I never felt too violated by the news that my government can snoop on every digital communication and financial transaction I make. Maybe I should have been more bothered, but the snooping wasn't affecting my daily life, and it seemed like it might be useful for fighting terrorism, so I worried about other things instead.

This week, as I was pulling together all of my records to do taxes, I didn't get too upset that the process of taxpaying is unnecessarily frustrating and burdensome. As a citizen, I do what I need to do. I'm a team player.

I have also come to peace with the fact that my government now takes about half of my income. I figure most of it goes to good causes. I'm here to help.

I take pride in the fact that I don't let the little things get to me.

But the other day, as I was crawling my way through mountains of statements and receipts, trying to organize my records for my accountant, with several more days of this drudgery ahead, I had a disturbing thought. I must warn you in advance that this disturbing thought can only be expressed in all capital letters and it must include profanity. It goes like this.

Message to my government:



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Mar 15, 2014
The government would do it, but tax preparers lobby to prevent them.
Mar 11, 2014
Excellent thought Scott! My tax preparer, bless her clever heart, just rang to let me know my taxes are done. I have too much other "caca" to do my own these days. When my husband and I only had one business I could do all of that. Now I have a business, one rental house that I outright rent, another house that I "rent"one room of to my business and the rest of the house to my son who has some disabilities, and the people who take care of him. Since all data is online to Inuit, I see no reaon that the IRS can't do it all either.
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 11, 2014
Since payment of protection money (aka taxes), is supposed to be "voluntary" they need you to fill the information as means of confession that you owe them or as means of extortion if you make a mistake. It will also serve as means of justifying when they send a goon to steal your property if you choose not to pay their extortion.

That's the real reason you fill out the forms.

As a side note, they also know the real unemployment figures. Quite easily to calculate. As employers are requires to steal from the paycheck of every worker to pay for the government extortion fund. Just count how many are paying paying extortion money to the IRS. The more people are paying extortion the more people are employed. The less people are paying the extortion, the less people are employed.

+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 10, 2014
Keep in mind that the government is also looking to tax non-cash transactions and cash transactions for which there is no record. I will provide a few example transactions below to help illustrate (yes, I am a tax professional).

Question 1: A friend builds you a house to live in out of kindness using donated materials and land. Do you have to file and pay taxes?

Question 2: You give $10,000 to you son as a wedding present and they use the money as down payment on a house...does he and his wife have to claim the money on their year-end joint filing?

Question 3: You get sick and had to spend a lot of money on hospital and doctors cost not covered by insurance, are the expenses deductible?

Answer 1: Yes, you have to account for your gain on a Fair Market Value (FMV) basis and the government (state and fed) will tax you on that amount so you could end up owing money even if you made no income that year.

Answer 2: No, there is a lifetime threshold on gift giving and receipt and as long as you are below that threshold, your son does not have to claim the gift.

Answer 3: It depends. Shows you how screwed up the tax code is.
+4 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 10, 2014
@ EMU: I get tired of hearing that "budget deficits have gone down since 2008" fallacy. Here's why:

1) The Senate didn't even pass any budgets after that, because they didn't want to be held accountable for their profligate spending.

2) There was approximately $1 Trillion extra spent in 2008 (not budgeted) because of the crisis. So spending less than that in subsequent years is like saying "my household has spent less money each year since 2008... of course I BOUGHT A HOUSE in 2008, so there's a half million dollars I can blow each year now and still say I 'spent less.'"
Mar 9, 2014
Kerry: "Your troops are violating international law!"
Putin: "Crimea river ..."
+1 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 9, 2014
I have worked in the UK for 25 years and all income or sales tax is paid out before I have access to the money.

I have never submitted a tax form or manually paid the taxman.
0 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 8, 2014
Phantom II: "And that's with our federal government spending $6.8 trillion more than what they took in in taxes since President Obama took office."

Yes, but your federal government also spent "$6.8 trillion more than what they took in in taxes" since I turned 39 as well. So?

In case you haven't noticed it, there was an economic crisis going on. Here's a slightly less - uh - reductionist - picture of the budget situation: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/28/business/economy/federal-deficit-falls-to-smallest-level-since-2008.html .
+6 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 7, 2014
A colleague told me that in Sweden the government mails you a filled out tax form. If everything is correct, you can acknowledge that with a text message.
Mar 7, 2014
Our tax laws are so messed up, even the government can't accurately say what your taxes are.
Mar 7, 2014
Being married to a Tax CPA, let me assure you they do nothing to push complexity nor are they worried about losing their jobs (they have faith in Congress :-). Flat vs. Progressive isn't the issue. There are two points:

a) There is just GOBS of social policy built into the tax code. We use it to reward and penalize behaviors, fine the rich, subsidize the poor (and versa), and 5000 other things (many of which are quite noble - no judgment intended). Even Obamacare is someone implemented via the tax code. If you could outlaw social-policy-via-taxcode like earmarks were (supposedly) outlawed, the code would become a lot simpler (although you'd still have to deal with estates, businesses, etc - so the CPAs would stay busy, though individuals would not feel so overwhelmed).

b) Once the tax writers decided that everyone has access to turbo-tax like options, there was no longer any need to prioritize simplicity over equity. You put your raw data into your browser, click, and out pops the "you owe $" (or you get $) and all that complexity is hidden from you, so no harm in leaving it there. ("Siri, compute my taxes").

Just my $.02 - don't tax me for it :-)
Mar 7, 2014
A political party in India recently thought of introducing a banking transaction tax wherein the govt would abolish income tax and take a small bit out of every banking transaction. Some people though, said that a couple of countries had already tried it and it did not work. Wonder why? Seems like a good idea to me, if the govt can control its greed. Big If!
Mar 7, 2014
Scott, you should look into the FairTax. It's a far superior taxation construct that eliminates the waste of our current tax system without damaging the "underclasses" (in the parlance of those privileged government types).

