Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Square Peg - Tax Time, I.R.S.

The Square Peg - Tax Time, I.R.S.
© S. Bradley Stoner

Well, I went fishing on the coast last week. I had a great time... caught  a lot of fish, Gaftopsail Catfish, Sand trout, Mullet, and one ugly fish (aka Stargazer/Monk Fish). I even started to write a blog about it, but I never got it finished. You know why? It’s tax time again. Tax Time - It Really Sucks. And it really sucks that it comes around once a year just in time to put a damper on spring.

What I want to know is, who writes those instruction booklets? It’s not so much the income part that drives me mad, it’s the instructions for deductions. Why can’t they write those like they do the income parts? Huh? I mean for income they tell you “enter all wages, salaries, tips, etc.” on line 7. They even go through all the codes that appear on your W-2 and tell you what and what does not apply to “income.” Not that any of that matters to me anymore... I’m retired, but my wife works, so it applies to her. Given that I do the taxes, it’s good info.

Deductions and itemized expenses (form 1040 Section A) are another story. I get 1099s for my consulting work and book royalties. They don’t withhold taxes from those. So, I have to file a form 1040 Section C... and if it happened to be a profitable year, a form 1040 Section SE to figure out what part of my paltry profits I have to donate to Social Security Taxes and Income Taxes. And then I get a 1098 from my mortgage company that tells me how much I paid in mortgage interest, property taxes, and homeowners insurance. What that means is that I have to reference two other instruction booklets. To top it off, I have a source of supplemental income... yep, one more form... Schedule E, and one more booklet to read.

It wouldn’t be so bad except that all these schedule booklets refer you to yet more IRS publications you must consult or you’ll get your taxes wrong... and, as we all know, that could have some nasty consequences. Odd’s are you’ll pay more and get less on your refund if the IRS decides they have to correct your goofs.

It’s not that my taxes are overly complicated... I’m not exactly in the higher income bracket any more. It’s more like doing them is a giant pain in the a$$ (I think that’s an appropriate spelling, don’t you?).

Why are the rules so complicated? Easy, they were written by lawyers, who don’t speak or write language you or I can understand, even though there was a directive to write laws and rules in “plain English” sometime back. Law school apparently stamps out “plain English” and replaces it with (what they consider more precise) legalese. Of course anyone who has had to deal with lawyers is well aware that precision isn’t their strong point... with all those whereas-es. here-to-fores, whereupons, and so forth, their precision translates into your giant weasel worded document.

For years, I have hoped against hope that the IRS code would be scrapped in favor of a flat tax system. You know something that’s straightforward, simple, and fair. That way we could get rid of all those lawyers and IRS Certified Public A$$holes... er, Accountants, and I’d get my fishing time back.

At least Texas has it’s part of income taxes done right... they don’t have any. Y’all have a wonderful rest of the week... and if you haven’t yet done your taxes, well, good luck and keep the antacids handy.