Monday, January 14, 2013

The Dance

"You.. can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes! You can be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes! You say.. 'Steve.. how can I be a millionaire.. and never pay taxes?' First.. get a million dollars. Now.. you say, "Steve.. what do I say to the tax man when he comes to my door and says, 'You.. have never paid taxes'?" Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: 'I forgot!' How many times do we let ourselves get into terrible situations because we don't say 'I forgot'? Let's say you're on trial for armed robbery. You say to the judge, 'I forgot armed robbery was illegal.' Let's suppose he says back to you, 'You have committed a foul crime. you have stolen hundreds and thousands of dollars from people at random,' and you say, 'I forgot'?' Two simple words: Excuuuuuse me!!"
That would be one way to explain the tax code. In the spirit of what is just and fair, President Obama raised taxes on the wealthiest Americans, but that doesn't mean that they will be paying them. Income taxes, anyway. Forty-six percent of Americans in 2011 (Forty-seven percent 2010) didn’t pay federal income tax because they took credits and deductions for things like, going to school, retirement savings plans, childcare and mortgages. Wait a minute. I had a kid in 2011. I went to school. I had a mortgage. I even had a retirement savings plan, though you might not know it since it continued to trickle away in spite of my best efforts. Why was I paying taxes?
Maybe it's because I am too busy to find the loopholes and exclusions that would limit or eliminate my need to give money back to the government. What usually happens is my wife and I spend some time rounding up our receipts and forms and then she runs them all through the Turbo Tax machine. When all is said and done, we get a little bit back from the Feds, and pay a little bit to the state. It's an amusing balancing act that makes the passing of the seasons more apparent. Like Groundhog Day or Lincoln's Birthday, on which we remember the guy who came up with all this income tax in the first place. 

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