How Big Is Your Tax Refund?

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Here’s my secret when I am play-fighting with friends and family. I hold my left arm up and wave it around to distract my opponent so I can hit them with my right hand. It’s all fun and games. They know we are both goofing around.

Our government also distracts many of us who are unwary by getting us to focus on our tax refund at tax time. Many citizens gaze gleefully at their refunds without focusing on how hard they were just hit by the taxes they actually paid.

It makes me wonder about how many people think their government is giving them money? Many of these people have been fooled into thinking that when they receive their own money back, money they actually overpaid, that their government is benevolently rewarding them. In this case the distraction tactic has paid off. When people are happy getting their own money back and not focused on how much they have actually paid, it’s a Win/Win situation for the government. But you lose.

On the other hand, were you aware that some people don’t pay any taxes at all and get a refund? This is true. My understanding is that this is primarily due to child tax credits as part of the Earned Income Tax Credit. I personally know people in this category. They file their taxes without paying a dime and get a refund! Their refund comes out of your pocket. You have to feel good about that, don’t you? I don’t. My wife and I are very charitable so I would prefer to keep as much of our money as possible so that we can choose and monitor those who receive our donations.

Our government representatives have another great way of distracting us. A way of waving their left hand about while hoping to punch us in the face. Many representatives focus on the BIG BAD CORPORATIONS. Corporations have it made our representatives claim. They make more money than they know what to do with and don’t pay taxes. Or pay very little in taxes. However it is presented, corporations are evil for using the tax breaks┬álegally offered to them by our tax code. Legal tax breaks that are part of our extremely complicated tax laws.

I’ve been doing my own tax returns for over 30 years now. I remember long ago reading some statement that said a 9th grader should be able to fill out and submit a tax return in around 2 hours. I may have the age specifics wrong, but I never believed this statement to be true. Why? Because taxes have always been too damn complicated! And who do you go to for advice, the IRS or a tax consultant? Good luck with that my friends.

Anyway, I do my own tax return for a few reasons. One is because I am frugal and I have never understood those who packed up their own receipts and took them to a professional to do the entry work. Another reason I do my own taxes is so I know what to expect in order to prepare for my next year’s taxes. I began my years of tax preparation by doing them with a pencil and paper forms that I collected from the post office or libraries. It was hard work reading all of the directions and making the right choices. For the past 20 years or more, I have purchased tax software and muddled through it hoping I make the right choices and receive all of MY money back that I deserve to get back. It’s not easy and it takes much more time than just a couple of hours.

There may be some of you reading this that are saying the same thing that I have had other’s tell me every year. “Delbert, that is why I take my taxes to my tax professional. For a fee, my tax professional gets me a better return than I have ever gotten on my own.”

Now the distraction has come full circle. It’s tax time and we are all focused on hoping we get a return and if so we hope we get a good ‘un. We’ve been trained to respond this way year after year. And the political leaders laugh all the way to the bank. They are thrilled that we are not focused on the amount of taxes we actually pay. They are thrilled that we get upset at Big Bad Cooperations. They are thrilled that low income and no income earners not only don’t pay taxes, but get a tax return. They are thrilled that we don’t take a step back and ask why our tax laws are so complicated. They are thrilled that no one seems to question why they have to buy software or pay a professional. They are thrilled because this ensures the longevity of their political careers.

Career politicians don’t want you to be thinking of a Fair Tax. No way would they want a flat tax. Could you imagine if there was a flat tax? Then everyone would have some skin in the game. Even poor people may start paying attention to the taxing and spending habits of their representatives. Corporations would no longer be the politician’s scapegoat.

If there is one thing I wish everyone would do this tax season, that would be to focus on the amount of taxes they are paying. I would want everyone to realize that their tax refund was their money. Money that the government could not figure out how to keep this year. The same government leaders are hoping for better luck next year.

I would hope that everyone would realize that these representatives work for us and that we need to work as hard to keep them from taking our money needlessly as we do to earn our money in the first place. The 2014 elections are a good time to hold those who play this game of distraction accountable by replacing them with conservative minded leaders.

Climate Change Is Real

I believe Climate Change is real. I’ve lived long enough to witness it. I’ve experienced it and continue to experience it. You may doubt it and scoff at it, but please hear me out.

I was in grade school in the ’60s. We had a climate of morality back then. As children we were taught to respect and honor our parents. Our parents, teachers, churches and government leaders emphasized the discipline of hard work, good grades, reverence to God and respect for others. Ever so slowly, through the years this has been replaced by a climate of individualism and relative truth.

And now this individualism has reached the level of how our children are raised. This is what is taught in school. I believe children live a stressful life because they have no real standard to guide them. When my son was a child, I read a book on raising boys. One key thing I remember from the book was the phrase, “A boy wants to know 2 things. What are the rules and are you going to enforce them?”

I believe that like some infants, elementary school aged children need to be swaddled. They want a firm reassurance that they are not in charge. They press against it and need it to press back.

My son went through his teenage years around a decade ago. This was difficult as the climate was changing. The climate change is now progressing much faster.

Long ago critical thinkers including parents and teachers were concerned with how media influenced the lives of children. This was especially true of television, movies and video games. My generation scoffed. I scoffed. Drugs, sex and rock ‘n roll did not change us. We were smarter than that. Now that I am older, I look back and realize that in many ways I barely made it through such experiences.

Those who survived the depression and later went on to fight WWII have been referred to as the ‘Greatest Generation’ by Tom Brokaw. They were a great generation. 20 years ago, I started to realize that I was part of the ‘Most Selfish Generation’. We were growing up during the slogan “If it feels good, Do It!”.

Men my age inhabited their garages toying with their mechanical tools, cars and gadgets while TVs and radios blared away. Meanwhile their wives ruled the home. Husbands and wives kept a safe distance in order to avoid conflict. Their grade school children had their own lives. The did ‘their own thing’. Nobody was feeling good, but everyone was doing it.

Now I have a teenage daughter. Today’s society tells her she has ‘rights’ as a child. She shouldn’t focus on what her parents tell her. God is foolish and a figment of some people’s imagination. God is an imaginary crutch for those who aren’t doing their own thing. Her media choices are shocking to me. Sadly they are not shocking to those who have seen the transition move ever so slowly from The Andy Griffith Show to Fame. I’m using Fame as a conservative example of a show full of sexuality and references to high school kids ‘hooking up’. (In this case conservative does not correlate to conservative living)

Everyone has their own cellphone but rarely do they communicate verbally with each other in a serious manner. Communication is now done via texting so every individual maintains full control. Discipline is rare. Demands are high. The majority of people want to ‘feel good’ without discipline. They demand that others meet their needs. Their priority is their entertainment. They aren’t comfortable in life. They aren’t secure. Especially children. They want to know where the rules went. I think they want to be swaddled more.

That’s the climate change I have witnessed.

Please don’t buckle fellow conservatives. Conservative living is hard work. Your children need you to hold the course.