Thursday, April 14, 2011

Taxes - 2010 Edition!

OHMYGODDESS!  I swear it gets harder and harder each year, to fill out the required individual income tax returns required by the Federal and my state governments.  And each year, as it gets more difficult to understand the arcane language of the Tax Codes and the instructions for the required forms, while my income does not seem to get larger, my tax burden does. 

As I am not a billionaire, nor a millionaire, nor even a one hundred thousandaire, nor a fifty thousandaire, I just do not understand how this can be.  How can it possibly be that I, who earn less than the national "mean" income (that's not a pun, by the way), pay more and more taxes each year while a corporation like - say - General Electric (GE), that had NET INCOME IN EXCESS OF FIVE BILLION DOLLARS paid ZERO FEDERAL INCOME TAX and actually RECEIVED A FEDERAL INCOME TAX REFUND IN EXCESS OF TWO BILLION DOLLARS for fiscal 2010?

I am constantly being told that income taxes have been reduced.  Right.  Show me, exactly, where.  I, Ms. Nobody in Nowheresville, USA, keep paying out more and more of my modest income each year for Federal and state income taxes, and GE pays NOTHING.  Now darlings, is it just me, or is something very wrong with this picture? 

This morning, as I was frantically scrambling around trying to find my tax papers in order to put together my state income tax return (I filed my Federal income tax return on March 23), I suddenly discovered, in a shower of papers falling off the kitchen table -- GASP! -- that I had somehow not included the fact that I had installed a new energy-efficient qualifying gas furnace on December 13, 2010 (after my old furnace DIED of old age on one of the fricking coldest days of the year - of course), thus qualifying for a $958 credit.  I thought I was having a heart attack. Where the hell was that return?  Am I succumbing to Alzheimers disease?  Or just simple senile dementia?

I scrambled around trying to find that federal income tax return that I KNEW I had filed - and do you think I could find it?  Hell no!  I remembered (or thought I remembered) taking the draft and work papers into my office so I could type it up - but as it turned out, I ended up typing it up online and printing it out -- I do not trust filing online.  I signed it, copied it and mailed it out to the IRS.  I put my copy along with my work papers in a desk drawer... And I remember bringing those very same papers and copy home...

Anyway, after having scrambled around for over 30 precious early morning minutes trying to find my Federal return -- and failing, I had to run upstairs and get ready to go to work.  I didn't even have time for my one (and only one) morning cup of coffee.  To say I was upset is a gentle understatement.  It wasn't until 7:12 a.m., while putting mascara onto the eyelashes on my left eye that it occurred to me in a blinding flash of light that the tax return stuff I needed was in --

--  in a NEW but old canvas bag I'd rescued months ago from the office trash.  The bag was designed to hold a laptop computer and was roomy enough to old other stuff. It was one of those "give-aways" that are always available at high-priced seminars. Someone had thrown it into the garbage at the office months ago and, being Ms. Frugal, I'd fetched it from the trash and stashed it at the side of my desk, thinking I might one day be able to use it. 

About a week ago, as I was once again contemplating the demise of my much-loved Acer notebook (only 10 inches wide and able to fit in my regular purse) that had succumbed to the absolutely wicked and vile McCaffee flawed security update which, instead, totally wiped out its operating system while I was in Las Vegas last year (I still have its corpus, not willing to bury it as dead, despite a computer expert's best efforts to resurrect the little Acer notebook from its grave), I brought that canvas bag home, thinking that once properly cleaned out and laundered it would be perfect for holding my "new" cheapo Acer laptop (bought over Thanksgiving weekend at a really good price).

And so, - what was I thinking? - I stuffed my tax drafts and my copy of the filed Federal income tax return into it one evening -  and hauled it home.  Of course I would remember that my Federal income tax return and work papers were in it, as I would need them in order to do my state return.

Of course.

I placed the bag upright against the coffee table in my family room so I could see it from the dinette and thus would remember that it needed to be cleaned out and laundered so that I would be able to use it for my upcoming vacation to Las Vegas!

So, this morning, after I dashed downstairs, mascara wand still in hand, this morning -- there it was staring right at me -- the rescued canvas bag from the office. I looked inside and yanked out a sheath of papers.  Among them was - my tax crap, including the priceless copy of the filed Federal income tax return.

Darlings, needless to say, I have been TOTALLY out of fricking sorts all fricking day.  But at least I discovered those precious tax work papers, draft and the copy of my Federal return that I absolutely needed in order to put together my state income tax return tonight.

And I will be - someday soon (I hope), $958 richer courtesy of the U.S. federal government, to which I pay more than my fair share share of my gross income each year.

Something has gone terribly wrong in this country.  People who make multi-millions, and corporations that net billions, pay no income tax whatsoever, and yet I pay more than 20% of my gross income, but I sure don't take that gross income home to live on.  Nope.  There's federal income taxes, Medicare taxes, Social Security taxes, and state income taxes.  In addition, every month I pay excise taxes, sales taxes, "access charges", 911 fees, and miscellaneous fees and assessments on my utility bills that total several hundreds of dollars each year.  That does not include my real estate taxes and trash-hauling-fee taxes that I pay once a year (about an additional 10% of my income). 

Now, our new Nazi governor, Scott Walker, who says "no new taxes", has managed to give millions in tax cuts to his rich buddies while I will now have to pay a fee for state-mandated recycling that the Republican-controlled State Legislature and Senate wiped out funding to the municipalities, but did not wipe the mandatory recycling law off the books.  I expect it will be about another $400 to $500 a year added to my property tax bill of $4400.  Mind you, this is in addition to the mandatory fee of close to $500 I already pay for garbage pick-up that is conveniently added to my property tax bill.  Garbage pick-up does not include recycling pick-up. 

Gee, thanks, Scooter, for your "no tax increases" pledge.  You asshole. 

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