Tuesday, April 15, 2003

A taxing subject

OK, so here's my take on why the self-employed hate tax day even more than everyone else:

First of all, if you work a job where tax is not automatically taken out of your paychecks, you don't just pay in a lump sum on April 15. You're supposed to pay "quarterly" during the year--basically busting out the crystal ball and guessing what you're going to make during the rest of the year and sending in the appropriate percentage. Now, I'm not sure what genius dreamed this up, but the due date for the first "quarter" of the new year is....April 15! So even if you don't owe for last year, you still shell out something on this day anyway...and if you do happen to owe (i.e. the crystal ball didn't work) then you have to pay twice on the same day. That's certainly not very cool...

And oh yeah, the reason i put "quarters" in parentheses is because they don't truly divide the year up into four parts. They come in April, June, September and January. (I think somebody over there must've flunked geometry.) So if you have to pay twice in April, then they hit you again two months later instead of the logical three. (Imagine football being like that: OK, the first quarter will last only 10 minutes, but the third quarter will go for 20. Huh???).

But my real rant is aimed at the other way that the self-employed take it on the chin. Not too many people are aware of this, I think, but...you know that Social Security they take out of your paycheck (assuming you work a "normal" job)? Well, that's only half of what SS actually gets; your employer contributes a matching amount. But if you are your employer, you have to pay both halves! Now you might say, well, that's fair, that way everyone pays proportionally the same amount. And while that may be true, there's also this angle: If you work for a company, they can make you retire at a certain age. If you are your company, you can work as long as you want to (granted, if you make too much it cuts into your Social Security that you start getting sometime in your 60s, I think). It's one thing if you're actually incorporated and have more than one person in your "company"...but to me, this just seems like sticking it to the little guy.

Maybe as I get older I'll change my opinion of retirement, but for now I subscribe to every musician's closet fantasy: Expiring on the bandstand, at a ripe old age, after a really good solo. Maybe the future fair maiden of Sunday's blog will change my mind on that, heh heh.

But for now, at least I get my free burrito tonight. :-)

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