Helping You Choke Down Your Annual Blue Pill Since 2007
If you’re anything like me, it’s been less than 48 hours since you mailed your taxes. Maybe you like to make the IRS get all suited up in their riot gear before giving them what they want. Maybe if we’re lucky, putting that stuff on and taking it off will lead to some chafing in a few sensitive areas, and that will be our payback.
Of course being a government agency, it would be months or even years before the IRS missed the money we were supposed to pay them, if in fact like me you needed to pay them. If instead they owe you, then you just made an interest-free loan to the United States government, and I’m certain that congress appreciates it and they were extra careful to be sure your money went to sensible, responsible causes that you agree with. With me, the delay is two parts procrastination and one part stunned inaction when I realized exactly how much being self-employed cost me. Seriously, the final number rang my bell so hard I spent the weekend stumbling around in a kind of daze: First Kurt Vonnegut passes away, and now I am paying enough taxes to fund the upcoming invasion of Iran myself. It took a screening of the Aqua Teen Hunger Force movie to convince me that the world made sense again, and if that’s not a cry for help, I don’t know what is.
It’s the third paragraph, and it’s time I got to the point, and the point is, I don’t feel qualified to contest the government’s right to my money, even if I am often appalled by what they choose to do with it. Also, since this is a sci-fi website, I’ll toss in that taxes are mentioned twice in the original Matrix. Taxes come up because they are the ultimate reacharound in our compliance with the world pulled over our eyes. We are being fucked every day (and not in the good way), and we pay for the privilege.
One reason I put up with it, is because even if I had the stones to disengage myself from my government-issued comfort zone that I know is little more than a series of tubes jammed into my body to turn me into a microscopic cog in this catastrophic plan called America, I’d hardly know where to begin. I mean, I use America’s roads and count on America’s laws to keep me more or less safe, and by accepting the good I’m also in for the parts I don’t like: be it regime changes, ignoring Dufar, aggressively warming the planet or gun laws that may be just a touch too lax. (Side note: My MSW spell checker doesn’t recognize Dufar, and I guess that’s a bug that’s quickly becoming a feature). I’m certain that anyone, anywhere can find things that their government does that they find objectionable if not outright immoral, but they still mail their checks every spring just like I do.
In any case, none of us can pick and choose what our tax dollars support. If we learned anything from the Will Ferrell film ‘Stranger than Fiction,’ it’s that selectively paying your taxes will result in a visit from an amiable IRS representative, which will in turn lead to hot sex, Dustin Hoffman and being hit by a bus. (Side note #2- Ferrell IS in the spellchecker, as is Dustin. This means something).
More seriously, perhaps I should consider selectively paying my taxes. Look what it did for Henry David Thoreau: He was locked up for refusing to fund the Mexican-American War (see, we’ve been ‘welcomed as liberators’ before), and the one night he spent in jail for non-payment of taxes led to writing ‘Civil Disobedience.’ Later, years on the run from the feds found Henry living in a small cabin in the Walden woods, where he wrote one of the most enduring collections of societal criticism ever. His name is even in my spell checker.
And there’s the little fact that the U.S. income tax is illegal. Seriously. The 13th amendment was never fully ratified. Go ahead, google it- it’s true. When the government taxes your income now, it’s no more legal than if a cop just up and mugged you.
Here’s a few other tax facts that many people may not be aware of:
· Stay in school! Full time students aren’t required to pay taxes. This is reason # 14 in the list of why my decision to finish college was a bad one.
· Let the kids slack! As long as your kid in unemployed, under 18 or attending school full time, it’s a dependent. Let any of those change, and you lose a deduction.
· Keep track of your sales tax! You can deduct the sales tax that you pay in a year. It should be obvious- you already paid taxes on the same money- what, they are going to take you for earning AND spending the same dollar? Only if you don’t do the work! This is the first year I’ve taken this deduction, and while I still had to pay up, it helped me quite a bit.
· In June of last year, after a torrential downpour shut down the IRS offices at 1111 Constitutional Avenue, the IRS moved it’s offices to a federal building Costa Rica. This ‘temporary’ move has apparently become permanent, as 1111 is now used for other purposes.
· The native Alaskan people, the Inuit, had no word for taxation when Alaska was acquired as a U.S. Territory in 1867. When they were (in some instances, forcibly) informed of their new responsibilities to their new government, they chose a word that used to mean having a block of ice jammed up your ass to mean ‘taxes.’
· If you mail your return, don’t use that pre-printed label! The IRS schedules audits randomly, but the list of random taxpayers is drawn from the barcode scans of tax returns as they are processed by machine upon arrival. Returns processed manually are not logged into that database.
I know that much of this advice is coming too late to help you, and that’s important because it’s all bullshit that I gathered off of the internet. Except for the Alaska thing, I made that one up. I also fudged some about Henry David Thoreau.
I hope that all of this proves a point: life is often unbearably complicated and cruel. Taxes, and the government policies they fund and empower, are but one example of a thing forcibly required of us yet many times larger than our capacity to fully understand (I speak not only of the laws, but of the larger question of our role in a society- go read some term papers on The Matrix if you need to know more). This injustice is augmented by countless attempts by other humans, many ill-meaning and outright malevolent, to confound us in attempts to get our money or if that’s not possible, just to hurt or confuse us.
And that’s why I thought of Kurt Vonnegut when I mailed my taxes this year. That dour chain-smoking bastard understood more than we realize.
The Deconstructionist with Gordon Weir is pleased that MSWord recognizes ‘Vonnegut.’