February is the month when I stick pins in the Lord North and Oscar Underwood dolls sitting on the desk of my man cave. North was King George III’s prime minister, responsible for slapping the tax on tea that caused our colonists to dress up like Indians and throw tea bags and all in the harbor at Boston.
Underwood was President Woodrow Wilson’s floor guy in the 63rd Congress 105 years ago when on Feb. 3, 1913 the 16th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified, granting Congress the authority to collect income taxes.
February comes into play for me because that’s when I begin preparing my tax filing, just as Punxsutany Phil, the ground hog, is wrested from his cozy den to predict six more weeks of winter. What else to do except buy a new snow shovel, work on my taxes, and stick pins in the guys who started it all. Not a pretty thing to watch, but worth the early start to see if there is a refund in my future.
Taxing folks has never been very popular. At least not with the folks being taxed.
Our attitude started back there when the tea got dunked. It’s our money we say, reminding me of the time a Congressman was accosted on the Capitol steps by a man with a gun who growled “give me all your money.” To which the legislator haughtily replied : “Do you know who I am? I am a United States Congressman!” “Oh, right,” replied the robber. “Then give me all my money!” Of course Congress
(and State and local duly electeds) have been usurping our hard-earned greenbacks
for so long they really think of it as theirs. It’s one of the few things they actually do very well, dictating how and when to give our money back to them; or some of it back to us if we’re lucky enough to get a refund.
I am the first to admit of course that the newly legislated federal tax reform taking place this year is a step in the right direction. And though the current minority House leader thinks of the newly revised tax code as ”armageddon,” I think of it as “about time!” If there is anything that pleases us as we enter the new year, it’s that now we will be taxed less on our income. It isn’t that I mind paying taxes, local or federal, as long as I get representation. If we want the services provided us (okey, that we provide ourselves) someone has to pay for them. So, I don’t complain. Except maybe when I don’t get my money’s worth.
Like Friday night last when I hit a humongous pot hole in the dark on one of our local roadways. Lit up the dashboard like something from Star Wars, and knocked out the transmission. So $1,500 (plus tax) later I am seriously less than happy. The auto dealership of course was delirious. The towing service and the tax collectors too. While I’m glad to help the economy and preserve jobs, I wish there had been a different way to do it. On the other hand, I don’t pay taxes in the county that had yet to fill Little Grand Canyon, so it’s hard to complain too much. And any way I have bigger fish to fry: The Feds. Which means I’d better get back to my calculator.
What I think will really make me happy is when next February rolls around, I’ll be filling out a “postcard size” tax return instead of wading through reams of paper and wearing out my calculator for most of the month. In fact, I may wait til April 14 to fill it out. And, it would really warm the cockles of my heart if the postcard is pre-paid. On the other hand, even if it is, you can be assured it will be paid for by guess who? As has always been said: There is nothing as sure as death and taxes. For the time being, given the choice, I’ll take the latter.
So, bring on your prolonged winter Punxsutawney Phil in your comfy little den … you’ll find me in mine, doing you know what for the rest of the month; figuring out how to write-off that new snow shovel. And who knows, maybe even getting a refund.
Mel Grossman is an area resident and guest columnist.