Million Mustache March: fighting for a tax break?
Sunday, thousands of mustachioed men and their supporters marched on Washington in solidarity for a tax break for mustache-grooming supplies. But was the “million mustache march” a real event or a hoax? Should clean-shaven male taxpayers ‘stache up now to reduce their taxes in the current year? Should some female taxpayers forgo electrolysis?
The ‘STACHE Act
Late last month the American Mustache Institute announced the Million Mustache March for April 1, designed to pressure Congress to give its support to the Stimulus To Allow Critical Hair Expenses, or the “‘STACHE Act.”
Under the act — authored by John Yeutter, a professor of tax accounting at Northwestern State University, and endorsed by H&R Block — taxpayers with upper-lip hirsute adornment should be entitled to a $250 yearly tax deduction to offset expenses for mustache-grooming products. According to Yeutter, Congress has previously enacted tax incentive legislation for segments of society that contribute to the growth of the economy. Yeutter argued, in a white paper that Fox News called “surprisingly cogent,” that mustachioed men make such contributions
Real or a hoax?
But is the “‘STACHE Act” a reality or a hoax? MSNBC commentator Dylan Ratigan said on his show last month:
“It’s gotten so bad in America, that someone has actually put in a piece of legislation to create a $250 tax credit in the event that you grow a mustache … Before we judge, let us not misunderstand the potential power in our society were more men to have mustaches.”
The ‘STACHE Act might have died laughing if it hadn’t been for U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md. His office received a copy of Yeutter’s white paper, and then passed it on to the House Ways and Means Committee for study. That gave it an aura of legitimacy.
The fact is, there is no such legislation pending, and the fact that the march occurred on April Fool’s day is no coincidence.
The American Mustache Institute
The American Mustache Institute is the brainchild of St. Louis-based adman Aaron Perlut, 40. He said of the effort:
“We wanted people to question: Is this thing real or not? And a lot of people have said, ‘Do you think it’s real?’ So that’s been kind of fascinating.”
H&R Block is a client
One of the main supporters of the Act is H&R Block, a client of Perlut’s firm. While the tax-prep giant acknowledged that the act was meant as parody, its support helps to knock some of the stodgy dust off the company’s image.
Scott Gulbransen, director of social media for H&R Block, said:
“[the ‘Stache Act] has helped us connect with younger customers. It’s an opportunity to show that we have a sense of humor and that we don’t take ourselves so seriously.”
Mustaches united for good
However, the movement behind the faux-legislation, started in jest, does pursue some legitimately altruistic concerns. Perlut pointed to the case of Sebastiam Pham, a student who appealed to the Institute when his high school demanded he shave his mustache:
“Sebastian asked us for help and we advocated on his behalf. We got the policy overturned.”
On April 1, the AMI partnered up with Millions for One, a group that supplies clean drinking water to poverty-stricken communities around the world. H&R Block also joined in, vowing to donate up to $10,000 to the cause.
Permut said of the collaboration:
“We liked their goal of raising funds to dig wells in Africa, and wanted to help. We also liked the alliterative way that ‘Millions From One’ went with our ‘Million Mustache March.'”
A successful march
The march went off without a hitch Sunday, with mustachioed police officers proudly protecting the protesters as they marched. Some of the slogans heard echoing through the streets of Washington D.C. on the first of April:
“Occupy the upper lip!”
“Don’t filibuster our cookie dusters!”
“Support our ‘staches! Shave our taxes!”
“It’s there! It’s hair! Get over it!”