Friday, August 5, 2011

Tax Free Living

I thought that I shared the same dream with many Americans.  I dreamed of one day having a $1 million annual tax bill.  The theory was that if I owed the Feds $1 million annually in income tax, then my actual take home must be pretty good.  If I had a $1 million tax bill every year, I could be one of the few, the proud, the “job creators”. 
The more I hear my right-leaning friends tell the story, however, this dream of financial success as measured by my net tax burden is misguided.  If I am paying so much in taxes, I am actually poor and need relief.  Conversely, if I pay no Federal income tax, I am actually wealthy at the expense of my fellow citizens and need to be taught a lesson in self-reliance.  Given the choice, I would rather be with the half of the country that didn’t pay federal income tax than with the side that did.  So I have decided to take the expressway to financial success at the expense of the government.  I will reduce my income so I can enjoy the tremendous benefits that accrue to those paying no Federal income tax.

I’ve been busting my hump trying to make a nest egg for myself and my family, and all this time, I did not realize that the threat of $1 million tax bill was a disincentive.  I should have been more focused on the monetary incentive that complete dependency on the Federal government provides.  That’s where the real money is, and according to my conservative friends, there is no other relevant incentive than money and the pursuit of it.  But why limit my dream to the avoidance of Federal income taxes?  What if I could reduce my regular income to a point where positive cash flow from the government kicks in?  The Holy Grail…

First part of my new enlightened strategy – I have to get out of my current job.  The welfare state money won’t start flowing in as long as I have gainful employment.  Qualifying for unemployment can be tricky, though.  I can’t resign or leave my job voluntarily.  I have to force my company to eliminate my job or fire me before they develop strong documentation of gross misconduct on my part.  If I can pull off that Houdini maneuver, I could start collecting my maximum $378 per week benefit (Commonwealth of VA maximum in 2010).  Easy money.  Now you naysayers may do the quick math and recognize that $378 per week equates to only $9.45 per hour, but if I pretend to look for work for up to 99 weeks, I could enjoy my first class ticket on the Dollar Tree Gravy Train.  Besides, $9.45 per hour is just enough incentive to stop me from working a menial service job, as long as I discount any positive feelings of self-worth that may accrue from being productive.  I have to remind myself that I should only have two motivators for my behavior – seek pleasure, avoid pain.  Money is pleasure and work is a pain.  Any other possible motivators in life must be a liberal myth, cooked up in their “universities”.  
The free money from unemployment may sound enticing as an alternative to the grind of gainful employment, but it might not cover all of my expenses, especially since I took the advice of the Far Right about 15 years ago and started a two parent (one man, one woman) family and procreated to the tune of 3 kids who appreciate the finer things, like eating several times each day.  Thankful, I saw a story on Fox News about the nouveau wealthy living the good life off food stamps.  In Virginia, that’s another $128.63 per month (FY 2010) to gorge me, the wife and the kids with all the Ramen noodles we can stomach.  I found from reading a Reagan biography that if we add some of the ketchup to the broth from the little packets we rescued from the Burger King condiments counter, we have met our required vegetable intake on a daily basis, too.  Wellness at a value price!

I can see how comfortable this lifestyle of dependence can become.  Without the burden of doing my fair share to support roads, infrastructure, national defense, clean air and other such boondoggles, I can feel the job creation engine stirring in my soul.  The stirrings could be hunger pangs, but for now, let’s be positive.  Those are job ideas percolating deep inside, and I just might start spitting out gold bars from down there.  The pressure is building…

Apparently, now that I am off the grid, health care in America is free.  I did not know that.  Anyone who shows up at an emergency room is taking care of, eventually, one way or another.  I never much liked going to preventative, well care visits anyway.  I have read that those visits actually reduce overall costs, but that is not my concern right now.  I am driven by the siren song of personal wealth through the reduction of my tax rate to 0.  The kids and I may have to wait until our contagious coughs get really bad before we brave the wait at the local emergency room, but if this is what it takes to stay in the non-tax paying bracket, so be it.  That’s the only incentive I need.

In 15 more years, I can start cashing out my Social Security benefits to the tune of $1,177 per month (average monthly benefit January 2011).  That won’t get me much here in Northern Virginia near my family, but there are some beautiful remote parts of the heartland where $1,177 translates to the biggest studio apartment in town.  Granted, there isn’t much infrastructure in these areas, like paved roads or hospitals, but that just means quiet evenings looking out of the grates onto my front parking space.  Yes, my conservative friends were correct.  Keeping myself in the no Federal income tax paying bracket is a godsend.  And it’s so easy!

Yes sirree, being one of the 50% of Americans that don’t pay Federal income taxes is quite the life.  I am proud to be an American, just like General Electric.  They reportedly didn’t pay any Federal income tax last year either.  I’m in good company.  Of course, GE had paid lobbyists working directly with Congress to design the favorable tax rules, while I had TurboTax helping me sort through my deductions tables.  In terms of scale, it’s pretty much the same thing, right?  We both are just taking full advantage of the tax code as the law allows.  The rule of law triumphs.

Now that I am living the good life of poverty, please send me money.  You can write off the charitable deduction, and start applying yourself towards my tax bracket.

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