Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Chipping In

So now my taxes are paid.

Well, actually, they were already paid.  But through the application of a fair amount of software, several hours on hold with the company that made said software because apparently having software that won’t update on Macintosh computers is considered okay for general release into the consumer market, and a fair amount of honest guesswork as to what numbers belonged in what spaces (fortunately the 1040 form does not ask you to swear that all your numbers are correct; it just asks you to swear that you believe that they are all correct, and that is a matter of interpetation), I know how much I’m getting back. 

I like it when I get money back, because it is just found money to me.  I didn’t know I had this money, and suddenly – BOOM! – there it is.  Yes, I know that the financial types complain about people like me and kvetch about “interest-free loans to the government,” but you know what?  The government needs it, and fortunately for me at this point in my life I don’t, at least not right away.  I need an enforced savings program more than I need the dollar or two in interest that money would generate in my own accounts, and therefore I consider it a fee.  It says something that the federal government charges less to use my money than my own bank does.  Sometimes the private sector really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

When we get our money it always goes into the summer fund – one of the joys of academia is only getting paid nine months out of the year unless you can scrounge up a summer class or suchlike.  Or if the summer fund is sufficiently full it goes into the project fund, which is much the same only a whole lot less fun (at least for me).  Given that both Kim and I will be working this summer, projects it is. 

This year’s project will be a redo of our upstairs bathroom, which has not really been upgraded – or, for that matter, much noticed at all – since we moved into this house in 1996.  If we can put aside a sufficient level of project fund money it will allow me to fob that whole remodel onto trained professionals who will not only do the job correctly but will also not ask me to have any part in doing so other than to write a check, which two things being not unrelated.

If I want a  home repair job done correctly, the last thing I want is to do it myself.

Kim is already knee-deep in the sorts of books and other publications that cater to such projects.  Did you know there are entire magazines devoted to nothing but remodeling your bathroom?  I am agog.  So far my only contribution has been to request a feasibility study on making the whole thing a Swedish-style wet room.  Given that the room is about six feet square with a sloping ceiling to get it to fit under the eave this is probably unlikely, but you never know.

But regardless of the existential status of taxes paid or unpaid or the destination of returned moneys, this year’s tax forms are now in the mail, heading toward the IRS.

No, I didn’t e-file.  I will probably be the last person in America who sends in their tax returns electronically. 

For one thing, I’m not in a rush – as a general rule either I am going to use the refund money in the summertime (in which case there is no pressing need to have it now) or I owe them money (in which case they can wait).  For another, as someone who spends an inordinate amount of time online I know better than to trust the internet with anything important.  Cat photos are one thing; taxes are another.

I know that I’m not supposed to like paying my taxes, but I do.  I put money into my country and I get services back – what’s not to like? 

Right now there is a President who is not actively trying to subvert the Constitution, destroy the fabric of American society or reduce the middle class to abject poverty through massive transfers of wealth to the already rich (and would that I had a governor I could say the same thing about).  The post office still exists despite the best efforts of Republicans to legislate it out of existence through unusual and inappropriate financial requirements.  We still have a strong military even though it has been thoroughly abused by two recent fantasy wars launched by the previous administration without anything like adequate planning for either combat or post-war operations.  The full weight of the federal government remains squarely behind Social Security and there is even some funding still headed toward NPR.  And so on. 

The list is long, and the benefits accrue.

Why wouldn’t I want to help fund such things?  I am not so selfish as to think that I owe nothing to the community and society in which I live.  I am not so blinkered as to deny that whatever I have made in this world it has not been by my efforts alone.  We built that; not I built that.  You make sound investments in the world around you, and you make sure they pay off.

We have forgotten that this is a nation of “We the People,” and that the government is US, not THEM.  When we follow the narrow-minded, short-sighted, ideologically juvenile, and radically selfish in their calls to abolish both government and taxation we do ourselves and our history a tremendous injury.

So I pay my share.

It’s the American thing to do.


Janiece said...

I don't mind paying my share either.

Each year I do an exercise whereby I figure out what we "could" have paid for with our Federal taxes, such as the salary of a soldier or sailor, support for WIC, etc.

It gives me a good feeling about paying what I do.

David said...

I like that exercise. Perhaps I'll have to try it myself. :)