My father once told me that during his Army basic training at Fort Dix, N.J., in the early 1950s, his platoon was, on one blistering July day, preparing to embark on a 10-mile hike when his drill sergeant barked out that if there were any plumbers in the barracks who wished to volunteer for a special job, they could sidestep the grueling maneuvers. About four or five hands shot up, and those smirking volunteers were quickly led away to perform their anointed task - cleaning out the clogged latrine pipes.It was at that moment that he gleaned a life-long lesson about volunteering at a time when it seems too good to be true.

While on the subject of curious times to volunteer, the Internal Revenue Service recently outlined a strategy to help shrink the oft-mentioned tax gap, which currently hovers at roughly $290 billion.

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