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"The politics of taxing / The politics of ooo paying out"*

4 April 2006

Huzzah! Huzzah! Our taxes are done, and I will pick them up today. —What’s that? How much are we getting back? Why, nothing, of course. We will owe around $400 all told (federal and state).

That’s good for several reasons. First, it’s been typically closer to $1,000 owed, so only $400 is fantabulous (this “owing” is, I believe, due to being a freelancer, where no two years are exactly the same, income-wise). Another reason it’s a positive thing is that it means I did better than we thought I would. And the fact that we’re getting closer to zero owed also means we’re doing a better and better job of guesstimating correctly on what I should be paying in estimated taxes (yeah, flip side of the coin).

But the strongest reason for owing rather than getting a refund is this: Sure, you’re psyched that you got $2,423 in tax refund (that’s the average tax refund so far this year, according to Time magazine). But that’s a $2,400 loan you gave the government this year, interest-free. Imagine how powerful that money would have been if you had been able to keep it in your own bushel basket (well, I’d hope you’d do something better than keep your talents under a bushel basket, but…). At least you’d be able to get some interest off it. Do you realize that Americans overwithhold $10 billion annually? Ten. Billion. Golly gee willikers!

Now, before you go off thinking I’m turning libertarian, I’m not. I still believe that our responsibility to our community (for education, health care, welfare, etc.) includes paying a heck of a lot more in taxes, and I would pay more willingly (as long as we could stop insisting that so much of it should go to paved roads and corporate loopholes). But it makes no sense whatsoever to give money interest-free to the government (one that lately is using my money in terrible terrible ways).

So, how much did you get back? Are you still as excited about getting a refund? Enquiring minds want to know…

*Sorry, I’ve had “The Politics of Dancing” plyaing in my head for the past 24 hours. I don’t know why. I took it to be a sign.

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