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 legally 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.