April 14, 2007

Come commiserate.

Surely, I'm not alone spending the Saturday slogging through taxes. It's much, much easier with TurboTax, but still...

21 comments:

XWL said...

Do you have Flat Tax Fever yet?

Imagine if all you needed to do tonight was total all your annual income and divide by five.

Simple, elegant, and fair, all things the current system are not.

Eli Blake said...

XWL:

No, I don't. I'm quite happy with the tax system being the way it is. People who are on the lower end of the scale need more of what they make just to survive (in fact, I'm all for the EIC to help them do that, even though I'm way out of the range for it.) Kids and mortgage interest, just to give a couple of examples, cost more, so there should be deductions for it. And imagine what a big hit charities would take if there were no 'tax deductible' associated with contributions?

And guess what else? If you make more than I do and we have a graduated tax system, then after taxes you will STILL make more than I do! The higher tax brackets still only apply to your taxes after a cutoff amount below which you are taxed at the previous rate.

In fact, I love seeing how much I pay in taxes every year-- it's a measure of how much I'm making.

Mark the Pundit said...

Well, better now than never I suppose!

By the way, are you one of the millions being pit through AMT hell? Count me in as a flat-tax man, regardless of what Eli Blake may argue. :-)

kimsch said...

finished mine earlier - turbo tax.

Larry said...

Why don't you just get an accountant? It's a relative bargain, and it's tax-deductable at that.

Adam said...

This February, I was newly broken up with my boyfriend. So I did my taxes after work on Valentines Day. Insult to injury, huh?.

PatCA said...

No, you're not alone. Just finished mine. Not helped at all by the broken wrist and the hacking cough.

I'm holding them responsible for every penny!

Joe said...

No, you're not alone. But I get paid to do it. I'll start my own on Tuesday sometime.

Joe said...

And yes, checking Althouse while I'm working is one of my guilty pleasures...

Mark the Pundit said...

And yes, checking Althouse while I'm working is one of my guilty pleasures...

It's all about the vortex...

James Wigderson said...

The advantage of being married, my wife is doing our taxes.

Two quotes to cheer you up:

"Just what is the standard deduction for watermelons?"
- Gallagher

"Be wary of strong drink. It may make you shoot at tax collectors - and miss." - Robert Heinlein

blake said...

Every year on January 1st, I get all hopped up to do my taxes. By the time all the paperwork has come in February, I've lost all interest.

But I did get it done 3 weeks ago.

I've been "rich" and currently I'm "poor" ("rich" is better). I get confused a lot about which is which because Bush's tax cuts really helped me (but I thought they were for the "rich"?).

This year, my income tax burden was due almost entirely to $900 made as a freelance writer. The government hates the self-employed.

Social Security on the other hand is brutal. Actually regressive. (I'll never forget my first real paycheck where I had request no tax be withheld and yet 10% of my check was gone, while it was insisted that no part of my check was being withheld.)

Meanwhile, I cringe because I know that the little extra money I make this year will take me out of the mostly non-tax-paying category and probably back into the "rich" category where half of the extra $20K I make will go to the gov't.

Unlike Eli, my inclination is simply to not make that money.

Kirk Parker said...

What on earth is with you people doing your taxes today? Don't you have all Sunday for that???

John Kindley said...

For those who consider Adam Smith a Doctor of the Capitalist Church, here's an appropriate quote from the Wealth of Nations:

"If direct taxes upon the wages of labour have not always occasioned a proportionable rise in those wages, it is because they have generally occasioned a considerable fall in the demand for labour. The declension of industry, the decrease of employment for the poor, the diminution of the annual produce of the land and labour of the country, have generally been the effects of such taxes. In consequence of them, however, the price of labour must always be higher than it otherwise would have been in the actual state of the demand: and this enhancement of price, together with the profit of those who advance it, must always be finally paid by the landlords and consumers. . . .
Absurd and destructive as such taxes are, however, they take place in many countries."

In my view, the proposition that no one should pay any tax on those fruits of one's own labor that are necessary to establish and maintain a decent and reasonably secure standard of living (i.e., roughly, on income up to the U.S. household mean income), or consumption taxes on those goods and services consistent with the same, rises to the level of a natural right.

