22 years: Negotiations and love songs

taxes could have been the death of us

Roger & CarolI highly suspect that we’ve managed to stay married 22 years because of Negotiations and Love Songs. It includes a division of turf.

When we’re on ZOOM at an event, we are generally at separate devices. This is a function of having very different computer habits involving when to mute et al. It is also that we often see couples on the same screen and we sometimes have difficulty hearing one or both of them.

Conversely, when we’re watching our Sunday church service on Facebook Live, we generally sit together. This allows us the opportunity to worship together. Back in the olden days – March 2020 and before – she’d be in the congregation, but I would be in the choir loft.

She has bank accounts, as do I. Then we have joint accounts. I certainly don’t fault couples who operate otherwise, but this works for us. I pay for the mortgage, utilities, Internet. She buys groceries, pays for the vehicle, and makes the church contribution.

Some couples share email, but we never could. I may still have a lot of it to go through, but I’ve read them all. She often has stuff unread; we’re talking four digits.

This brings us to taxes. Before we were married, I usually filed a 1040A or even a 1040-RZ (as in easy). I never itemized my deductions. This was codified by a philosophy of a radical Catholic couple I know. The general theory is that you give not for the deduction but because it’s right. The fact that it was EZ was a bonus.

But my wife, who owned rental property before, and when we were first married, filled out a Schedule C. So she’s always done the long-form taxes.

Last year of the century

I remember quite vividly the spring of 2000 since we had gotten married the year before. Not only we filling out the 1040 form, me for the first time, but we had also received a decennial long-form Census and were completing that as well. I will say that the Census info was extremely accurate.

But doing the taxes was causing us… stress, every year. This was particularly true when we must have done something wrong a couple of times and ended up paying penalty and interest. So we ended up hiring someone.

One time, the accountants ALSO got something wrong, and we had to pay more, but they absorbed the penalty and interest. I figured if they’re professionals and muck it up, how should I know? I know there’s TurboTax and the like, but trust me, this is one of those expenses designed to preserve the union.

This year, she asked me which amount goes on the work form for my Social Security, the amount before or after the Medicate expenditure? I don’t know. This suggests the gross before Medicare comes out. But does the Medicare payment and other medical expenses reach the 7.5% threshold for deductibility? (I fell asleep while typing the previous sentence.)

So, as the Paul Simon compilation title goes, Negotiations and Love Songs. Happy anniversary, dear.

Health reports: how can we keep from singing?

I’m giving a talk about March, Books One, Two, & Three>, graphic novels by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell for the Friends of the Albany Public Library Tuesday at noon.

singingYou may recall that my sister Leslie had a serious bicycle accident back on June 4, 2018. She missed about six months of work recovering and has had a number of medical procedures.

On April 8, 2019, she had a couple more surgeries, around her eye socket and nose. They were done more or less simultaneously, in order to minimize the total time of recovery. She’s doing well.

Meanwhile, I’m recovering from whatever health thing that I had. You know you’re unwell when you have to stop and rest walking DOWN the stairs.

On Sunday past, I barely got out of bed, except to watch two recorded basketball games that had been on the day before. And I couldn’t view anything more than 30 minutes at a time. It was impossible to focus enough to read or write.

Even back at work this week, I felt… loopy. I was still taking meds all week, including one at night that contained codeine. And I couldn’t ride my bicycle for the same reason.

I’m glad my wife finally submitted the paperwork for the taxes to get done. Usually, that process starts in the third week in February, during the school break. But because of our extreme busyness, worse than usual, it didn’t begin until the last week in March.

It’s just as well. Last year we got back around $700 federal; this year we PAID about the same. I was happy that all those early filers girded me for what I thought was a likely outcome.

Even though I’ve not seen five minutes of Game of Thrones – it’s just not my thing – I find myself skimming all episodes, RANKED BY TOMATOMETER; I blame my pharmacist. There are even GoT Oreos.

And speaking of religious behaviors, it’s Holy Week on the Christian calendar. Monday: I get my annual physical. This is a fortuitous occurrence, as it will be the follow-up to the treatment for my illness. I think the yo-yo weather is wreaking havoc with my allergies as well.

