Monday, April 18, 2011

Today is Procrastinators' Day

On this last day for tax procrastinators, AOL News ran a big story on how many “ordinary people” (rich and poor alike) pay no income taxes.  Here is the link.

The April 15 deadline was moved to April 18 because on April 15, Washington DC celebrated Emancipation Day. The taxes are never due on a legal holiday, federal, state or “quasi-state”.

Only a few years did I go to the wire. When I lived in New York City in the 1970s, I had to do federal, state and city income taxes.  I do remember driving to downtown Dallas in 1980 and, in a queue of older cars (I had a Chevette then) handing a return to a postal worker on Elm Street at the last minute.

I can remember those glorious libertarianesque days in the middle or late 90s when Steve Forbes was talking about a flat tax.

The trouble is that any tax policy change in the law at all tends to change the order of computation, greatly exaggerating the effects of some behaviors and diluting others. Remember the blunderous “Tax Reform Act of 1986”?

For my mother’s estate, the entire preparation charge this year was over $1200.  The year someone deceases is always more complicated (particularly when there is a trust), but you can see how government sets up everyone to get their bite.

HRBlocks’ website does show you how to check your own refund status. You just need a ssn (watch your firewall!) and refund amount.  The IRS said this morning that it had experienced “processing delays” and that mine wouldn’t finish until “end of month”. 

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