Ken Poirier - February 2009
Someone once said, "There are two things that are unavoidable in life, death and taxes". I don't know who said this, but they obviously never heard of zombies and are not very good at math.
It is uncertain who invented taxes. The bible says it was Egypt, while historians argue that it may have been China or India. The idea is simple. Rulers need money so they can hire more people and make more weapons to take money from people without weapons.
Since the invention of money, people have been coming up with creative ways to avoid paying taxes. In the time of the Romans, the people of Alberobello, Italy would build their houses out of stones. When they heard of the roman tax collectors coming they would take their house apart into a pile of rocks so they would not have to pay property tax. In the 1600s the Scottish would fill their windows with hay so they would not have to pay a window tax to the English.
Through out the time, taxes have been a subject of literature and the arts from Shakespeare to Henry Thoreau to Ron Paul, and most recently the subject of Freedom to Fascism, a film by Aaron Russo.
According to Aaron Russo's film, you are not required by law to pay a federal income tax. This may be true. But last I checked, you didn't need to break a law to be thrown in jail. So I don't recommend that you just out right not pay your taxes (but if it works, let me know!). There is only two ways to all together 100% not pay federal income taxes, that I know of:
#1 is to live in Washington, D.C., which is technically not part of the United States and therefor you don't have to pay taxes (same goes for Puerto Rico and other U.S. Territories).
#2 is to be poor. Even though the government will take money out of your paycheck and tell you if you make over $8,500 you have pay taxes, this is not true. The IRS cannot tax you if you live below the national poverty line, which is $10,500. So, if come the end of November you have made over $10k but less then $10.5k, you might as well take December off, cause you can work all month long and be $1300 poorer at the end of the month then you were at the beginning.
Being poor isn't all that bad. You can make ends meet by getting free food from EBT, you local food bank, or (God forbid) from church dinners. Instead of buying things, you could trade your skills in your local community.
Ok, I know some of you are saying "I can't live like that! I need my SUV and my sushi bars." Understandable, I used to live like that. It's a very comforting way to live. If you are going to shoot for the brass ring, play smart. Watch the numbers.
How much tax you pay is based on how much money you make. But instead of everyone paying 10%, it is adjusted by "brackets". These tax brackets work very much like weight classes in armature wrestling. As in wrestling, where you want to be at the top of your weight class (not the bottom), you want to be likewise in your tax bracket. (Find out about tax brackets at www.moneychimp.com/features/tax_brackets.htm)
Just as an example, lets say you are single and making $32K a year. You are currently paying 15% on your income. So at the end of the year, you've made $27,200. Your boss decides to offer you a raise to $33k a year. This would put you in the next tax bracket of 25%. At the end of the year you would end up making $24,750. That is $2450 less then you made before you got your raise!
The second thing you can do to save money on your taxes is stop letting the government take money out of your pay check! You don't have to pay them that money for another 18 months, why are you giving it to them now? Why wait to "get it back in April"? That is your money! Hold on to it.
You could take that money and invest it or even put it into a savings account and earn interest on it all year long, interest you can use to pay your taxes. Just remember when you fill out your W-4, claim at least 4 deductions or better yet claim exempt status, (You can always change it when you fill out your EZ10 form). You boss will most likely try to talk you out of doing this, don't listen to them, they don't know anymore about taxes then you do!
The third thing you can do is keep receipts of every thing you buy. Why? When I was working as a pizza delivery guy, one of my customers was an accountant. She asked me for a receipt, which I thought was odd being a cash purchase for a family dinner. What she told me next changed my life forever. Apparently, you can deduct all of your state taxes from you federal income tax!
So, in other words, state income tax, sales tax, gas tax, cigarette tax, bridge tolls, or any other state tax you pay is all 100% deductible!
The fourth thing you can do is learn to play the guitar. Well, it doesn't necessarily have to be a guitar, but by dedicating a few hours a week to performing in public you can write off your instrument, sound equipment, props, costumes, travel expenses (if you perform wherever you go), and even one simple meal per day! Beside the world needs more music.
Now, after all this you are still paying taxes, I am having trouble feeling sorry for you, because you obviously make a butt load of money. Now, you fit into a group of people I like to call "the unhappily well off". This group of people probably complains more about paying taxes then anyone, because they pay more taxes then anyone.
You are one of these people if you catch yourself saying, "I wouldn’t mind paying taxes if I got to choose what they spend it on." Well, guess what. You can! All you have to do is join a new nation. It, also, just happens to be the greatest nation in the world. It's called DONATION! That's right! The government can't take your money if you give it away first! The best part of donation is that you get to choose how the money is spent.
So, let’s say you want to stop the war in the middle east. You can donate your money to Stopthewarnow.org. Or let's say you want to send our troops some relief you can donate your money to the USO. Maybe you want to legalize marijuana, donate your money to NORML. If you think the government should be spending the money on reducing the national debt, you can put your hard earned dollars directly into reducing the national debt at www.treasurydirect.gov. Personally, Habitat for Humanity gets my 10% a year.
Remember your dollar is the vote you cast everyday. Money makes this world go round. So make it spin for you.