Thursday, August 14, 2008

Paying Taxes in New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
April Fool
Death And Taxes
Well yes, death and taxes are reliable constants in our lives, despite several treatises, on both subjects, to the contrary. AND, as you know, coming up April fifteenth, the subject of the thirteenth amendment (income tax) will be once again at your throat and pocketbooks like a frothing, filthy rabid cur. Whether you like it…….or not.
Starting in January with our I9s and W2s, the evidences of taxes that were taken out and statements of the money that we earned for the previous year will rear it’s ugly head, for a reckoning, not to be assuaged until your Uncle is paid his pound of flesh. It doesn’t matter that your bills (another of the constants in our lives) have eaten away every penny that you’ve made, like a school of piranhas.
When it comes to money, my motto is “If you’ve got it…SPEND IT!!!” That’s it, pass it around, tip huge, pick up the tab, spring for it, buy it now. Take life in big bites. You know why? Because Trouble, with a capital T, is right behind that tree, and one aspect of Trouble is that whatever form it takes is gonna cost you! Chalk that up as another constant: Trouble.
An additional constant in life is work (a four-letter word, of course). Why do we work, you may or may not have asked yourself? Of course, to pay for other constants in our lives, namely: food, clothing, shelter and…Trouble, and they all come in many forms and all cost money.
Food, as you know, comes in many forms; from that coffee and croissant in the morning to Cote du Rhone and raclette in the evenings. Coke and popcorn, spaghetti and meatballs, tofu and brown rice, and filet of reindeer with duck liver foie gras and a red wine chocolate sauce; all feeding the hunger of our souls and bodies. Garlic.
Clothing? Well; aside from our ever-changing sizes from all that eating, clothing is the ‘front’ that we exhibit, to the world, spotlighting our image of ourselves. Clothing is our costumes, our disguises, our identities, our statements about who we are. Those simple black dresses, wife beaters, overalls, cowboy boots, Guayabanas, Hawaiian print shirts, tight ass jeans, straw hats and ‘catch me- fuck me’ pumps. Clothing says “see who I am” or in some cases “see who I’m not”.
Shelter is another story. Shelter basically is what we can afford, as close to being comfortable with the person that we would like to be, that meets the our individual needs of light, resting space and toilet facilities. If we are higher on the shelter chain we’re likely to add ambiance, cooking and dining spaces, closets for all that clothing and perhaps a home entertainment section complete with digital clock radio. It goes without saying that a lock on the door is always a good idea. Fresh towels and clean bedding bridge the clothing/shelter criteria gap.
Here’s a disclaimer: none of the above have any relevance if you throw family members into the mix. When you are part of a family; Papa, Mama or Baby bear, you have absolutely no individual rights. Why do you think kids want to run away from home? Why do you think people have affairs? Why do you think we are glued to the television watching programs where every character has individual rights?
If a person on a television show has a relationship and doesn’t have a break-up impending…that show is on the ropes. Many shows have multiple individuals in the throes of beginning, ending or ‘happy ever after’ affairs. They don’t count.
The other reason for working; and believe me there’s no future in work, is to support and pay for our passions, obsessions, luxuries, compulsions, and the other things we need in order to spoil ourselves.
From that weekend getaway to the South of France to buy art, to trips to the groomer for Rover, books that we’ll never read, fine beverages and smart cocktails and all the sex, drugs and Rock and Roll between; we pay to please ourselves.
Compound that with the twelve major insurance policies that we need, credit card fees, fines, utilities, tune ups for the evacuation vehicle, student loans and that penalty for early withdrawal (you know who you are). It’s a wonder that we can sleep at night. Internet and cell phones? Co-payments and deductibles? We must be nuts!
And then, your income tax, Social Security, sales tax, unemployment deductions, 401K, IRA, CDs, money for stamps and that special cat food because the vet told you Fluffy’s got kidney disease. Your toilet paper is taxed, how wrong is that? You get taxed to wipe your…never mind.
Steve Martin once gave a short sermon entitled “How to be a millionaire and NEVER pay taxes” He said it was simple: first you get a million dollars, and then, don’t pay taxes. Simple. Oh, then he added that if the government asked you why you didn’t pay taxes, just say “I forgot!” that’s right, he explained, just say “I forgot!” Yeah, try it.
There are two ways around taxes 1. Claim that you are a writer, critic, consultant or tutor. Then get a good tax person. Part of your rent, utilities and office supplies will be written off. Trips that you take, books that you buy and the cost of cleaning your clothes are all tax deductible down to the laundering of your socks. Also what you pay the tax person is, itself, tax deductible. I knew a woman once that went to Italy for five months, came back, wrote an article about it (never published) and took the whole trip off her income tax. Moral: spend it and then write it off. And if you have a business…don’t make money that you can’t write off. I heard about a man in a mansion with a half a mil a year trust fund, always spent it all and never had to pay a dime in taxes. If I had room, I’d tell you how.
The second way to avoid taxes is simpler, but more extreme. Die.

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