It is NOT a flat tax. It provides a "prebate" that eliminates ALL federal taxes up to the poverty line. It eliminates the payroll taxes and Social Security taxes, which are the biggest tax on the middle class anyway.

When you actually do the math, it would eliminate waste, reduce the costs of almost everything we buy--substantially--and make American goods and services far more competitive on the global market.

There are a couple of good books about it, but their website does a pretty good job of synthesizing the basics. Check it out!
+27 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 7, 2014

The law is so large and complex, it is unavailable to the normal citizen.

When the law is so difficult to understand, so large, and so convoluted that a normal person has to hire a CPA and Lawyer to tell them the law, the law is too complex.

I'm not unhappy the the government isn't doing my taxes, (no way I trust them to both calculate and collect my taxes) I'm unhappy the law is unavailable to normal people, and too often used as a weapon against them.

Mar 7, 2014
Your outrage is noted, but it highlights a big difference between collecting data and organizing it. Simply collecting and storing data (payments, email, etc.) is something that is easy to automate, but to actually organize it, remove duplicates of the same, and so on requires real understanding that is (presently) beyond automation. The people best equipped to organize the data for tax purposes are the people who already know the basic overall picture- i.e. the taxpayers themselves. The amount of time it would take another human to figure out what my (or much more complicated, your!) taxes would be, given all of the various records that would have been vacuumed up, is much much greater than it would take you. Imagine having a thousand shoeboxes of receipts dumped on your desk with many duplications or inconsistencies and trying to puzzle out what actually happened, blegh!
+2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 7, 2014
As for the security breach... I find it good to know that they are doing it and in what manner. If I ever go rogue, I'll have a head start on my enemies tactics.

As for taxes... as a small business owner who bootstrapping his way through, cutting a check for even small amounts is detrimental to my cash flow. It gets REAL HARD to write that check when large multinational corporations not only get away with NOT paying taxes, but get reimbursed from the Fed with MY money. It really pisses me off. Hence - "If I ever go rogue".
-2 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 6, 2014
@Phantom II

May I suggest that when you have a moment, you take a look here:

Mar 6, 2014
You got a government? You got cheated! Ask for your money back!
-19 Rank Up Rank Down
Mar 6, 2014
Tax is owed when the money is earned. Let that sink in.

What Scott and millions of others are now doing is to reconcile what has already been paid with what should have been paid. Chances are, he's overpaid because the deductions he gets for paying mortgage interest and thousands of other little things aren't figured into what he is (should be) paying out initially when the money is earned. Exemptions on your W2 are one way to mitigate this, so you aren't giving the US government an interest free loan until they give some back to you. I say "some" because it is unlikely that you are aware of every tax dodge out there and are most likely leaving money on the IRS's table.

As someone who should be paying quarterly, Scott should be doing this every 3 months and not have any surprises at the end of the year.

Also, Scott waited until March to do this which is indicative of someone who owes money. The law states that all "tax forms" need to be mailed (postmarked) no later than January 31st. So he's had plenty of time to get his money back if he was due a refund. That seems unlikely. Also, studies show that tax cheats usually do their taxes in March when most filing is done in the hope that they will be lost in the massive amounts of paperwork (electronic or otherwise) that the IRS needs to process. If Scott's accountant is honest, this shouldn't be an issue.
Mar 6, 2014
I Agree with you
___________________ ON t a x e s __________ 
when I lived in California (until 1992) I felt this way (like you) about taxes, in part because I could never get them (state) right... And at one point - a very small amount was in error - like $2.52 - I think I overpaid so I got it back but my reaction was similar to yours... if they are going to go out of their way to find a mistake under $5 - just send me the "bill" or refund amount - don't make me fill out 4 pages just to tell me I missed something. I'm sure if I didn't trust them I'd feel differently but at the time I just felt: corrected, wrong, and glad to be done with it. I, also, felt superfluous to the whole shebang.

__________________ learning things __________
My recent job with the elderly had me spouting the official "keep your brain active" propaganda and if I was going to tell someone else to do something - I thought it best to heed my own advice. I picked Hawaiian, for multiple reasons and it has been awesome. At a minimum - I can listen to a tune, and to do more I have a great book with 2 cd's and lastly flashcards on my iPad... all very valuable to me. Puzzles and working with your hands are also valuable, but I've kept up with the Hawaiian.
Making myself a curriculum: in Hawaiian, algebra (refresher), twitter (no tweets, just browsing), targeted resumes and new job search techniques. I also got a commercial driver license - that taught me: both how to drive a semi and how to keep my mouth shut. Equally valuable.

______________ Your computer wishes ________
I know your not writing because you want advice or a reading list, but I do want to mention that of the top 200 sci-fi books (4 of them by Douglas Adams...) was a Robert Heinlein book - the moon is a harsh mistress - and this book was surprisingly easy to read (almost self-propelled) - I had been hesitant to read his stuff because he is known for introducing vocabulary (groc being the most famous, perhaps) and so I thought it'd be a big word fest (like Sagan) but no. I mention it because the computer plays a character, and has my name and is like-able and clever. As a sci-fi fan Star Trek TNG is about my speed, the new stuff is more western-y and gritty, but a computer that can talk seems closer than ever before - the google app lets you say OK google and then ask a question or add something to your schedule... I think it's only a matter of time. Having said that - I think like-able talking computers may be a while just because of the nuances of language.
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