Archive for Taxes

Tax Day

Posted in Economy, Life with tags , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2013 by urbannight

It is that day again. 

I did mine and they were electronical shipped off already. 

My roommate had his done and back already.

Have you finished yours?

Did you owe, did you get money back?

I expect the refund I have from the feds will be taken to pay on the error they claimed I made on my 2007 return.  I think they are wrong and redoing it came up the same as I turned in the first time.  All I can say is I must be missing something. 

But fighting the IRS on it was a major energy drain so I’m just paying it off.  Slowly.  Because that’s the best I can do.  It’s awfully hard to fight the IRS. 

 

The Lie of Home Ownership and other myths of the Supremacy of Modern American Life.

Posted in Apartments, Economy, Life, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 9, 2012 by urbannight

One of the hallmarks of the ‘American Dream’ is home ownership. The phrase “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” originally meant life, liberty and the pursuit of property. (Or so we were taught in my college government course)

But I would argue that it is a myth. It isn’t really true.

Lets say you buy a house and over the years you get it paid off early. So now you feel it is truly yours and you no longer have to pay the bank. You have a deed that states that house and bit of dirt it sits on is your personal property. You still have to pay the government to actually have the right to own it. If you don’t, the government can seize it. Even thought you OWN it. It used to be that the local government could seize it to put a road through as well. But that law has changed. Now they can seize it if they want to build a mall there or if they want to put in a country club.

Ultimately, this means you DON’T really own anything. Despite what you paid to get that piece of paper saying you own it. At least you got a tax break on it. Oh wait, no. Romney wants to take that away. So you will no longer get that deductible on your taxes, which is about the only reason, anymore, that they say ‘owning’ is better than renting. 

At least if you rent, Renters insurance is less costly than home owners insurance and if you need something fixed, you just call maintenance and you don’t end up with a repair bill. 

Seems to me, renting is now the way to go.

Basically, home ownership is more like having a feudal estate.  You don’t ‘own’ the land, it is loaned to you by the government for you to manage for them.  And then you send in a portion of what you earn from the land in ‘taxes’ to the king.  Only people don’t usually ‘work’ a lot that a house sits on for income.  So you pay income taxes on the work you DO do and then you pay property taxes from the same work income. 

Wow.   I think those feudal landowners’ probably had it better.  They only paid one tax.  They just had to fight for their lord when war happened.  Oh yeah, we do that too.  Sometimes through volunteer service and sometimes through a draft.  And, sometimes, people who volunteered and served their term of service are not allowed to leave when their time is over.  So maybe they were still better off back then.

At least we have better medical treatment.  Although, for an industrialized, first world nation, we have the worst rates for easily prevented death from asthma.  We also have a strangely high infant mortality rate from other preventable deaths (from conditions that should have been preventable).  This is because medical costs are so high that people don’t go to the doctor for things that don’t look, seem, or sound serious at the moment.  Not like other industrialized countries with nationalized health care and people can go to the doctor for things more often without going into bankruptcy (even thought many people who lose everything because of medical dept actually have health insurance).  So while we have better medical treatment it is too costly for people to access it.  Lets call that a null.  So feudal people are still better off.

The working conditions were not great.  At least we have that better.  Well, if you can find a job.  And if it has a good health package.  And if it has high enough wages.  Even all those added together, we actually work more days a year, have less days off.  So we have better tools and equipment and work conditions but we work more and have less time for ourselves.  I might call that a wash too.

I guess the freedom to live our lives the way we want and no one telling us how to live.  Nope. We don’t even have that.  The GOP is trying to turn back the clock on women’s reproductive rights and religious people are trying to tell people who they cannot marry.  Which is a bit a change from the king being able to order certain knights or lords or marry their daughters to other certain knights or lords.  Still, it is one person dictating who can or cannot marry. 

Finally, I’ve found one thing in which we have going better for us than in feudal times.  We live longer.  That’s about it.

An American’s take on Greece, Austerity, and World Economics.

Posted in Economics, Economy, Life, Politics, Uncategorized, Work, Writing with tags , , , , , , , , on June 13, 2012 by urbannight

Austerity measures have slashed services, wages, and jobs. So many people are out of work or making half the income they did before for more work done. They don’t have the money for goods and services so businesses are now unable to pay their taxes.

People are fleeing the cities and returning to the towns and villages they or their parents originally came from. They are seeking out relatives in these small places while they find a new place. They are taking up smaller jobs and spend much of their time tending gardens which is a major reason for this rural exodus.

If you have tiny home with a garden plot you at least can grow your own food. You may also have space for some goats or chickens. This way you can have dairy and protein.

Austerity measures don’t work and made the problem worse. They needed a better solution and it may be too late now for anything to really do any good. Going rural will be a solution to the food problem. But I think countries on an Austerity Plan may end up slipping backwards into a type of third world status.

This kind of fits in with my Tipping Point blog. While it is mainly about ecology and resources, a part of the issue is the basis of the world economy. The economic engine is based on spending which is why businesses and companies have so much political power. And they seem to be the reason that consensus on environmental issues seems to be a total failure.

