You probably won’t be laughing if you’re scrambling to finish your income tax return before the April 15 deadline. But Deroy Murdock devotes his latest column to some of the “humor” surrounding the 74,000-page tax code.

The Tax Code’s treatment of gambling is a hall of mirrors. IRS Form 730 covers “excise taxes for both legal and illegal wagers of certain types. For state authorized wagers placed with bookmakers and lottery operators there is a tax of 0.25% of the wager, if it is legal. If the wager is not legal, the tax is 2% of the wager.” So, one must pay legal federal taxes on gambling revenues obtained illegally under state law. According to [University of Florida law professor Steven J.] Willis:

I’ve seen so many charities hold raffles. In Florida, such a thing is legal only if conducted by a particular type of charity and also only if the charity charges nothing for the raffle tickets. It may request a donation, but if someone asks for a free ticket, it must be provided free. . . . Under Chapter 496 of the Florida Statutes (under which all charities must register with the Department of Agriculture), soliciting a contribution while committing a crime is a third-degree felony. I suspect none of the charities that conduct such raffles have a federal illegal gambling permit, and I suspect none pay the illegal gambling tax. So, add on at least two counts of tax fraud to that, and we have multiple felonies every time a school band has a raffle.

Willis adds: “I once saw a school raffle a basket of wine and fruit. It lacked a liquor license, so add that crime. A minor won the raffle, so add providing alcohol to minors.”

The Tax Code defines contest thusly: “A contest is any competition involving speed, skill, endurance, popularity, politics, strength, or appearance, such as elections, the outcome of nominating conventions, dance marathons, log-rolling contests, wood-chopping contests, weightlifting contests, beauty contests, and spelling bees.”

Log rolling? Wood chopping? This gets deep into Monty Python territory. They’re lumberjacks, and they’re okay!