The title of this post refers to a wonderful book of manners, “How to Behave, and Why” and I’m thinking about that particularly because we tell ourselves that we shouldn’t lie. We especially shouldn’t lie to the government. Not only is it not right thought nor right action nor right speech to lie, but it could get you into real trouble. And yet, I’m here today to tell you about a time when you really, really, should lie to the government.
When creating a user account at the Franchise Tax Board website, one is asked to provide security questions and answers which will be used for user name and password recovery. Note that the account is used to get tax information and to make tax payments. Pretty sensitive stuff. And yet, one is not permitted by the website to choose one’s own questions. One must select from a list of questions provided by the State. The list includes questions whose true answers would be easy enough to figure out just by looking at, say, one’s Facebook profile (what high school did you attend, what was the high school’s mascot, in what year did you graduate from high school, etc.).
The answer here is to lie like crazy, or even just make up gibberish and then write it down and put the questions and answers somewhere safe – a fire safe, for example. The government’s computer doesn’t care if you tell the truth, and you certainly care that nobody else has access to your tax records.