As long as the economy is based on spending and people have less and less because big business is tying up most of the world’s money, austerity measures will not repair a broken economy but actually make it worse. People are going rural to save money but they will probably keep the smart phones and computers in order to stay connected and try to find ways to do distance work, create work, or simply job hunt.

Lower quality of living and health with high-tech toys. Although, the rural people who have home plots and an animal or two that can produce a renewable food source may end up having a higher quality of live as those in urban settings get worse and worse.

Do Not Call it ‘Cajun’ and the Mayor’s Tax

Posted in Economics, Economy, Food, Life, Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2010 by urbannight

This morning I went to try out Wheatfields.  A new eatery just a block away from home.  ‘New’ meaning it’s been there a year but I refused to eat there.  It used to be a wonderful European pastry shop with some soups and sandwiches.  You really went there for the desserts.  The building was sold and the owners forced them out because they wanted to charge a higher rent on the place.  So they brought in a regional chain.

The service was great.  My server was rather delicious looking himself.  Very pleasant and he went back to the kitchen to get me more seasoning for my soup.  I’ll get to the soup in a moment.

First, I’ll tell you about the half order of hot beef sandwich.  The potatoes were good with no lumps.  Since moving to Nebraska, getting mashed potatoes without lumps is a challenge.  They think that they much leave lumps to prove they used real potatoes.  I’m from Idaho.  Lumpy mashed potatoes is a sign of a lazy cook.  In grade school I could quickly use a hand masher and get smooth potatoes without using butter or a lot of cream.  I used about a table spoon or two of milk depending on the number of potatoes.  That’s it.  So the mash passed my standards.

The gravy was nothing to write home about.  But it was homemade beef gravy.  Not the super dark brown glop you often get on open faced hot beef sandwiches.  On one hand it was my father’s ordinary gravy.  On the other hand it was better than most everywhere else.  And I didn’t even need to add any pepper.

The beef was to die for.  It was an amazing roast that was shredded and put on the sandwich.  No slices folded together.  I thought it odd that it didn’t come with a steak knife.  Until I cut into it with my fork.  No knife needed for this sandwich.

I ordered a half order.  It was huge.  Half of the half order is now in my fridge for tomorrow.

They had two soups for today.  One was Tomato and Cheese.  I don’t like cheese soups in general and don’t like tomatoes.  I tried the other one.  Cajun Shrimp soup.  Let me count the flaws…..

1. The shrimp was salad shrimp.

2. Bland

3. Beyond bland into absolute lack of flavor.

The soup seemed to be a broth with a little bit of onion, some chopped carrots, and some cut tomato.  To this was added rice, salad shrimp, and some tomato paste.  There was supposedly some Cajun seasoning in there as well.  Cajun food is not normally bland.  Even if it isn’t spicy it normally doesn’t have a complete lack of any flavor at all.

I asked for some Cayenne pepper.  They didn’t have any but the kitchen sent me two little tubs of spice.  One had about 1T of cajun seasoning and the other had a chili power that was paprika based with some cayenne and some other chili in it.  I put half the cajun and a bit of the chili in it.  Better.  I then added all the rest of the cayenne and half of the chili.  MUCH better.

Rice, shrimp, and tomato paste does not make a dish Cajun.  Scaring the dish with the bottle of Cajun seasoning does not make is Cajun.  You have to actually USE the Cajun seasoning until it tastes like a Cajun dish before you can use the word Cajun to describe it.

Now you may wonder what a Mayor’s Tax has to do with this food rant.  If you are from anywhere near Omaha, NE you probably know where I’m going.  The new 2.5 % tax that gets added to your restaurant bill AFTER the state taxes.  So you also get taxed on the tax.  Different places have labled it differently on their sale’s slip.  I had to laugh when I saw that Wheatfield’s is labeling it the “Mayor’s Tax”.

People want to recall Mayor Suttle.  I understand the few people who are saying the economic and budgetary situation he inherited was not his fault. They are right.  But the people who want to recall him are not doing so because they think he created the situation.  They want to recall him because of his reaction to the situation.  The city council actually soften his ideas when they passed the budget.  The people of Omaha hated his ideas and plans once he got into office.  As much as people are screaming now, it would have been 2 – 3 times worse if the budget has passed as Mayor Suttle envisioned it rather than the way the council modified it and softened it.

The worse is, of course, the wheel tax.  People who live outside Omaha but work in Omaha now have to pay a wheel tax.  It will be collected via payroll deduction.  The issues is that these people are being taxed who have no way to vote on it.  No representation in Omaha.  There is a very large portion of couples who live outside the city and drive one vehicle to work.  But both will be charged the wheel tax on the one vehicle.  A person who happens to have two jobs in Omaha is going to get charged the wheel tax twice.  Once for each job even thought it is one vehicle.

People who live in Omaha already pay a wheel tax when they register their vehicle,  but only once per vehicle. Our wheel tax is going up as well and for less than the mayor wanted.  The city council lowered that amount as well.

The Mayor is very tax happy.  I understand they needed to raise taxes but he was going way out over the deep end about it.  The fact that Wheatfields now shows a ‘Mayor’s Tax’ on their sales slips seems funny and appropriate.