The Christmas decorations are finally put up. The trees were hauled off during Large Trash Day two weeks ago. The grocery stores are full of Valentine’s Day candy. Dallas fluctuates between just-about-freezing north winds and warm, humid south winds that tear up the greenhouse and bring the palmetto bugs out of hiding. Yep, it’s winter, all right. Next on the agenda: tax time.
I’ll derail any arguments about taxation by stating that I don’t think anyone likes paying taxes. Even the swot in high school who swooned over getting homework over Christmas vacation doesn’t like paying taxes. That said, I understand that this is the price for having an advanced technological civilization. I also understand that most of the complaining about taxation comes down to whining about paying for things that you don’t necessarily like. Myself, I figure that if at least some of my federal income tax money goes to the National Weather Service, the National Science Foundation, and the Global Positioning System, I’m coming out ahead. When it comes to these and other government agencies and services that directly affect my life and livelihood, I just wish I had some way to give APHIS a bit more.
It’s the same situation with state sales taxes. Because of our wideranging oil and gas industry, Texas is one of the few states in the US that doesn’t charge a state income tax. To cover additional charges above and beyond the oil tax, though, we have a rather hefty sales tax, as well as state “sin taxes” on liquor, tobacco, and gasoline. Again, I could fuss about some of the silly and aggravating things on which the state spends its money, but I also figure that it’s a fair trade for decent roads, an exemplary Dallas mass transit system, public schools and libraries, and the Texas Department of Agriculture. If I have issues with how the rest of the money is spent, well, that’s why you keep an eye on your legislators.
About the only thing that I truly hate about tax time isn’t the money, or the people allocating it. It’s the actual process of filing. No matter the prior preparation, no matter how early you file, the process itself dredges up horrible memories of school essays and oral exams. Successfully defend your Ph.D thesis once, and you’re done. Tax time is that Ph.D defense every blasted year, no matter how kindly the folks at H&R Block. Sort the receipts and itemize the deductions to where even the most determined IRS auditor whistles in appreciation, and you’re still channeling your internal Dylan Moran: “‘What is your mother’s maiden name?’ What’s her first name? I just knew her as ‘Ma’! ‘Ma (Possibly Deceased)’.”
Oh, and did I mention that my sales taxes are charged quarterly? Every three months, the Czarina has grand fun shrieking “WHAT? WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?” at me. The scary part is that this never gets old.