In Which I Complain about How Big My Tax Return Is

The Producers (Deluxe Edition)I know–what idiot complains when his tax return is too big? Don’t get me wrong–I’m really happy to be getting the money, and there are certainly many different ways I can use it. But where does that money come from? It doesn’t come from me. I’m very careful to have them withhold practically no federal taxes from my paycheck–I’m not fond of giving the government an interest free loan each year. But I get back what little I had taken out, and then much more on top of that.

I posted about this on my Facebook account, and several of my friends spoke up, detailing how they’re in a much different boat, tax-wise. They pay more than they get back, even though they’re not in that different of a boat than me. (Well . . . maybe. I’m in a family of four, with a single paycheck. Some of them are families of two with two paychecks. Come to think of it . . . that’s a very different situation.) Still. I don’t think it’s fair that I get a bunch of money from people who worked hard for it. I think the tax burden should be shouldered by all–not just the well off. We all live in this country, we all should pay for the privilege . . . Unless I know that my bags of money are coming from Paris Hilton. In which case, I’m fine with it.

What really gets me is that the tax code is so convoluted I needed to pay someone else to help me file. That’s money that could have gone to the poor and needy, not some accountant or faceless corporation. We have this inordinately difficult tax code, where all sorts of laws are made to levy taxes, and then additional laws are made to let people out of paying those taxes. It makes it impossible for a layperson like myself to be able to understand any of it, so there’s this industry built around it, to make lots of people money to do something that ought to be easy and straightforward.

If I knew that 10% or 15% of my paycheck was going to go to Uncle Sam, then I could count on that. At the end of the year, you add up everything you made, you subtract your expenses, and then you pay a flat tax on the result. No exemptions. Forget child credits or home mortgage waivers or whatever gobbledygook they have out there. Everybody pays it. If you only made $10 the whole year, the government gets $1 or $1.50. If you made $100 billion, it gets proportionately more. You’re not penalized for getting married, you’re not penalized for making more one year than another. Everybody pays.

Now I’m not saying we do away with the welfare system. That’s necessary and should still exist, but it should be separate from taxes. If you make any money and you’re on welfare, you still pay your taxes on that money–and then you end up getting more back in a separate paycheck to you from whatever agency doles that out. But do away with all this red tape. Streamline the whole process, and make it easy enough anyone can understand it and do it–at least for individuals.

Of course, I’m not an economist, and there are likely lots of things I’m oversimplifying here. Anyone care to set me straight? Please–discuss.

4 thoughts on “In Which I Complain about How Big My Tax Return Is”

  1. Here here. I am soooo for the flat tax even if I have to pay more. Not that I want to deprive accountants of their jobs, but it is silly that you almost have to use one.


  2. I’m in for the flat tax in theory… but I think it’d kill the housing market right now… and that’s no good for anyone. Maybe when it improves….

  3. The problem I see with the flat tax is that everyone would have to pay more like 30-35 percent because of the uneven wealth distribution in this country. Those at the bottom right now, as you are pointing out, pay almost nothing or get a refund even when they didn’t pay. Those at the top of the food chain are paying to support the whole country, and they are paying in the high 30s. Unfortunately the people making 30k a year putting in 10% wouldn’t make up enough of a difference for all those making $25 million only putting in 2.5 million instead of 9 million.

    I would be in favor of scrapping the entire income tax system all together and instituting a national sales/property tax instead. Those who earn more and buy extravagant things would pay much more, and those who are just scraping by would pay very little. Basic necessities like food and medical care would not be taxed. Luxury items like diamonds, boats, vacation homes, etc. could carry a tax premium. Much simpler, no loopholes.

  4. Becky–Right there with you.

    Hilary–I think the transition would have to be a gradual one. Not all at once. Otherwise people would REALLY freak out.

    Susie–Interesting point. I know the Czech Republic gets by with a flat tax of around 15% to 20%. From what I’ve seen, the IRS gets about $8,500 per capita under the current system. Would it really have to be 30-35% to cover it? I’m really bad with the numbers, but it seems like it would be less than that.

    Then again, the system you describe sounds fine to me, too. I don’t really care how it’s done–I’d just like there to be more equality in the process.

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