May 27, 2024

Column: “That Got Me to Thinkin’…? “On Taxes”


“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “On Taxes” Chapter 84
By Bruce Williams

Bruce Williams

I went to H & R Block on Thursday.  I was only there for about an hour before I was informed that I owed the government the equivalent of a new patio deck or a European vacation.  I guess that’s what happens when you follow up your worst year of work in 25 years with your best year of work in 25 years—though I don’t recall Uncle Sam offering me that patio deck or Euro vacay after I stunk it up in 2020 (hereafter known as the worst year in the new millennium).

I wouldn’t mind so much if all the money went to, say, education or feeding the hungry—money well spent I’d say with a shrug.  Chances are, though, it’ll go towards a failed drone strike (a ‘dud’ maybe), a well-vetted Pentagon toilet seat or some unmentionable senator’s surgery to remove his wiggling turkey gobbler under the auspices of his all-encompassing government health care plan.

I guess I shouldn’t complain.  I did make a lot more and had the wherewithal to fork over my routing numbers so the ravenous IRS could scoop it directly out of my account.  I imagined the long arm of a thin, grinning caricatured agent tickling my ledger with his eager, yellowed fingernails.  I don’t have the patience to try and skirt the laws with subterfuge like some billionaires seem to manage to do—jumping from lily pad to lily pad across a metaphorical pond trying to escape my due share and outrun the Revenuers and their lackeys, their audits and liens.

I do like (quite a bit really) what taxes actually provide—the roads, police, firemen, schools; the safety net for the less fortunate and the guardrails buffering disasters (earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis and floods—our particular Northwestern flavors).  It’s just that gut punch of dumping a chunk of my savings into the government coffers and then waving goodbye, trusting the judgment of my elected officials to do right by all of us that I find a little unsettling.

Like most things, I prepared myself a bit before I headed in with my paperwork—Googling the amount usually owed for what I made versus what I had actually paid, that sinking feeling creeping in as I cross-compared over several entries.  I could tell that my tax preparer kind of felt a little bad for us—suggesting possible payment plans as I waved her off and offered up those sacred routing digits.  It’s like a former brother-in-law used to like to say when one of his kids had to undertake something undesirable: ”If you’ve got to eat a shit sandwich, you better take big bites.”

So my practiced Stoicism, though slightly shaken, soldiers on.  You can’t rue the lost opportunities those funds could’ve provided (or even the dent it would’ve assuaged in the college and weddings I’ve still got on the horizon), you’ve got to hope it goes to the greater good.  And so a bigger chunk goes into my 401K next year, and life goes on.  Still—it would’ve been nice to put that concrete basketball/pickleball court in the backyard, but there’s always next year I guess.  I’ll just be in my recliner licking my wounds for a couple more days if you need me.