dijous, de febrer 10, 2005

Trethi - Taxes - (English)

Three hours have gone by since I began my taxes, my fairly bourgeois taxes at this point. I've come a long way from government cheese and saddling up to the wood stove for warmth in January. Poverty builds character, and I think everyone who knows me would concede that while I may not be the kindest man on earth, I'm a character...

The United Nations gives the United States (strange how language works, since oddly these two names are synonyms...) an HDI (Human Development Index) of 8 in the world, seven whole notches from the top... so much for Dubbyah's shining empire. Oh wait, that was Reagan's shining castle wasn't it? Anyway, whatever the hell it was, the sheen has gotten a little tarnished by all reasonable accounts. Dubbyah's accounts are generally incomprehensible, nevermind reasonable, so I will dispense with him post haste.

That voluptuous number 8 makes me wonder what I'm paying my taxes for. Thankfully I have begun to engage in the outright oppression of the lower classes by investing in a "rental property," and oddly, this asset makes my tax burden fall; this is especially true here in Schenectady where our property taxes are almost four times greater than the per capita GDP of Chad (HDI 167). I remember a conversation last summer with Mary Jones Tai'n Lôn back in Wales (HDI 12). She was vociferously complaining about her Council Tax which has spiralled up to a whopping £240 sterling, around $400, or about 10% what I pay in property taxes to the city and county of Schenectady for a run-of-the-mill two family home with a high-end market value of $125,000. Mary's two-up two-down kitchen off the back semi-detached end row house is priced at £250,000, or about $475,000. Something may be rotten in Denmark, but it's definitely putrified round these parts...

Of course, the HDI is misleading becuase one of its three legs is stuck squarely in the quagmire of per capita GDP. In the US, about 13,000 families are wealthier than the 20 million poorest folks in the realm. Per capita GDP is one of the few rankings in which we come in high up the list, at a dizzying 4 (Ireland, incidentally, is number 3, following Norway and Luxenburg at 2 and 1 respectively). The only problem is that per capita GDP does not indicate the real distribution of wealth in a country. Chad's sad little per capita GDP would make us think that no one had more than about $1,100 dollars to play with a year, and would thus deny the very real existence of Chadian millionaires.

The other thing that keeps our rank higher is our relatively low tax burden, but the key word is relative. Add my Federal, State, Property, Local Sales Tax and all the hidden taxes here and there, and the bill's not so small anymore. Any road, my taxes are done now, and I am awaiting my refund, which will be lovely, since it will a little more money Dubbyah can't use for nefarious tomfoolery.... (to be continued)