Have you filed your tax return yet?
I filed ours this week. Actually, this is the first time I've ever had to write a check and send it off to Uncle Sam (I had to write one to our friends in Sacramento, too). While I didn't know the exact figures before I sat down to prepare our return, I knew some kind of tax bill was coming.
And as much as I didn't like writing those checks on the one hand, I didn't mind writing them on the other. First of all, it meant that I hadn't given the state or federal government an interest free loan over the course of the year. Granted, the interest I earn in my bank accounts in today's rate environment is incredibly meager, so even if I had made an interest free loan it wouldn't have cost me very much, but it's the principle of the thing. When was the last time the government gave me an interest free loan? Ummm, never.
Second, I knew why I was writing the checks. Simply put, my income was higher this year. I suppose I could have changed my tax witholdings to compensate, but I knew I'd be paying in at least as much as my last years' tax (and avoid the penalty), so... once again, why change my witholdings to give the government an interest free loan?
I do understand a lot of the griping and compaining that goes on this time of year. When I look at my total tax bill I, like many of you, scratch my head and say, "That's a lot of money! Imagine what I could do with it." Like many of you, it wouldn't bother me as much if I thought the government were spending my tax dollars effeciently, but... governmental effeciency is a bit of an oxymoron, isn't it?
There's a lot of talk and press out there about who pays what in taxes. The rich don't pay enough! The not-so-rich don't pay enough! Which most of the time boils down to "Everyone (but me, of course, ahem) should shoulder more of the burden!"
While I have my opinion as to how the tax burden should be spread, when I look at how much I paid in all kinds of taxes this year (and those who live outside California should be grateful, our overall state tax burden in the Golden State is higher than yours is most likely), I can't complain -- well, I can, and I did, but not too much. After all, our family had a higher income in 2009 than we did in 2008. In this economy, with so many people unemployed, many for a long time now, I can imagine them saying, "Dude, what are you complaining about? That's a problem I would so love to have right now."
And they'd be right.
So... I'm glad I paid more in income tax this year. I hope you did too. And if you didn't, due to unemployment, a reduction in salary, or a lot of other possible reasons that are all too common in our economy today, I hope your income tax bill goes up in 2010.
After all, as problems go, it really is a pretty nice one to have.