I would be fine with a flat tax so long as it incorporated a standard deduction conforming with the above principle. For most of our country's history (up until WWII), only the very richest (if anyone) paid income tax, and our present confiscatory taxes on the modest incomes of lower and middle class citizens would have been unthinkable (particularly for the Founders, who were none too accepting of unjust taxes).

John Kindley said...

The most cynical part of me, aided and abetted by the cynicism long wafting out of Washington, strongly suspects that our current tax policies are motivated by the following perennial economic "principle," as expressed by the following in the history "The Worldly Philosophers" by Robert L. Heilbroner:

"The new philosophy [in the eighteenth century] brought with it a new social problem: how to keep the poor poor. It was generally admitted that unless the poor were poor, they could not be counted upon to do an honest day's toil without asking for exorbitant wages. 'To make the Society Happy . . ., it is requisite that great numbers should be Ignorant as well as Poor,' wrote Bernard Mandeville, the shrewdest and wickedest social commentator of the early eighteenth century."

Translation: If no one is desperate (and economically unfree), who will man our McDonalds?

vet66 said...

I found out years ago that my accountant was using TurboTax. It is so easy, a 'caveman could do it!" and I save the $175 he was charging me.

The secret to it is to organize your receipts throughout the year. I recommend Quicken also. Let the computer balance your checkbood and pay your recurring bills. I suspect that in the future TurboTax will prepare a basic 1040 based on Quicken/Bill Pay etc. that we can then tweak and be done with in an hour.

Money well spent and it is tax deductible.

Synova said...

I think that our taxes took a single page this year, at the most two. Certainly compared to many people doing them ourselves would have been trivial.

But we paid to have someone else do them. We sat there the whole time. Wouldn't have taken any longer to do them ourselves, filling in the blanks on a computer program just like the accountant did. And we paid and sure we could have used the money.

But if we'd done that I *would* have been doing it yesterday and today. Because I'd have been doing that avoidance thing just like everyone else.

We got ours done in January. The day after we got the W-2.

Neener neener.

;-)

Jeff said...

Kirk, I am with you brother. I am planning on doing my taxes tonight. Probably. Wonder what's on tv? Sopranos? I can't get all excited about it as eli blake does. Right around tax time I enjoy looking at the pork spending. Makes me warm and fuzzy knowing that I would have to pay the same amount I am this year for another 9200 years to equal what the government is paying peanut farmers to store their peanuts for 2007.

Kev said...

I did mine quite a while ago, as I knew I was due for a big refund. (As an educator who teaches both at a college--where taxes are taken out--and as an independent contractor in a public school system--where I'm considered self-employed--I have a foot in both worlds. As I've found over the years, the secret to balancing these worlds is to have a whole bunch of extra tax taken out of the college job.)

I ran my numbers past my accountant (who goes by "Dad" the rest of the year) over spring break, and my refund was magically direct-deposited into my savings at the beginning of the week. But if it had been one of those years where I owed tax, I wouldn't be mailing the forms off until tomorrow.

Theo Boehm said...

I blame TurboTax for the demise of yet another great American tradition: the April 15th community social at the local Post Office.

How I miss the mail clerks lined up at the sidewalk to grab envelopes from drive-by taxpayers; the crowd of bleary-eyed procrastinators desperately pawing through disorganized piles looking for a fresh Schedule C; the 5-gallon percolators of weak coffee helpfully but departmentally brewed by Postal employees; the mixed feelings of superiority and compassion for some poor schlub who has just figured out that he owes the IRS $1169.70, and has $83.49 remaining in his bank account from last week's paycheck; the feeling of exultation as one completes the return, stuffs it into the envelope, licks it, and hands it to the clerk at 11:53, heading out into the April night, breathing the cool air of freedom and joy.

Now we sit, disembodied, faced by the flat panel's cool geometry, silently, unsocially answering robot questions, typing numbers and pushing buttons. The cup on the table contains green tea or some Sumatra we got last week at Peet's. No aluminum-flavored institutional brew for us. No rubbing elbows in a crush of people.

And we go to our favorite blog to talk about it.

PatCA said...

Theo,
That still happens...lot of people are like me, we don't file electronically. Why give them quicker access to your money and make it easier for audits, we all as paying a fee to e-file!