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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 8, 2007 12:09 PM. The previous post in this blog was Nice and easy does it. The next post in this blog is The beat goes on. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Blessed curse

Our Oregon income tax "kicker" (refund) check arrived today.

Comments (18)

I was stunned at the size of our kicker check. We'll be retiring some credit card debt. I guess that's a "higher use" than letting the state of oregon spend it on somebody's pet program. I have mixed feelings about the kicker. On one hand, it's unsound fiscal policy for the state to have to send back money that could be put to good use repairing highways, building prisons, improving education, etc. But it sure feels good to get that big fat refund in the mail, particularly when the cost of living seems to be rising a lot faster than my salary.

It would be OK if They would Build Freeways Hire Cops or Something along that line But to give it to Illegals and rename streets Build Streetcars and and Bike paths? Not only NO but Hell NO

Don't you think it would be interesting if the leadership of Oregon actually determined what Oregonians spending priorities might be. Why don't they make a poll where everyone has 20 points to spread around among the various state or local budget items.

If you think that education, public safety, and infrastructure should get the bulk of spending, then allocate your points accordingly.

This way, they might get the message of what people really want their money spent on and maybe people might be more willing to get rid of the kicker. Until then, they can kiss my big fat kicker check.

I'm off to stimulate the local economy.

Well, don't spend all of it then - they'll be getting some of it back in next year's taxes if you itemize.

Our outsized kicker check arrived today as well. I hate the kicker, but there will be some charities that will appreciate it. We plan to donate every penny we received to our favorite charitable funds, starting with the $2000 donation sent today to the Oregon Food Bank. Several other organizations near and dear to our hearts will receive reasonably good sized checks as well. If Oregon insists on continuing this stupid tax policy, then I will simply insist on making sure that those groups who have suffered because of lousy tax policy get back all that I have gained.

we just put ours in savings for .....gasp...next years ever growing property taxes.

Let me be the first to offer a big "Thank You" to fearless, who paid so much in state income tax in 2006 that s/he received a kicker of $2000+. Those of us who do not have that much income are happy to return the refunded overpayment to our household budgets.

Molly: Thanks for your thank you. I'm glad the money is helpful to you. We are fortunate that we don't need this refund and would prefer that the state kept it and used it for some other program, like education or health care. But, they insist on this mindless program of trying to read a crystal ball two years out and, not surprisingly, guessing wrong most of the time. So, we feel it our social obligation to return the money to some groups who need the money worse than we do. If we were selfish, we could have banked the money to cover our ever expanding federal tax bill thanks to the AMT. But thats a different debate for a different day.

mrf

Don't you just love the only state in the union that has to return money from whence it came? I do. Who better to decide the use of my kicker than me. Besides, I also am saving mine to help off set next years inevitable increase in property taxes. Moi, that's the best charity I can think of.

"We are fortunate that we don't need this refund"

How about reducing your PERS payments and giving that back to the state since they know how to spend it better than you do? I mean they got a 20% revenue upside anyways and schools are still crowded, so they could use anything.

Steve:

Funny you should mention my PERS benefits. I just got a notice from PERS that they were reducing my PERS benefits by 5% - a lot more annually than my "kicker". No doubt because they can use the money for better things than I need it for. Unfortunately, I earned my PERS benefits. They were promised me in the form originally given in exchange for a reduced salary during my working life. So, while I may choose to give back my kicker, I'm not about to "choose" to reduce my PERS benefits, even though people like you will cheer to discover that PERS did exactly what you want me to do.

We can argue about PERS benefits and how justified, but yes, they are legally due to you.

However, your assertion that the state should keep the money and spend it on something wisely is flawed thinking. Most of the upside funds (like the 20% extra) are getting chewed up in benefits, so will never end up where you/I think they should (remember the tobacco settlement going for health care? - It is in the general fund now.)

Teddy is working hard on building infrastructure (headcount) just in time for the next recession so we can cut school funding further rather than ever cut employees/benefits like in the treal world.

I wonder how many people have returned theirs to the State? It would be interesting to know how strongly people think the Kicker is wrong.

A real election...

Most of the upside funds (like the 20% extra) are getting chewed up in benefits, so will never end up where you/I think they should

Steve, how can we ever have "good" government if you're advocating cutting the compensation of state workers, including teachers? Yes, the additional money gets chewed up in benefits because state employees know they will never get paid a salary comparable to the private sector, so they fight like hell to keep the benefits.

I just can't figure out why people who claim to want better schools also say we should cut teacher compensation. Those two ideas are contradictory.

"Steve, how can we ever have "good" government if you're advocating cutting the compensation of state workers, including teachers?"

My point is that instead of putting money in schools, Ted will staff up things like economic development instead of schools. In addition, if a 20% upside gets sucked up, dear god, what will happen during normal growth periods? Most people in the state are not seeing a 20% increase in compensation or benefits. I just don't see Teddy pulling in the reins in anticipation of said recession, which scares me.

"Yes, the additional money gets chewed up in benefits because state employees know they will never get paid a salary comparable to the private sector, so they fight like hell to keep the benefits."

Fine, show me someone who left public employment because of better benefits or pay for the same type of work. I understand people leaving because they are frustrated with the job, but I don't think they will find better pay (including benefits) for the same job.

Steve writes:

"Fine, show me someone who left public employment because of better benefits or pay for the same type of work. I understand people leaving because they are frustrated with the job, but I don't think they will find better pay (including benefits) for the same job."

My wife's practice is nearly 1/3 staffed (a 55 person medical group) with former OHSU docs who left for precisely that reason - better salary *and* better benefits. My wife's retirement system make PERS look cheap by comparison and that's why they have no trouble attracting talent from many other groups in town. The salaries are lower, but not significantly, but the benefits more than make up for any loss in salary.

There is but one counterexample to your argument. I could cite you dozen of other examples, admittedly all from the higher ed or K-12 ed sector, of people leaving to go to private institutions because both salary and benefits, including retirement were better.

I was stoked to get our check. I paid bills with it. I don't give money to charity very often, but I give quite a lot of time. Our blues society's sixth annual christmas benefit brought in $1300 for the local library system. Last year, it was $1500 for the local Women's crisis center. My weekends are sucked up playing at benefits.

After seeing a story on channel 8 about tax software, and specifically TurboTax, erroneously donating people's kickers to the State School Fund, I emailed this message to the State Dept. of Revenue:


Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2007 7:07 AM
To: 'questions.dor@state.or.us'
Subject: Kicker erroneously donated by TurboTax

When I did not receive a kicker check in the mail, but instead a letter from the state thanking me for my donation to the State School Fund, I opened up my 2006 return in the TurboTax software, clicked on "State", and then on "view forms". The electronic form within TurboTax does NOT have an X in the box for "donate any kicker". However, I looked at the paper form that I printed and mailed to the state, and it did indeed have an X in that box, as did the PDF file TurboTax generates that I used to print the paper forms. I had not noticed this before I mailed the forms to the state, because I assumed TurboTax filled them in consistent with my answers and I did not review the printed forms in much detail. It is clear in the software, however, that I had specified I did NOT want to donate my kicker. It is clear that this was a problem with the TurboTax software. The kicker calculater shows my wife and I would be receiving $533. What process do I need to go through to claim that amount?


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