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Monday, April 17, 2006

That ain't hay

Some notes on Tax Day 2006:

1. The mailbox into which I dropped my returns, outside the Post Office branch at NE Eighth & Schuyler, had a yellow sticker on it today. It noted that all mail deposited there before midnight tonight would get an April 17 postmark. That's nice -- saves folks a trip down to the main Post Office tonight if they're playing the 11th-hour game to the hilt. You wonder, though, how many of them will know what it says on the sticker; they'll probably just drive down to the main for the annual festivities.

I remember the year I timed my trip to try to get on the 11:00 news, which is always at the P.O. on Tax Night. They interviewed the person driving the car right in front of me. As Maxwell Smart used to say, "Missed it by that much!"

2. We mailed six envelopes again this year -- federal, state, federal quarterly, state quarterly, Tri-Met and Multnomah County. Plus, we had to add two more for one of our kids, whose little nest egg has reached the point where it generates enough income to require her to file. So that's eight altogether. Oh beautful, for spacious skies...

3. Sen. Ron Wyden's tax plan is all over the news today. It's not really news -- been out for quite a while. I've blogged about it here before. It's a nice Democratic income tax, with a few bones (but very few) thrown to the Republican forces.

As part of that story, they're showing around the tax return form that would prevail under the Wyden plan. Swell, but the Wyden tax return I'd get a kick out of seeing is the one he's filing with his new gajillionaire bride. I wonder if they're filing jointly, or whether they're pulling a Kerry and keeping things separate so we can't see her dough.

4. If you haven't gotten it together yet, you can always get an extension of time to file your own returns. Details are here. You still have to pay what you owe today, however, along with your extension request. Oregon generally accepts a valid federal extension, as does Multnomah County. They all have to be paid what they're owed today, however, or else there are penalties (and interest, of course).

5. Speaking of Multnomah County, this is the last year of the county income tax -- just in time for the election of a commissioner and the county chair. As for the latter, we note here that unemployment benefits are includible in gross income.

6. For inspiration, don't forget the Complete Internal Revenue Code Podcast Project, here.

Comments (12)

Finally threw my hands up last night. The extension is going in the mail tonight along with my best guess scribbled on a check.

I hadn't thought of timing the trip to get on TV. Would Baba-Booey or [rimshot] be a more appropriate shout-out? Perhaps an homage to Snakes On A Plane? Snakes In My 4868.

OK, this isn't exactly tax-related, but you brought it up... If an incumbent loses an election, do they qualify for unemployment?

"do they qualify for unemployment"

wouldn't it be more correct to say, "does she qualify . . ."?

Unfortunately, I was already well aware that unemployment benefits are includible as gross income. Equally unfortunate is that I've never had a nest egg of any kind. Tax season is just another special time for me to daydream about how I will pass on to my child my own class status as though it were fossilized in rock. If she's lucky, that is.

Put my $3 check in the mail to Salem today.

Here's a thought... let's say that if your net refund or amount owed is under $20, we just call it good and forget about it?

I mean, it's a little ridiculous when postage increases your tax bill by 13%, don't you think? ;-)

Ah well... since I'm no longer an Oregon resident, I won't have to CTC again...

since I'm no longer an Oregon resident, I won't have to CTC again...

Unless you work here.

SInce you are a tax professor, what are the odds any kind of tax simplification will ever happen? In our lifetime?

I know some deductions (e.g. home mortgage interest) are locked in, but it would be a lot fairer with a flat tax.

Steve: For some definitions of "fair" and "flat".

Why is Wyden's plan called a flat tax anyway? Is that just marketing to Republicans? It has three tax brackets!

Steve, there was tax simplification in '86, but it was an unusual convergence of forces, including a willingness on all sides to compromise. Those days are long gone. And the reforms didn't last long -- Bush Sr. saw to that.

I'm afraid it will take some sort of major disaster to get serious tax reform passed any time in the near future. Wyden's middle-of-the-road approach is sensible, but that pretty much dooms it.

That's too bad, the more labyrinthine the tax code becomes, the more tax breaks the high income people with good tax accountants/lawyers can take, while the lower income people get stuck in a way.

I think the only big change may be AMT becoming a de facto flat tax by taking away all deductions.


Just wondering: Did you have to pay AMT audit insurance again this year?

Oh yeah. Even more than last year.

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