelry, and related showy paraphernelia. Apparently, thousands of people have been claiming such items as business or medical expenses on their tax returns.
"They were able to get away with it because no one at the IRS knew what it meant," said H&R Block tax consultant Gloria Freeman. "The IRS is notoriously insulated from popular culture, and from society in general for that matter. Let's face it: people who frequent nightclubs or watch MTV do not seek employment processing tax returns in a government cubicle."
The deductions were popular in part because bling bling is extremely expensive.
"Real bling bling costs you," said said Cash Money rapper BG. "The NBA championship ring for the Los Angeles Lakers had the word 'bling bling' written in diamonds on it. Basically, if you can use it to buy a car or something, it's the real deal."
With pressure to spend thousands on gaudy trinkets encrusted with multiple carats of diamonds, many have felt significant financial strain as a result.
"Well, people have tried to deduct everything from liposuction to Mexican hairless chihuahuas; so it's not surprising to see the same trend with expensive jewelry," noted Freeman. "Typically it takes the IRS years to catch on, especially when slang is involved. I am surprised they caught on to this so quickly."
The popular tax deduction was undone by the newly responsive Oxford English Dictionary (OED). Generally considered the most authoritative source on the English language, the OED used to take decades to update its twenty volumes and officially recognize new words. Now, however, it maintains an online presence which is updated continuously. An entry for bling bling was added to the OED at the end of April 2003.
"Boy were we surprised," said Starks, a subscriber to the OED. "It makes us wonder what other pop culture terms are being used to disguise inappropriate deductions." As a result, the IRS has made reading the OED in its entirety mandatory for all IRS employees.
"Go on: invent all the hip slang you want," warned Starks. "The hipper you are, the harder we'll be looking at you."