Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tax Day Musing

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.



  1. My husband and I had a ritual for the first few years after we were married. Before we mailed our 'married filing jointly' return, we gave it a good stomp, spit on it, and then threw it in the mailbox. I know. Icky. But so satisfying.

  2. My husband and I were actually looking forward to tax time because after the addition on my house, we needed that return. lol

  3. Mirka, only you could write something amusing about taxes ... I wish taxes were like tithing, something just off the top and be done with it. Easy-peasy. Thankfully, my husband has more interest in all these things, so he not only brings home the bacon, but cooks it and makes sure the govt. gets a cut. If I bring home a few beans, it's nice.

  4. Interesting perspective. Unfortunately, I've read and heard that the honor system may not continue to work so well. With the huge cutbacks in funding to the IRS, they aren't going to be able to do nearly as many audits as they have in the past. At least some people at the IRS fear that without the possible threat of an audit, we may lose the majority compliance with the tax procedure we've had in the past. Our taxation system works partly because most of us feel that everybody is paying taxes and it's only fair for us to do our part. But the IRS person I heard on PBS said that they fear if lots of people don't pay (because the gamble of no audit is better), then the rest of the people will soon resent paying because it's no longer a fair system.

    1. Here's another way to look at paying taxes positively-- it means we made some money :)

  5. I don't exactly have an excruciating time over sorting out the tax matters though I don't enjoy it either. Just glad it's all over and done with here in Singapore, too.