Tattoos Find Favor Among Busy CPAs at Tax Time

CHICAGO.  Sheryl Wilkins, a senior tax manager at a mid-sized accounting firm, is dreading next month’s tax filing crunch.

“It ruins your life,” she says.  “You put on weight from the late-night pizza and you get wrinkles from lack of sleep.”  So she’s preparing with a body modification she hopes will make her more efficient–tattooing the tax code on her arms.

“1031 like-kind exchanges?  I’ll have your answer in a jiffy!”


“I waste a lot of time running back and forth, looking things up,” she notes.  “If somebody’s checked the code out of the library, you have to go back to your computer and search the IRS website, but I get distracted by the pop-up ads and end up shopping at”

“Except as provided in subsection (b), gross income does not include interest on any State or local bond.”

Once confined to marginal subcultures such as carnival workers, sailors and rappers, tattoos are increasingly viewed by professionals as a way to boost productivity.  “I get all kinds of white-collar types in here,” says Miki “Inkgirl” Gargiulo of Wicked Tattoos on the city’s North Side.  “They don’t want simple-minded ‘Mom’ or ‘Semper Fi’ tats.  They’re knowledge workers in the information economy, so I can charge them more than some punk from Evanston who just wants ‘Kurt Cobain Died for Your Sins’ on his bicep.”

Sheryl’s specialty is corporate tax, so she asks Gargiulo to inscribe Internal Revenue Code Subchapter C, Corporate Distributions, on her left arm, and Subchapter N, Tax based on income from sources within or without the United States, on her right.  “That’s my favorite,” she says as she winces a bit from the sting of the needle.

“Section 1369?  I thought you said Section 1693!”


Her co-workers say they will use Sheryl as a resource once the painstaking task has been completed.  “I’m always forgetting things,” her colleague Jim Visback notes with a laugh.  “Like, does a contribution to capital satisfy section 118 of the Code if it’s expended for the acquisition or construction of tangible property described in section 1231(b)–or is it the other way around?”  Visback says he hopes Wilkins will have particularly important provisions of the tax code tattooed on her neck, so he can refer to them even when she wears a long-sleeved blouse or sweater to work.

Maori accountant

Tattoos were invented by the Maoris, a Polynesian aboriginal group native to New Zealand.  Maori tribal leader Nga Tamatoa said he is pleased that busy CPA’s have adopted his tribe’s traditional technique to deal with the complexity of America’s tax code.  “Since Sheryl’s an accountant I’ve got no problem with that,” he said.  “If she were a lawyer it’d be different.”

Available in Kindle format on as part of the collection “Death, Taxes–and More Taxes.”

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