Tuesday: My daughter’s heading to Montreal on a ONE-DAY trip, which means getting her to school by 5:30 a.m., and picking her up around 10:30 p.m.

Also, I’m giving a talk about March, Books One, Two, & Three, graphic novels by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell for the Friends of the Albany Public Library.

Wednesday: Get my teeth cleaned.

Thursday: Sing.

Friday: Not sing, but attend service.

Easter Sunday: sing, a LOT, if I still have a voice left.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Who Pays: Analysis of Tax Systems in All 50 States

The vast majority of state tax systems are regressive, meaning lower-income people are taxed at higher rates than top-earning taxpayers.

Who-PaysI’ve been perusing Who Pays: A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States because that’s what I do. It is “the only distributional analysis of tax systems in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. This comprehensive report assesses tax fairness by measuring effective state and local tax rates paid by all income groups.”

If you’re NOT from the United States, you may nevertheless find it interesting. “No two state tax systems are the same; this report provides detailed analyses of the features of every state tax code. It includes state-by-state profiles that provide baseline data to help lawmakers and the public understand how current tax policies affect taxpayers at all income levels.”

The conclusions are not surprising. “THE VAST MAJORITY OF STATE AND LOCAL TAX SYSTEMS ARE INEQUITABLE AND UPSIDE-DOWN, taking a much greater share of income from low- and middle-income families than from wealthy families.”

The “terrible ten” of states with the most regressive tax policies contain some of the states I frankly expected, but it had some revelations. “Washington State is the most regressive, followed by Texas, Florida, South Dakota, Nevada, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Wyoming.”

That said, “Those in the highest-income quintile pay a smaller share of all state and local taxes than their share of all income while the bottom 80 percent pays more.”

In other words: “Forty-five states have regressive tax systems that exacerbate income inequality. When tax systems rely on the lowest-income earners to pay the greatest proportion of their income in state and local taxes, gaps between the most affluent and the rest of us continue to grow.”

The report, the sixth edition, was put out by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. “The report was originally released in 1996 and has since been updated in 2003, 2009, 2013, 2015 and 2018. The 2018 report includes tax changes enacted through September 10, 2018.”

June rambling #2: some more social justice

Leslie’s still in the hospital, getting incrementally better.

You can’t compromise with bs

Is Trumpism becoming a new religion?

When The White House Can’t Be Believed

The 2017 Comprehensive Plan For Reorganizing The Executive Branch is codified in the June 2018 Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century. They’re DOING all of it, or trying to. (HT, Steve Bissette)

Family Separations: Should we be horrified, relieved, or just confused?

This Isn’t the First Time the White House Attempted to Cut the Dept. of Ed.

The corporate tax cut will never trickle down

Space defense will be a major concern for the U.S., but the “Space Force” is not the answer

Browser extension to fix the NYT’s squeamishness about calling him a liar

Reporter is raising her daughter to speak three languages; a stranger demanded she ‘speak English’ to her

Living While Black

More than one percent of Oklahoma’s population is in the slammer

Last Week Tonight with John OliverXi Jinping

We could use some more social justice when it comes to fandom

Father’s Day for children of abusive fathers

“In moral crisis” or “immoral crisis”?

Judge tosses Kansas law that disenfranchised thousands of eligible voters, orders KS Secretary of State Kris Kobach to take remedial law classes

Sales tax: Different items are taxable in different states

You don’t really know who Bernie Sanders was in the 1960s

Anthony Bourdain interviewed on The Daily Show, January 2018

RIP Dan Ingram

A natural gas power plant with no carbon emissions or air pollution

How does Disney World control mosquitoes?

‘I had to guard an empty room’: the rise of the pointless job

The Curious Origins of 16 Common Phrases

Now I Know: The Radio Reporter Who Found a New Voice, Literally and Why Is it Named Idaho? and The Tractors that Turn Farmers into Hackers and the Sound of Sneezes and The Man Who Takes Apostrophes Very Seriously and the National Animal of Scotland

The patron saint of the tacky

The LESLIE Chronicles

This is the picture of my sister’s bicycle after her accident on June 4; you can’t really tell that the handlebars are sheared off.

