Fribble A Twist on an Adage

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By James A. Boa (
October 25, 2000

This is a term that has risen on the Tax Strategies board, and I, JABoa, may be permitted, or required, to take either the credit or the blame.

It started with the old proverb, "There is no sense beating a dead horse." What I thought about was the reverse: "You can't beat a dead horse too often." Whether somebody else had the idea before me I do not know. Anyhow, the idea is that the dead horse, being dead, doesn't care very much if you beat him.

The analogy for the Tax Strategies board is that tax questions are complicated. People ask questions, and they don't say what they mean to say, or they don't say what they should have said, or their messages are just unclear. The responses from the paid TMFs, TMFTaxes and TMFExRO, and also from the other pros such as criser, edcosoft, TheBadger, ptheland, TaxService, and others I have neglected, are excellent. One might think that is the end of it. BUT, there can be ambiguities and things that are left unclear, both in the questions and the answers.

So, an original question may take as many as four go-arounds until it is settled to everyone's understanding. I figure each go-around represents two beatings of the dead horse. He's now Dobbin, and as I said before, he is dead and doesn't care if you flog him. I don't know if you could clone the poor cyber-equine for other boards. But perhaps you could, if ultimate clarity were the object. Dead Dobbin speaks: "Yes, I am dead, but being flogged all the time makes me say Ouch. Do I like it that JABoa thought me up? Neiggghh!"

The moral: keep asking. There are many people of good will and great competence on the site who will try to answer you, and as the questions are better understood, so do the answers become better. But, anything on a free site is not equal to professional advice on technical topics that you pay money for. If you did anything on wills, estates, and trusts, for example, without legal help, you'd be a total dunderhead. What this site can do is provide you with the proper questions to ask, answers to check the professional advice against, and possibly some horrible examples to avoid.