Tax cocktail blues: That sinking feeling when your money is siphoned

April 2019 Posted in Columnists & Opinion

As it was approaching the Most Important Day of the Year for the federal government – Tax Day – I thought I’d take a few minutes and do my duty as a citizen-taxpayer and calculate what I owe to Uncle Sam. I downloaded one of those tax-preparation programs onto my computer, took a couple of sips of a margarita to steel myself and began.

After a few minutes, I could see that the New Tax Law our friends in Congress produced was working its magic. The tax program I use keeps a running total of the federal taxes I owe. Every time I touched a button on my computer, the total increased.

I’m not making this up. What started as too much turned into a total that made me want to skip the margarita and just go straight for the tequila.

My reaction can be paraphrased as such: AAAARRRGGGHHHNOOOOO!!!!!!

I felt as though a villain in a James Bond movie had gotten ahold of me.

“What do you want me to do?” I asked my computer, feeling as though a laser beam was pointed at my wallet. “Do you want more money?”

“No, Mr. Sampson,” it seemed to say. “I want you to die!”

I’ve had it with the dimwits in Congress.

“We want everyone to be able to afford college,” they chirp all the time. I suppose that’s why kids all over the country are stuck with massive federal student loans – some well over $100,000 – that will take them more than a decade to pay off.

“We want everyone to be able to afford a comfortable retirement during their Golden Years,” they say all the time. That’s why they have trashed Social Security and made IRAs and 401(k) plans a joke. If you need any of that money for almost anything, prepare to get the biggest tax bill you’ve ever seen, complete with a 10 percent penalty – called a “disincentive” in government-speak. The tax will be so high you’ll have to take more out of your IRA to pay it, generating even more penalties.

“We just want everyone to pay their fair share,” they say. Yep, and that’s why Jeff Bezos, the Amazon guy and the richest person in the U.S., gets a “salary” of $84,000 while sitting on a pile of stock worth $134 billion. You’ll note that he won’t pay a penny of tax on that stock until he sells it, but there are ways for him, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and even Donald Trump to dodge the capital gains tax – by gifting shares of stock instead of cash to foundations (that their families control).

I’ve had it. I have no idea how much money has been siphoned out of my paychecks and retirement investments over the years to feed the federal government, which will still borrow $779 billion this year to cover overspending, but I’ll tell you what: I feel as though I’ve been throwing money down a rat hole. Two wars in the Middle East, plus a side adventure in Syria, an Affordable Health Care Plan that increased the deductible on my health insurance from $500 to $5,000 and the president playing footsie with a cartoon character from North Korea who seems as intent as ever on nuking anyone in sight.

We hear a lot about liberals and con-servatives in Congress and the presidency. We hear that this party or that will cure all that ails us. We hear promises that our lives will be better if we only go along with the next kooky idea that some politician coughs up.

But for my money – which I work my ever-loving butt off to earn – I would settle for competence.

Now there’s a concept.

Carl Sampson is a freelance writer and editor. He lives in Stayton, Oregon.

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