Paying the Tax Man – And the Postman
Pejman Yousefzadeh guest blogger “joebwan” offers some sage advice for last-minute tax filers:
Now isn’t the time to cheap out. Unless you are filing electronically, you ought to spring for the extra $4.25 to file your return “certified mail, return receipt requested.” It’s well worth the time and trouble of going to the post office to get that postmarked receipt. The tax law is full of sad stories of taxpayers who lost thousands of dollars because they didn’t have a postmark to document that they filed on time. Don’t let it happen to you!
Yup. I spent 35 minutes in line at the local post office this morning doing precisely that. An extra ten bucks mailing in the state and federal return, added to a few hundred for the accountant, just makes tax season a little more special.
We waited to mail in our returns until the last minute because it went with a sizable check, a result of my having been self-employed the last half of the year and not withholding enough. (Thankfully, it was well within allowable margins, so it didn’t come with penalties.) I suspect people would like paying taxes even less than they do if they had to mail a check at the end of the year. Under the current system, most people get refunds of money they overpaid throughout the year and think they’re getting a late Christmas present from the Uncle Sam.
While we pay an inordinate percentage of our income in taxes, I ultimately don’t mind it all that much. While the burden could certainly be lowered if all the spending I considered wasteful were eliminated, running a continental superpower is expensive and paying for that is a duty of citizenship. I actually find the burden of record keeping and filing more annoying than the taxes themselves.
UPDATE: Matt Stoler independently expresses almost the identical sentiment as my last paragraph. Oddly, he does so to demonstrate how superior he is to “unpatriotic,” “embittered,” “childish and immoral,” conservatives who “hate democracy.”
Surely, the percentage of American conservatives who fit those descriptions is no larger than that of liberals who do. No doubt, similar adjectives are used by the Ann Coulter types to pander to the sense of moral superiority of their base and code worded variants are used by politicians and others to throw red meat to partisan crowds. But why is this sort of nonsense so prevalent among the responsible commentariat?