|Taxation without frustration
By Thomas Lindaman
Just when you thought it was safe to earn money, it’s tax season. Although, I have to admit I’m a little perplexed by the term, considering nobody goes out to hunt taxes, but I digress. One Sunday I sat down to work on my tax forms like I do every year. I got all my paperwork together, grabbed a cold drink, and found a comfy spot where I could do the work. It was the most grueling hour I’ve ever spent on my taxes. At the end I was mentally exhausted and needed a martini and a long nap.
Then, I moved onto the portion where it asked me for my address.
Many Republicans and conservatives have said the tax code is way too complicated, and I would have to agree. I’m not a dumb man by any stretch of the imagination (provided you don’t listen to my critics), but even I’ve had trouble making heads or tails out of simple tax forms. You shouldn’t need to have a PhD in economics to send money to the government.
So, as predictable as anything, I’ve put some thought to how to simply the paying of taxes. There are already a couple of easy methods out there. There’s the old office joke of the “new 1040 tax form” where you’re instructed to write down what you made last year and then send it in. Then, there’s the new Democrat 1040 tax form where you write down what you made last year and send twice that amount to DNC headquarters. (Hey, you gotta hand it to Howard Dean for coming up with this innovative approach to fundraising.)
Anyway, here are my suggestions.
1. Do away with the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. This is the section where you can donate $3 to a fund that will help fund Presidential runs, such as those by John Kerry, Al Gore, and Bob Dole. This is a bad idea because we don’t get a refund if the money doesn’t get spent or if there are no good candidates. And believe me, if you gave $3 to the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and backed any one of the candidates I just mentioned, you’re due a refund given how badly they ran their
2. Simplify what is considered taxable income. If you filed a 1040 long form, check out everything you could possibly get taxed on. Alimony, dividends, tips from having a paper route, even money you got from your grandma in your birthday card, almost every monetary transaction is taxable. Except kickbacks from big money donors, of course. That would be silly for politicians to be taxed on that money. But for the rest of us, we need something better. Not everything we get money for should be
3. Adjust Adjusted Gross Income. This is always a section that gets me mad for two reasons. One, in order to claim a lot of these adjustments, you need to have form after form proving that you actually could adjust your income. Instead, let’s just give everybody an allowance of $2500 and call it good. If you spent more than that, then you should do your best to use number 2 to get out of paying taxes. Oh, and the other reason? I don’t qualify to get any of the adjustments under Adjusted Gross
4. Do away with all the math. Once you get past the first page of the tax form, you get to the government equivalent of the math portion of the SATs. I’m surprised the government just hasn’t converted everything to story problem format. “A train leaves New York City heading westward at 45 MPH at 7:14 AM. A second train leaves Boston heading northwest at 55 MPH at 8:06 AM. Does the New York conductor have to itemize deductions?” Listen, it’s simple. Take what you were taxed, subtract out the $2500, find the amount you should have been taxed on those nifty charts the IRS provides, and either send the difference if you weren’t taxed enough or send your address so you can get the difference back if you were taxed too much.
5. Pass a law making all tax forms one page long. And I’m not saying the IRS can get away with making a 1040 long form with type so small you need an electron microscope to see it. Taxes are harrowing enough without having to document every financial transaction you’ve ever made out of fear of an IRS audit. Besides, the IRS is on a paperwork reduction kick anyway, so let’s pass a law mandating that all tax forms be only one page long. It saves us time, it saves the IRS time, and it saves the
6. Scrap the tax code in favor of an alternative tax format. Let’s face it, the IRS monster is just too big for us to handle anymore, so let’s move to something else. There are great arguments out there in favor of a flat tax, where everybody pays the same percentage, as well as in favor of a consumption tax, where everybody pays for what they use. But I have a third way, one that I love and I think you will, too.
I call it the Thomas Lindaman Doesn’t Have to Pay Taxes Anymore tax plan. Catchy, huh?