Showing 1 - 7 of 7 posts found matching keyword: taxes

Taxes are due tomorrow, which means that many, many Americans are knee-deep in financial stress and frustration. Somehow, Atlanta's NPR station, 90.1 WABE, has selected this week for its spring membership drive. I'd say that's some terrible timing, but I guess WABE needs to pay taxes, too.

Sorry, NPR. I'm down about $5,000 right now. Will you take a rain check? Because Uncle Sam sure won't.

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The Washington Post, soon to be the property of Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos (you'd think if anyone knew that no one reads newspapers anymore, it'd be Bezos), reports that people are more more inclined to buy lottery tickets at stores that have previously sold winning tickets.

Stop and think about that for a minute. The people who are willing to give someone their money in the hopes of collecting something for nothing think that they will have better odds playing at a place where someone else already won even though the concept is easily disproven by empirical data. Yeah, that sounds about right.

It seems that we should be able to exploit this information. American hate paying income taxes; recent polls indicate that at least half of all Americans think their taxes are too high. But lottery jackpots frequently approach $100 million, 10 times the lifetime earnings of the average American. Obviously, many of these same malcontents who have a problem paying the government have no problem throwing away their earnings on empty dreams. (The odds of winning a Mega Millions jackpot is about 1 in 175 million. Being struck by lighting is 1 in 500 thousand.)

Maybe the IRS, which is desperate to recover its good name (ha!) after treating Tea Partiers like Wesley Snipes for the past few years, should consider just telling the people that if they give the government some of their money, they might just get a multi-million dollar tax return next year. The winner will be so pleased to win, he probably won't even care that he'll have to pay half his winnings back to the government.

The best part of this plan is that once there is a winner, everyone else will willingly come back year after year to keep giving the IRS more and more of their money. You're welcome, IRS.

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The IRS has apparently found a way to raise money without actually raising taxes. I don't know what the IRS calls this process, but the common term for it is extortion.

I just received in the mail a letter from the IRS dated August 13, 2012. The letter is essentially a bill for "unpaid taxes" in the amount of $19.28. I already wrote the IRS one check back in April, but it seems that wasn't enough. Somehow, the IRS suspects that I have money I haven't given them yet. I knew those traffic cameras were up to no good!

The letter doesn't say why I owe an additional $19.28, or how they came to the calculation that I owed an additional $19.28. It just says, "If you don't pay $19.28 by August 23, 2012, interest will increase and additional penalties may apply. If you don't pay your tax debt, we have the right to seize ('levy') your property." Why bother with the carrot when you already have a stick, huh, IRS?

And here's the point: I'm going to pay it. Sure, I could write the IRS and ask why they are hassling me for a sawbuck, but I'm not going to. That would take more time than it will take me to earn an additional $20 to pay this bill. Therein lies the genius of their plan.

If they sent this letter to the supposed half of the United States population that filed income tax returns in 2012, everyone would pay it just to not be bothered taking the time and effort to challenge it. The IRS would add a windfall of $3 billion to its coffers. While that may not be enough to pay for Obamacare or whittle down the U.S.'s bloated deficit, $3 billion will still buy the Pentagon at least a couple of hammers.

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Like most people not expecting a tax refund, I just finished my income tax filing. This year I had to pay taxes. Not because I made a lot of money, mind you. My gross income was well below the national poverty line. Granted, "poverty" in the United States is a pretty relative term when compared to incomes around the world. So while I may not be "poor" in the Slumdog Millionaire sense of the word, I'm not going to be helping the U.S. out of a recession any time in the near future, either.

The national poverty line of the United States is defined as the annual income required for the average American to sustain his own basic needs. In 2008, this has been estimated at about $11,200. (Yet more proof that I am not average.) Comparing this number to the median income of American citizens, about $27,000 according to the World Salaries Group, you can see where I fit in. My income is closer to that of the average citizen of Russia. (Who won the Cold War? Not me.)

Our friendly U.S. Government graciously allows a single citizen who earns a "gross income" of less than $8,950 to bypass filing taxes. (Presumably, this is the threshold where the income tax rate overcomes government subsidy. You can't get blood -- or taxes -- from a stone.) Sadly, I qualify.

"Not so fast," cries my Uncle Sam. Because in 2008 I tried to earn income as a self-employed graphic/website designer, I am required to file taxes so that I can pay the government the "self-employment" tax used to sustain my Social Security and Medicaid benefits. Nuts!

