April fifteen just about here, and all over our great nation folks are slaving away to get numbers in order and pay, or at lease pay homage to that other sure thing, taxes.
A dear friend all the way from my elementary school days, from the far-far-away country we grew up in, was celebrating finishing the deed. Taxes done, wipe brow, let’s raise a steaming hot chocolate to that.
Unlike me, my childhood friend, who now lives minutes away from me, had had a grown up career in the homeland, Israel. Before she came to the U.S.A. she was already a gainfully employed physician, working in hospitals there, and paying taxes. I came to America when I was still a teen.
I have no recollection of ever seeing my parents, or any adult, slaving to prepare their taxes. I don’t remember any “Tax Day” or tax-time. Israelis pay a higher tax rate than most, so what was I missing? I shared this with my old friend. Where were we when the grown ups paid taxes? Was I in a coma, or am I suffering some memory block because it was so traumatic and better forgotten?
“Here, in the U.S.A., taxes are mandatory but the reporting is based on an honor system,” said my friend. “The government expects you to tell them all you have earned. In Israel taxes are taken off the top of every payment you ever get. Period.”
“So it’s not a report-and-possibly-get-audited, but basically we trust you to do the right thing, like we have here?” I said.
“Trust? Trust you to pay? Are you kidding me? In Israel?” said my friend.
And then it occurred to me. For all the craziness of our system, the impossible-to-follow maze of rules and deductions we’ve got to navigate, we have something to celebrate.
When it comes to reporting, we have an honor system.
Call it a bit of light in an otherwise no-fun day. Cheers.