Friday, May 21, 2010

22 Years Of Paying Federal Taxes

22 years ago today, I graduated from college with my 10 month old child in the arms of my lovely wife in the audience, and almost $60K in student loan debt, an entry level engineering job waiting for me at Michelin Tire's Spartanburg South Carolina radial truck tire plant, and the keys to a brand new '88 Honda Civic EX sedan in my pocket. It was the first time I'd ever made enough income to Owe federal taxes - no longer being able to draw on the earned income tax credit for individuals with wages below the poverty line.

22 years later, I now pay almost as much in payroll taxes each year, as I annually grossed in my first post-college job. The '88 Civic was taken from me by a drunk who T-boned my car at 6am while I was on my way to work on Thursday morning in 1995. That 10 month old has now graduated from college himself, and getting earned income tax credits, without the burden of student loans, or the growing job market that his father entered. Dr Desert Flower is no longer working retail on commission at JC Penny, but is just as lovely today as the day I married her.


  1. And all you have to show for these 22 years and several tens of thousands of dollars is two ongoing wars, a loving wife, and a college graduate son.

  2. Well, I've not been forced to learn and use Mandarin yet, by my nation's largest creditor, so that's a good thing. And there's lots more hummingbirds and lavender here than we ever had in SC or IN, so that's good. Of course I am underwater on my home now, by MORE than I paid for our first FHA loan starter house in Indiana... so it all sorta balances out in the big picture I guess.

  3. JJP - It does seem like just yesterday that we graduated. The day after our commencement my "house" apt ($250/month for 3 of us) was literally torn down as we drove away, condemned a month earlier (still safe apparently for 1 more month) this is where I got my first taste of slumlords. Home ownership is wonderful as long as you are on the upside. I started earning the net paycheck prior to home ownership so when the tax benefits arrived I was pleased. After working for economists in the public arena, I did learn a few items that stick today.

    Tax avoidance is cool, evasion is not. You only pay taxes when you are making money. Managing your income results in more money than managing your taxes. Your refund can only be as large as what was withheld in the first place.

    Many of us from 22 years back have led successful careers and no doubt have paid boo-coo taxes, but you are right, the wives and sons make it all worthwhile.

  4. Great points, maxcat...and a nice way of putting it. I often hear wingnuts talk about not making investments or avoiding making potentially good moves because they don't want to pay taxes. But in most situations, that's just plain irrational.


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