Monday, August 8, 2011

It's My Fault

The debt crisis and Standard and Poor’s downgrading of the United States’ credit rating is all my fault. Forget blaming anyone else.

And I’ll tell you why: I get back more money in federal tax credits than I pay in federal income taxes. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to give up my addiction to other peoples’ money.

Well, actually, I would. Give it back, or forego the extra bulk in that annual tax refund. But nobody wants to listen to me. Because a little part of me has always been bothered that the incoming is bigger than the outgoing, if you know what I mean. I’m taking candy from a baby. Somebody else’s baby, yes.

But I’d be a fool not to take these credits, right?

Child tax credit, for example. A great deal for anyone who has kids. Sure, kids cost you a lot more in the long run than you might ever get back from this tax credit, but I’m going to take it as long as I’m eligible to do it. Maybe it should cap off after two children – we have three – with that extra money going towards, I don’t know, deficit reduction.

Is there a line item on the tax form that allows us to donate all or a portion of our tax refund strictly to deficit reduction? Probably not. Would I check it? Maybe.

Then there’s that Lifetime Learning credit. I used it for two years as I worked on my masters degree. Michelle is now working on her degree, so we still get the credit. At least this one works in that we get less back on the credit than we pay for tuition. And we’re stimulating the economy! Keeping university professors employed! We are a one-family economic stimulus package!

And I’ll keep taking that credit until we’re not eligible any more, mister.

Where does that put us? The rock and a hard place, as PJ O’Rourke suggests?


Here’s what I’m willing to do:

I don’t want to pay any more in taxes. But I’ll let the federal government keep what money they’re already taking from me. End these tax credits now. But only if you’ll use that money for deficit reduction.

All we’re likely to get, however, is more Trick or Treat.

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