Monday, January 10, 2011

Life Goes On...So Do Taxes

Well, life has to go on, even when really bad things happen.  After a week of crying and being generally unable to eat or sleep, I was thrilled to go back to work this morning to at least be able to focus my mind on something else.  And work is busy, busy, busy, so there is plenty else to focus on.

Back in December I promised to disclose my tax withholdings for 2010, since the constant refrain I hear is that people like me in the top 2% don't pay our "fair share."

So, here it is, directly from my final paycheck of 2010:

Federal Income Tax:  $ 222,142.71
Medicare Tax:           $ 10,065.99
IL State Income Tax: $ 20,286.19
Social Security Tax:   $  6,621.60

Mindboggling, isn't it?  I never dreamed in a million years that I'd get a paystub that looked like this.  Please note that I did not make a million dollars last year, or anywhere close to it.  I'm not a millionaire or a billionaire, I don't drive a Ferrari, nor do I have hidden bank accounts in the Cayman Islands or a closet full of Chanel or a billionaire grandparent.  I'm just a regular person who went to college and grad school and ended up doing pretty well for myself.  I also made sacrifices along the way, in that I focused on my career as opposed to getting married and/or having children.  Nothing comes without a price.  And yet, for some reason, a lot of people seem to think that what I am paying in taxes  isn't enough.  I should pay more.   

Are they serious?  I paid more in taxes than most people make in a year.  Hell, I paid more in taxes than most people make in four years.  Should I simply be grateful that I have done so well for myself and accept that the government considers itself entitled to such a huge amount of my money that I earned?  Am I greedy if I don't want the government to continue to stick its hand in my wallet?  I have to be honest here:  seeing these numbers completely depressed me.  I should have had the opposite reaction, right?  Shouldn't I be thrilled that I've done so well for myself?  Instead, I found myself wondering how much the government is going to take next year, and thinking about the things I could've done with that money.  Somewhere there is a tipping point where the stress of the job + the hours worked is not worth the salary, particularly when such a huge chunk of it is going to someone else, and when a huge percentage of people in this country are paying no taxes at all.  Why in the hell do I have to subsidize so many other people?  Why am I considered the bad guy when I complain about this?  Why am I expected to simply sit back and take it when the very reason I make this much money is because I worked my ass off for it?   

Now, I don't mind paying taxes.  I really don't.  We all have to pay taxes; it is part of life.  Taxes keep our government running, somewhat.  What I do mind is hearing that I am a greedy fat cat who is not paying my "fair share."  How much exactly would be my "fair share"?  I would absolutely love to know the answer to this question.  The national debt is approximately $45,000 per person in this country.  Thus, I am not only paying my share of the national debt, but also paying the share of nearly four other people.  How many people's share of the national debt should I have to take on?  How on earth can this be considered "fair" to anyone?  You'd think some of the people squawking about "fair share" out there might stop and think and thank the people who are paying so much into the government rather than ranting and raving about how "the rich" should pay "more, more, more!"  And I'm the greedy one?           

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