The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

April 13, 2013

Deep in the heart of taxes, it’s a state of mass confusion

ENID, Okla. — Have you done your taxes yet?

Me, neither.

So will you be spending your Sunday locked in a room with all your pertinent tax paperwork, brow furrowed, brain straining, trying to beat Monday’s tax deadline?

Me, neither.

I don’t do taxes. No, I’m no scofflaw, I married a math teacher for whom tax forms and other numbers-based puzzles are like candy, she can’t get enough.

My bride doesn’t exactly love doing our taxes each year, but she doesn’t seem to mind, either. It’s better than me doing it.

We both would both have been in the federal pen years ago had the task been entrusted to me.

I hate even the thought of having to do my own taxes. But many people actually enjoy the task, about one-third of all Americans, according to a recent survey.

Pew Research Center reports 34 percent of all those surveyed say they either love (5 percent) or like (29 percent) filing their taxes. Meanwhile 56 percent either dislike (30 percent) or downright hate (26 percent) doing taxes.

Those with family incomes under $30,000 were more likely to say they like or love doing their taxes, while those whose incomes were $75,000 or above were more likely to say they disliked or hated taxes.

The primary reason people said they enjoyed tax time was because they liked getting a refund. Others said they thought they were good at it and it was easy for them.

The tax haters said the process was too complicated, required too much paperwork, was inconvenient or too time-consuming.

In a Quinnipiac University study, about two-thirds of Americans said the federal income tax system was too complicated and they relied on someone else to prepare and file their taxes. These are people after my own heart.

America runs on taxes, the money we give the government every year paying for everything from salaries for bureaucrats to aircraft carriers.

But that doesn’t mean Americans pay taxes happily.

In fact another survey, this one conducted by ABC News and the Washington Post, found that a strong majority of Americans support their fellow citizens’ right to pay as little tax as possible, within the constraints of the law. Eighty five percent of those surveyed said they are fine with people doing everything they can, legally, to pay as little as possible to Uncle Sam.

Plenty of famous people hated paying taxes. Al Capone, for instance, and look where it got him.

“What first was plunder assumed the softer name of revenue,” wrote Thomas Paine.

“If you make any money, the government shoves you in the creek once a year with it in your pockets, and all that don’t get wet you can keep,” quipped Will Rogers.

“The hardest thing to understand in the world is the income tax,” said Albert Einstein.

Even the great Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, hated taxes. He, in fact, is now being called a tax cheat.

Old Bill regularly withheld his taxes and was frequently threatened with jail for non-payment, according to a study of court and tax archives by researchers at Aberystwyth University in Wales.

He also was fined often for hoarding grain, malt and barley and reselling them during a time of food shortages in merry old England.

He took the money and sank it into real estate, enabling Shakespeare to retire in 1613 as the largest landowner in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Want to take a break from slaving over your taxes?

Check out www.taxe vaders.net, which features a video game modeled after the classic “Space Invaders.” It allows you to blast corporations labeled as tax evaders, like BP, General Electric, CitiBank, Chevron, Verizon, Facebook and others, which, according to the website, cost the rest of us nearly $100 billion every year. It’s harmless fun and beats the heck out of doing taxes.

 Of course, we all pay taxes nearly every day, like sales taxes, gasoline taxes, etc. And, depending on where you live, you may pay more than in other places.

In New York, if you buy a bagel and have it sliced and toasted, it will cost you extra.

In Pennsylvania if you wash your car at one of those do-it-yourself places and decide to use a coin-operated vacuum to clean out the interior, the state charges you a tax.

Alabama taxes playing cards, Colorado taxes you for getting a lid on your to-go latte, Kansas taxes hot air balloon rides, Texas charges a tax to enter a strip club, while Arkansas taxes tattoos.

If you are among those who will be feverishly working to beat the midnight Monday filing deadline, take heart — some local eateries are offering you some tax day deals.

Chili’s will have a coupon on its Facebook page for a free appetizer or dessert with purchase of an adult entree on Monday.

Arby’s will offer free curly fries or potato cakes on tax day. Sonic will extend their happy hour half-price drinks deal all day long.

Take heart — once your taxes are done, you don’t have to worry about them for another year. Until then, consider these words of the Bard of Claremore, Will Rogers: “The difference between death and taxes is death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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