Monday, March 22, 2010

Assess Thyself

The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax.

Albert Einstein
Being a retired fellow with no income except social security nd pensions, my income tax is fairly simple these days. That was not always the case. During my career I was performing all around the country. The theatre companies, recording studios and film companies were located in different states and when tax time came I had to file in all of them.

I had an accountant in the Empire State Building in New York City. Every year I took all my receipts and records up to his office in the lofty heights and left them with him. To do it myself would have been an impossibility, not only because of all the various forms from everywhere, but even more because of the ever changing tax laws and regulations in all those places. Soon I would get in the mail a large envelope filled with documents to sign and addresses to write checks to. I don't know how he did it.

I have come to see that the income tax is as much a subjective business as any thing else. What should be a precise and dependable system is open to interpretation and that includes the IRS itself, evidently.

One year a reporter for a New York newspaper, noting that the IRS will figure out your Federal Income Tax for you, took his records to the IRS offices in all five boroughs of New York to have them figure it out. He got five different results. The IRS was not pleased when he published that.

Some people do try to cheat on their taxes. There's no question about that. But there are also many cases in which people could save themselves money if they knew about and understood their rights. That's why it's a good thing to have a professional help us with the job, and hope that the pro can understand it.

Once I filed my taxes on April 15. I was in New York at a large post office. I stood in line for over an hour. I vowed I would never do that again. One other time I arrived at the post office on the last day, because I had been out of town. I saw a long line of very unhappy looking people. I went to the stamp machine and bought more stamps than was necessary, stuck them on the envelop and put it in the slot. I'd be dammed if I was going to stand in that line just to save a dollar.

I consider filing my taxes an aggravating but necessary interruption in the possible harmony of my life. So I get it done as quickly as I can to save myself the anxiety and bother.

If you haven't done your taxes yet, get to it. It may be difficult and complicated for you. But if Albert Einstein had difficulty understanding his taxes you're in good company.

(This is not a contest.)

In your opinion what is the most amazing thing that could happen during this decade? Make it as outrageous as you want but keep it within the realm of what you consider a possibility.

2 responses so far.

Answers will be published the first day of Summer.

DB - The Vagabond
Starting today I'm collecting the Brian stories into one journal The Brian Saga They will be in his chronological order from his youngest days (The Little Black Disk) to his oldest (Brian and Christine). They will appear gradually as I get them written and edited.



Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Got federal refund last week :o)

Nance said...

Internal consistency is always nice, so I'll go with tax law reform that creates "a precise and dependable system." When I opened my own practice in the nineties, my first accountant wanted me to "hire" my kids and take advantage of every other questionable other words, he expected I'd demand what most of his business owners demanded. I told him to work it up without the lies and I'd pay what I owed. I slept better that way. I'd sleep even better if I could easily file for myself.

Arlene (AJ) said...

Accounting was my expertise in the business world so guess who has done the taxes at our home from day one....not a fun time, but thankfully done and in the mail for 2009. Glad that annual ordeal is done, lol.