Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

Home · Articles · News · Other Opinions · It‘s tax time
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It‘s tax time

Harley L. Sachs - April 7th, 2008
Because of some past foreign employment records, in addition to our annual U.S. federal income tax, I get tax forms for two very small foreign pensions.
Other than actually owing nothing abroad because the sums are so small, I do get an insight into tax filing practices in Sweden and Denmark. The tax forms of both countries consist of a single sheet of paper. No, they don’t say: 1) write down everything you earned, and, 2) send it. They do have high rates for those who earn enough to pay, but that’s another story.
Every year we go through the same routine with the IRS. Since I am the president of a struggling, miniscule corporation and have a losing business, I have more forms than the usual 1040EZ return to fill out. There are schedules A & B, C, D and E. There’s even a fiction the IRS has for a Foreign Tax Credit, a 1119, but by the time you go through all the arcane formulas it turns out the credit is zero anyway, so unless you are a puzzle freak it’s not worth the effort.
Even with a Ph.D. in language and literature and a work record of teaching technical writing (not accounting), the IRS instructions could as well be written in Sanskrit.
Convinced that the companies that are paid to prepare your taxes are in collusion with Congress and the IRS to make filing taxes so difficult that you have to provide them with lifetime employment, I refuse to hire them or buy the tax software. The result is that every year I make mistakes. Ah, well, it’s to be expected. The loyal civil servants at the Internal Revenue need me. I provide them with employment leading to hefty pensions. Like the old Smith Barney TV ad, “We make money the old fashioned way: we earn it,” I insist that the IRS earn their money by recalculating my returns.
These are not frivolous returns, mind you. I do my best, at least as well as the rest of the 50% of the American adult population which is functionally illiterate.
So last year when I filed for my refund, I miscalculated again. The IRS ran the numbers and decided that I had asked for too small a refund. They sent more money than I asked for. Then someone else calculated it again, and sent me another $22. I thought that after being reviewed twice I was done.
Ah, silly me. Now someone at the IRS has decided that I left something out and they want another $4,700; this on an income so small I’m too embarrassed to reveal it. It’s incredible. Seems I didn’t say how much the purchase price was of the stock my mother gave my wife about 30 years ago. All we know is that the sale netted us a capital gain of $11. That’s taxed, if I understand this correctly, at 15% as a long term capital gain. That’s $1.65, hardly worth the time it took the clerk to point this out.
Two other investments lost us a total of $653.27, which is more than my 2006 total income tax before this new bill. So how can I owe $4,700?
It’s beginning to smell like harassment.
I always invite the IRS to come and audit, bring a fishing rod, and plan to stay a few weeks. They won’t collect any more money than I already paid, which this year is nothing, but they will be paid handsomely for their time, be provided transportation and per diem, and if they buy a Michigan license may legally catch some fish — in season.
And of course if it is harassment, there’s always our congressman to write and the head of the IRS and the civil service commission suggesting that the nasty persons find other, more gainful employment. Blackwater pays a hefty salary for those mercenary security jobs in Iraq. Of course, in those jobs, instead of getting office paper cuts, you can get your head blown off. To each his own.
Some people do the New York Times crossword. I do my taxes, but never get them right. Ah, well.
Now, what’s your tax story?

Harley Sachs writes the Express ‘Technology‘ column.
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