Count on books to reduce your tax bill—March 29, 2013
The countdown has begun. It’s a harrowing time of the year because there are only a few weeks left to satisfy the demands of the IRS. Taxpayers are pulling their hair out as they shriek, “I owe how much!?” They’re haunted by images of a stern man clad in black topped with a tipped fedora whose eerie voice calls out….pay…pay…pay. In his extended arms is a large glass, nearly empty container labeled “Government Piggy Bank”. You realize that your own pockets contain only the meager leftovers of a weekly paycheck. The now louder voice continues….pay…pay…. Thankfully, a bead of sweat startles you to wakefulness.
So why are we expected to participate in this annual fundraising event? As Americans, we are expected to take care of the country, much like a homeowner maintains their property. Taxes are needed for paving streets, providing street lights, paying public servants and supporting schools just to mention a few. The idea started with Abraham Lincoln who introduced a tax of 3% to fund the Civil War in 1861. Congress followed by passing the Revenue Act of 1862. Even then, tension about taxes was common. “The Great Tax Wars: Lincoln to Wilson, the Fierce Battles Over Money That Transformed the Nation” by Steven R. Weisman includes opinions of lawmakers and judges, past and present, about taxation.
A century and a half have passed since that introductory tax. In 2012, the average worker forked over salary equivalent to 107 days to meet the 29.2% “donation” to meet the requirements of Federal, State and Local taxes. There were 174,405,682 returns filed in 2010. The tax liability shown for thousands of those could’ve been reduced considerably by studying the options presented by Holmes Crouch in “Keeping Good Records”. J.K. Lasser’s “Your Income Tax” is a thick volume which explains what income is taxable, what you can do to reduce that final total and how to minimize future tax liability.
Pulitzer and other well-known awards grant the recipient substantial cash payments which are normally taxable income. However, “Lower Taxes In Seven Easy Steps” by Stephen Fishman explains methods to receive the money tax-free as well as lists of potentially tax-free income, possible deductions and numerous methods for tax savings.
Readers of “What The IRS Doesn’t Want You To Know” by Martin Kaplan will exhale an A-HA and enjoy the confidence of having the inside scoop. A couple of the topics addressed in this book include “how to take advantage of glitches in our tax laws” and “eleven rules for winning every April 15”. Kaplan wants us to “keep one step ahead of the IRS –Legally!”
Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1789 that “Nothing is certain but death and taxes”. Being knowledgeable about “the system” may help minimize the financial drain.
Once your deposit to the U.S. Treasury has been sent and you no longer have to agonize over IRS nightmares, stop by Hastings Public Library to check out books and music for enjoyment and relaxation. You’ve earned it!