Tuesday, February 03, 2009

I Confess

Whosoever amongst you is without sin can cast the stone on taxes, but it's not going to be me.

Here are the tax sins I've committed (at least the ones I can think of):

- Paid nanny under the table for two years (she wanted the cash).

- Paid several housecleaners under the table (again, they wanted it that way).

- NEVER pay estimated taxes (because I am just too damn lazy, though I do pay it all every year round about April 13).

- Am currently ignoring a tax bill from No Longer Red State Capital City Suburb which seems to expect some kind of payment for the five months we lived there in 2005. They have got to be kidding!

- Used to always screw up our local taxes in No Longer Red State, because of byzantine rules about the relationship between the taxes you pay where you work and where you live (always eventually paid once we got the notice telling us how we'd screwed up).

Taxes are a total pain in the ass. Anyone who says they understand taxes is lying.

And here's the rub: I totally believe in taxes. In fact, I love taxes! Call me un-American or socialist or red or whatever you want, but I think it's just groovy to use my money on stuff that everyone needs, like roads and schools. I always pay my taxes, and I don't even try and ferret out hidden deductions to lessen my taxes. (I know this paragraph sounds all ironic and attitudinal, but it is truly heartfelt, and I've been saying it for years.)

So my tax offenses have nothing to do with trying not to pay taxes, and everything to do with the fact that life is complicated, and, well, sometimes being perfect on the tax front just isn't my highest priority. Especially since I realized long ago that I could never withstand the scrutiny attendant on running for political office (see: youthful indiscretions).

I'm sure a lot of these politicians with tax problems were trying to get away with something, but doesn't the fact that so many politicians have tax problems suggest that maybe there is as much wrong with the taxes as there is with the politicians? (And I'm not just saying this because they're Democrats.)

Update: Looks like Daschle's gone, which just sucks. He is a good guy.

And more: Looks like the experts basically agree with me. (And I always wonder why these are the posts that nobody comments on--am I just so brilliant that everyone is nodding and clicking to the next blog, or am I totally off base, or does nobody else get enraged about this shit?)


Unknown said...

I'm nodding-- I don't understand taxes, am sure I have broken tax laws, but absolutely believe in paying them and am unsure why tax mistakes disqualify someone from being government secretary of oversight or whatever.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I agree with you. Taxes are complicated, and getting them right is a low priority in my life. And yet, I am perfectly happy to pay taxes.

Phantom Scribbler said...

I'm nodding along. But I wish we could do away with the meme that Real Americans™ hate taxes. Someone I know on FB had a status, not more than a week ago, about going to the school to demand full services for her special-need kids. Today she was complaining about having to pay her auto excise tax. Um.

Libby said...

I agree with you, too. I pay, and I'm sure I make mistakes. And I think what this might prove is that it's time to make the tax laws make sense. BUT (and it's a big but) these guys are in the public eye, have been for years, and can afford the best tax lawyers and accountants out there. They should not be making mistakes. I actually do think they're cheating, and I'm way less sorry to see Daschle go than, say, Zoe Baird.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to go out on a limb and say you used to live in Cary, NC. Just a guess. I used to live there. Just not my kind of place!

I happily pay higher taxes here because the school system works pretty darn well right now for my son who has autism.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree (and David does too--we were just having this conversation at dinner) AND I hope Obama finds someone who can lead health reform with the same zeal that Daschle seemed to have (tho I'm biased.)

Anonymous said...

Taxes can be complicated, yes, but the "mistakes" Daschle and Geitner made were not. They were obvious tax cheats.

Jody said...

Well, I guess I'm going to be the anxious and unhappy voice of disagreement.

I do think there's a difference between always getting tangled up in the complicated tax code and weird locality jurisdictional issues, and paying a nanny or housekeeper under the table. I don't have a housekeeper in part because I would feel obliged to bear the higher costs of paying her with full documentation, and it makes me sort of peeved that so many people (all my neighbors, for example) are so indifferent to the rules. I mean, it would be nice if my employers had paid me in unreported cash, too.

And I think both Geithner and Daschle were finessing the tax code, and they knew it, and once again we have politicians and powerful people caught up in their own arrogance, the foolish belief that they won't get caught. And $124K in unpaid taxes is just ridiculous, and to try to call it a mistake is a complete insult to my intelligence. Which seems like a powerful disqualification right there -- I don't want someone who thinks I'm an idiot designing my new health-insurance scheme.

And I think this story highlights, too, the difference between people who only ever get W-2s, and people with all sorts of income/expense situations that the vast majority of [working/middle-class people] never do.

I don't understand the tax code, and thank God we never had to deal with local-tax issues, but I'll tell you this: I've never failed to report any tax income. I even report the money Amazon.com sends me for their associates program. And it bothers me, A LOT, that powerful people like Geithner can't be bothered to do the same.

Kelly said...

taxes give me the worst stomach ache. I never pay my estimated until end of year. I have screwed up my taxes self-filing so many times I can't even count. The fact that it's looming again is giving me hives. But I believe in taxes. I just wish, as with everything governmental, that there was a little more accountability.