Letters

Letters 05-23-2016

Examine The Priorities Are you disgusted about closing schools, crumbling roads and bridges, and cuts everywhere? Investigate funding priorities of legislators. In 1985 at the request of President Reagan, Grover Norquist founded Americans for Tax Reform (ATR). For 30 years Norquist asked every federal and state candidate and incumbent to sign the pledge to vote against any increase in taxes. The cost of living has risen significantly since 1985; think houses, cars, health care, college, etc...

Make TC A Community For Children Let’s be that town that invests in children actively getting themselves to school in all of our neighborhoods. Let’s be that town that supports active, healthy, ready-to-learn children in all of our neighborhoods...

Where Are Real Christian Politicians? As a practicing Christian, I was very disappointed with the Rev. Dr. William C. Myers statements concerning the current presidential primaries (May 8). Instead of using the opportunity to share the message of Christ, he focused on Old Testament prophecies. Christ gave us a new commandment: to love one another...

Not A Great Plant Pick As outreach specialist for the Northwest Michigan Invasive Species Network and a citizen concerned about the health of our region’s natural areas, I was disappointed by the recent “Listen to the Local Experts” feature. When asked for their “best native plant pick,” three of the four garden centers referenced non-native plants including myrtle, which is incredibly invasive...

Truth About Plants Your feature, “listen to the local experts” contains an error that is not helpful for the birds and butterflies that try to live in northwest Michigan. Myrtle is not a native plant. The plant is also known as vinca and periwinkle...

Ask the Real Plant Experts This letter is written to express my serious concern about a recent “Listen To Your Local Experts” article where local nurseries suggested their favorite native plant. Three of the four suggested non-native plants and one suggested is an invasive and cause of serious damage to Michigan native plants in the woods. The article is both sad and alarming...

My Plant Picks In last week’s featured article “Listen to the Local Experts,” I was shocked at the responses from the local “experts” to the question about best native plant pick. Of the four “experts” two were completely wrong and one acknowledged that their pick, gingko tree, was from East Asia, only one responded with an excellent native plant, the serviceberry tree...

NOTE: Thank you to TC-based Eagle Eye Drone Service for the cover photo, taken high over Sixth Street in Traverse City.

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

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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