Leslie’s still in the hospital, getting incrementally better. Great strides in the past week, actually. She’s had a fourth surgery this week, on her palate. She has a coterie of friends tending to her, besides the hospital staff.

Most notably, I was able to talk with her this week! She has these different colored caps that cover the trachea incision that allows her to be audible. She was tired but coherent and rational. THAT is a very good sign.

If she were not wearing a helmet, there almost certainly would have had have been a different outcome. So if you are riding a motorcycle or bicycle or scooter, wear the damn helmet.

MUSIC

We’re Not Gonna Take It – Dee Snider (stripped down version)

77 Cover Songs – “Weird Al” Yankovic

Art of the song parody

Still A Friend Of Mine – MonaLisa Twins

99 Luftballons – Kaleida (Atomic Blonde Soundtrack)

Whitney Avalon sings again!

Anema e core – Pier Angeli

Just A Song Before I Go – Graham Nash (original demo)

John McElrath of the Swingin’ Medallions died at 77

Why Modern Music Is Awful

City of Albany folks: You may be able to prepay 2018 property taxes

In effect, seniors will pay for tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy as automatic spending cuts are triggered because the tax cuts add $1.5 trillion to the national debt.

From the Honorable Darius Shahinfar, City Treasurer:

Given what is happening in Washington with respect to tax reform and the possible elimination or capping of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction, the City of Albany expects to be able to accept payments of 2018 property taxes on December 29, 2017. Albany’s authorization to accept these payments is premised on the expectation that Albany County will provide the City its Tax Warrant on or before December 29.

Please be advised that the authority for the City to collect 2018 property taxes on December 29, 2017 does not address the deductibility of such prepaid taxes for income tax purposes, as that issue is under the purview of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

– Upon advice from the New York Conference of Mayors

Payments can be made at:
Treasurer’s Office
City Hall
24 Eagle Street, Room 109
Albany, New York 12207
NOTICE TO TAXPAYERS
OF THE
CITY OF ALBANY

You may be able to prepay your 2018 property taxes on December 29 at City Hall.

The Treasurer’s office now offers multiple ways for you to obtain property tax bill information.

Save a trip to City Hall, view, print and/or pay my tax bill online at payments.albanyny.gov. Payment may be made directly from a checking account for a $.50 cent fee, or by credit card for a $.25 cent fee plus 1.95% of the total payment.

You can request a change to your billing address by emailing taxbilladdresschange@albanyny.gov.

You can request a copy of your Tax bill and/or receipts for payment by using the following addresses:

Receive an e-mail copy of a 2017 tax bill taxbill@albanyny.gov
Receive a paid receipt by emailing 2017paidtax@albanyny.gov

Or submit your information [on the page] to receive a copy of your 2017 tax bill or receipt within 24 hours.
***
From the LA Times: Now that the tax overhaul has passed, here are five moves to consider before year’s end.

Under current law, employees are allowed to deduct unreimbursed business expenses if they total more than 2% of their adjusted gross income.

They include a home office, depreciation on a personal computer required for the job, dues to professional societies and subscriptions to journals and trade magazines.

All of those deductions would disappear through 2025 under the Republican tax bill, so you probably want to move as many of those expenses as you can to this year, such as by re-upping professional journal subscriptions.
***
From Nation of Change:

[The bill] mandates automatic Medicare cuts of at least $25 billion in 2018 and $400 billion over 10 years. In effect, seniors will pay for tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy as automatic spending cuts are triggered because the tax cuts add $1.5 trillion to the national debt. Automatic cuts altogether will total $136 billion in 2018 and include reductions in agriculture subsidies, student loans, military retirement and more. [Congressional Budget Office (CBO)]
***
This Tax Accountant’s Thoughts on the New Tax Law: This is a draconian tax bill for employees.

It also is insidiously designed to social engineer our society, away from wage earners and the benefits that employers are obligated to provide, to become an increasingly non-union and non-employee based economy of contractors and sub-contractors, with no benefits, sick pay, family leave, unemployment insurance, workers compensation, or vacation pay.

And, of course, no health insurance.

And still, the debt will grow by trillions…