Thursday, April 15, 2010
Explaining Taxes to Kids
Today, “tax day”, has to be my absolute least favorite day of the year.
I’ve loathed taxes since the late 80’s when I was around 16 years old. That’s the time when I got my first minimum wage paycheck after working nearly two weeks straight one summer.
I still remember that mysterious sealed blank white envelope. I ran home, smelled it, tore the thing open in excitement, held the magical piece of paper in the air in the direction of the sun to see the beautiful watermark (“Official Document”) only to be completely traumatized at how much the government and something called “FICA” took out. The check was less than $17.
That was the first day I truly swore. Not for minutes, but for days. Nothing cheered me up, not even my newly acquired Depeche Mode 101 CD.
Then being the good kid that I was, I listened to my great-grandmother (she lived through the great depression) and opened a savings account getting a paltry .002% interest rate. Honestly I think I had a better chance earning more by planting pennies in the ground and praying for rain on a leap year.
Given the unfortunate circumstances, I still somehow happened to earn something like $5 that year. And then months later I got something called a 1099 telling me that I was subject to taxes on the $5 bucks that I earned. That’s the year I started lending money to kids on the playground and charging a 30% interest with a pre-payment penalty "off-the-books." I didn’t ask for that life, taxes made me do it.
Yes, my contempt for taxes started early.
Please don’t try to tell me why taxes are good because you’ll be wrong. I’ve heard just about every reason why taxes are a respectable thing, “how are we going to pay for the sun?” “Taxes! That’s how!”
Honestly, at this point. I really don’t care. Ask me that when I’m all pale and begging, “I need sun! I need sun!” Maybe I’ll care then, but right now if I were on Facebook for real, I would be no fan of the IRS.
If I ever do get the opportunity to start my own country (the one with a planned KFC franchise on it) the first thing I would order, besides a double-down, is not to tax everything in the world. I would be a fair dictator and just tax the things I’m not fond of, like, Kevin Costner movies and Justin Bieber.
Tonight, while writing a check to pay even more taxes my daughter asked me, “Daddy? Why are you crying?” I replied, “Because if I don’t pay even more taxes, these really bad people called ‘the IRS’ will send me to Guantanamo Bay.”