Friday, April 19, 2013

This is What Taxes Are

As far as I know and have gathered over my sheltered little shell-of-a-life, taxes are money you pay to the government in repayment for living here. Sort of like country rent.

For the most part, this is the first year I have not been working under the table as a babysitter. That is actually a lie, because I had taxes on quite a few professional shows I worked in as an actor. Also that one summer I waitressed for 2 months. But my kind father, along with his handy accountant, allowed me to remain a sort of swaddled-baby-actor/babysitter for a while. This morning I was trying to type "God" into my phone, and instead I typed "Dad". Analyze THAT!

So anyway, now that I am turning into a terrible toddler version of an adult, and learning to walk and considering potty training myself, here are the other things I have learned about taxes over the years:

They take from your income because they really need money for roads and wars and stuff. So taking from your income makes sense because that's where the money's at, yo! This works out, sort of, because they tax people with higher income higher, and lower income lower. Generally. I hear.

I have learned recently that there are federal taxes, state taxes, and in New York Citayyyy: City Taxezzzz. And you can screw yourself over by checking the wrong box on your W-2 forms, because then you get all your money upfront but forget that you have to pay it back when the spring rolls around. If you check the other box on the W-2, then you get way less money week to week, but come spring, you may be refunded and smiling.

I also hear if you own property, you have to pay taxes on that shit, too. So you rent a life in America with your taxes, buy a home, then pay rent on life in America on the home you bought in the life you rent in America. It is all fine though, because school buses and firefighters and libraries are really nice to have. And that is all part of renting life in America. (This is not a comment on the American system. This is an educational post on taxes.)

You can lie on your taxes, but if you are audited, you will go to JAIL like the girl's dad from my 2nd grade class. She thought he was in China for 2 years, but we all knew he was in jail for tax fraud.

You can "write things off" pertaining to your business. If you are in the business of being an actor, you can write off haircuts and gel-tipped-nail manicures and audition clothes and.... basically everything, because actors can be very tricky little bastards. I have never done this. Heresay.

Writing things off doesn't mean the government refunds everything you bought for your business like I hoped it meant. It means that ... they refund some taxy percentage of the items so you are not paying taxes on... the items your bought for your business. I have no idea if that is true. I just made that up. Google it yourself.

There is such a thing as a 1099 Tax form for freelance-y people and would-be-under-the-table people, and apparently these are bitches to work with, tax-wise.

Non-wealthy and wealthy people alike often pay other potentially non-wealthy people to professionally figure out their tricky taxes, and pay them a lot of money to figure out how to not pay as much money... so I assume it evens out. But, it creates jobs for CPAs and keeps our American economy going strong in the springtime.

April 15th is the day, man! I literally went to the bank, had them carve me a check from my account, put it in an envelope and mailed it at 1 pm on April 15th this year. My version of sky-diving. And no, I did not sleep the entire night before: "Omg omg omg I can't believe I haven't mailed my taxes yet. I don't have any more checks. What was I waiting for? Omg omg omg".

I have learned that Turbo Tax can be free if you don't let them trick you into clicking the wrong button! Who knew?

Here is the moral of the story:

The more you have, the more your owe. It is a classic case of "be careful what you wish for". This concept is one of the reasons I have realized I will never own a house, even if somebody gave me the money for the house. Because I may never have the money to pay for the taxes, let alone keep the roof from caving in and paint from peeling off the siding.

Next year when I turn 26 and have to learn all about health insurance, I will teach you what I've learned then, too.