If in 2008 I had worked exclusively for an employer other than myself earning the same amount, my meager income would have been taxed nothing (thanks to the Standard Deduction). The IRS would have refunded whatever my employer had withheld on my behalf, and thanks to the Earned Income Credit established in the 1975 (the year of my birth -- someone must have known I was coming!), the government would have paid me money to help offset my relative poverty. But alas, that is an alternative history. Instead, I made more than $400 for myself on my own terms, and now I'm paying for it. Literally.

Well, I've learned my lesson. Working for myself has cost me money. From now on, I'll only do toadie work for someone else or do no work at all. So employers, if you're interested in hiring a talented fool who will work for peanuts -- and I mean actual peanuts: I'm hungry, and I just gave my last dollars to the government -- I'm your lackey.

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New York Governor David Paterson has proposed an 18% "obesity tax" on soft drink sales in New York state. The American Beverage Association objects ('natch), claiming that this tax will put the squeeze on the middle class. ("In an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on hardworking families." -ameribev.org )

Let's say I consume a single 2-liter Coca-Cola every 2 days. That's 180 2-liters per year. (Don't judge me.) At $1.50 per 2-liter, that's $270 I spend on Coke per year. I already pay 7% sales tax for Coke, meaning that $270 of Coke costs me $288.90. If I were forced to pay an additional 18% tax on top of that, those 180 Cokes cost $337.50, a nearly $50 increase over the course of a year. (That's a lot more than I spend on comic books these days.)

Even in these hardscrabble times, that's not really a lot of money. And I drink a LOT of Coke. (Don't judge me.) How many families in New York consume as much soft drink per person as I do? Turns out that according to the National Soft Drink Association, the national average is somewhere near 105 2-liters per American per year. For the average New Yorker (at, say 1700 Broadway in Manhattan, the home of DC Comics) paying a sales tax of 8.375% on that same $1.50 Coke, they'll be paying $199.04 instead of $170.69, an annual difference of about $30.

Needless to say, ABA, I don't think this will break the back of New Yorkers. And the number is so low, that it is unlikely to really discourage that many obese middle class buyers. (Though I do think of my dad, who won't buy any 2-liter soft drink at a cost greater than $1.00, because "the price was never that high when I was a kid!")

But don't take this article as me supporting the government involving itself in my buying habits on the grounds that it knows better than I do what's good for me. I'm the guy that opposes seat belt laws, remember? If I want to get too fat from sipping sugary beverages to be thrown to my death from my car in an accident, I think that's my right!. And I'll let the ABA use that argument if they think it will help them.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go to work saving my life by pouring another Coke.

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$300 spends good.I received my Congressionally-approved $300 of Economic Stimulus yesterday alongside my income tax refund.

I've given a lot of thought about how to spend it. I decided to donate the sum to a presidential candidate's campaign fund.

No, I'm kidding. That'd be throwing my money away. I'm spending it on lottery tickets.

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Death and taxes? Not if you're a superhero: then it's just taxes.

Superman never accepts rewards for performing hundreds of thousands of good deeds each year. Not only is it ethically questionable to do so, he would no doubt have trouble with the United States government Internal Revenue Service if he did. Each of those "gifts" could be considered taxable income if they were given in exchange for services, such as saving a life or preventing property loss. Hopefully, mild-mannered newspaper reporters earn enough to keep the Man of Steel in fresh pairs of tights.

Oh, silly Booster! [insert laughtrack here]

Booster Gold, a hero who uses his identity for merchandising opportunities, was once arrested for income tax evasion. This was an especially tricky situation for Gold, for as a time-traveler, he had no birth certificate, Social Security Number, or even finger prints on record. He was only extricated from the situation because he had very recently saved the president's life and cashed in a few political favors to earn a tax identification number and honorary American citizenship. Remember, kiddies, it's always who you know, not what you know.

When the Justice League was sponsored (and bankrolled) by the United Nations in the 1980s, Batman, Captain Marvel, and Dr. Fate were forced to quit the team. Although each gave a different reason at the time, they all had very secret identities to maintain and would have had to reveal those identities to their handlers in order to receive the United Nations stipend. All of the remaining heroes on the team were more casual with their secret identities (generally they had less at stake) and were no doubt pleased to be receiving some pay, even at the cost of compromising their secret lives.

Makes you wonder if it's worth saving the world if you're going to have to save your receipts, doesn't it?

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To be continued...

 

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