Sim Taxman (Yeah, Yeah)

I'm doing my taxes now. I'd rather being playing a game or chewing glass, but it's tax season and I'm a responsible citizen so it's time to see what I can do for my country. Monetarily, of course.

I love the term Tax Season. Makes it sound like a game, which it isn't. It really really isn't. It could be I suppose. If having your eyes gouged out while some very large man with the power to completely destroy your life takes every penny out of your wallet can be considered a game. Actually reminds me of a few Ghost Recon levels, now that I think of it. Maybe Tom Clancy works for the IRS.

Note to self: call Starkist.
I don't mind so much the paying of taxes really. I understand the whys and wherefores of supporting a constitutional democracy and that nothing comes for free, blah blah "… Hey man, I went to public school. There's a reason that they teach you how to write checks in the fifth grade: you'll be doing it for the rest of your life.

No it's not the paying of taxes that fills me with rage, it's the math. And the forms. Forms? Come on man, it's the 21st century. You tell me how much I owe you. I'd gladly submit to an audit before filing my taxes just to let somebody else deal with the paperwork. Hell, I"˜d pay extra even.

You hear that Taxman? I'm working in Education and driving a Ferrari! Come make sense of that, bub. And stop for Munchies on the way over. I'm a little peckish.

I suppose I could go to an accountant and have them do the math, but that's still more work than I'm interested in. I'm the kind of person who hates going to the doctor when I'm sick just because it's kind of a pain to have to leave the house. I'd rather suffer for a week than have to put on pants and drive for fifteen minutes.

I think what's getting me down is that I owe money this year. A lot of money. I won't bore you with the details of how this came about, but take my word for it. We're talking more than I've spent on games this year. Yeah. Let that sink in for a minute.

Now I said before that I don't mind so much that I have to pay Uncle Sam for roads and cops and stuff, and I meant it. Roads and cops are good things. So are most of the other services our government provides (which here in Massachusetts is everything short of a bum-wiping). I also understand and appreciate that those services require logistical and administrative support, which also costs money. Believe me, I'm down.

The problem is that when I have to write a check for multiple thousands of dollars, I want the opportunity to be a little hands-on when it's time to spend that dough. Not that I don't trust our honorable congresspeople to spend my money wisely "… Hang on "…

I'm sorry, it really is funny that I just typed that. Hoo hah hee. Okay, hang on. Give me a sec "… Whew. Thanks. Tearing up here, I'm laughing so hard "… Okay, I don't really trust congress to spend wisely, but that's not the point. The point is: I enjoy playing Sim City. Seriously. Give me a few grand to work with and I can build a civilization to withstand the test of time, not to mix ad slogans.

The IRS is online now right? Took "˜em a while, but they're there. You can eFile, check the status of your return, ask questions, surrender to authorities and the whole deal right from home. That takes infrastructure. It's not easy but they did it. Now riddle me this Batman: how hard would it be to take it to the next level? I'm talking interactive resource allocation. Hell it wouldn't even have to be real. Just give me a Java interface where I can literally put my tax dollars to work by building stuff and filling potholes, etc. and I'd be so much mellower about that gaping hole in my checking account. Not ecstatic mind you, but mellow.

Now let's crank it up a notch. Obviously they wouldn't just let us decide how the money gets spent (that would put five hundred, thirty-five of the most "important" people in America out of work), but what's to stop congress from taking "hints" from the game? Hey, spending other people's money is hard work and congresspeople are inherently lazy (why else would they run for office?). It could happen.

So now we've got an online Tax Fund Allocation Game, from which the US Congress is taking ideas on how to spend your money (just "… go with it). Now let's imagine that the IRS keeps score, and that the person with the highest score gets a full refund!

No, I'm not smoking dope. Shut up. I'm trying to sooth my mind here. I owe the IRS thousands of dollars okay?

You know what gets me the most about the whole thing though? I personally know people who make tons more money that I do and who pay less in taxes. WTF is that about? It's like playing with the guy who always ends up with the sniper rifle and the active camo, no matter which map we're playing on. Is it an exploit or a cheat? I don't know, but when there's money involved I'm inclined to call it a cheat.

Anyway. I'm thinking now that since I spend most of my time at home, with my door locked, that I use fewer roads and cops than the average American. Maybe the IRS will consider a Gamer Tax Credit for 2006. Or a hermit exemption. Or some kind of residency exclusion for people who don't actually want to live in the US, but who are too lazy to leave. What's the form for that?

Comments

Okay, okay. If I hadn't already adopted a new sig earlier today, this is what I'd do: I'd peruse Fletcher's latest article, select a sentence at random, and siggify it with no worries whatsoever. It would be guaranteed to be sig-worthy.

Bravo, Fletcher!

And, might I add, your idea for designating federal monies according to an enormous, citizen-driven game of SimCity is intriguing and hilarious, all at the same time. Seriously, you could write a great sf story based upon that idea if you were so inclined.

Speaking of taxes, maybe I should start working on them...

I'd be down for a hermit exemption. Or even a laziness deduction.

In fact, why don't we just make Fletcher head of the IRS. Even if he's smoking dope, such as in this article, he'll still make more sense than the current system.

Taxes... thanks god it's over with! Filed and got a check more than two weeks ago...

This is funny, I had this discussion with a few friends here in tax hell, also known as Québec Canada, a little while ago and we came up with pretty much the same online SimTax solution. Hopefully some day democracy will be more than electing some party every 4 years.

Fun article, and an idea whose time has come. I've often said that I wouldn't mind paying taxes, if they would let me decide how it was spent. I did the math once, and realized that in my lifetime, I've paid the entire annual police, library, and street budget of my town...if you add it all together. And yet, our library is now closed on weekends, the parks are being shut down, the education system is a disaster...and the only escape are gated communities and private schools...which are totally against my hippie sensibilities.

But I've also figured out that I'm much better at doing taxes than most accountants...and thus, I give the IRS as little money as possible now...and instead, make large donations to the charities and projects that I support. (Women's shelters, libraries, etc.) And the best part...the donations are tax deductions. heh. It's totally win/win.

That said...I really have to do the taxes...I've put it off as long as I can...this weekend, I'm sharpening the pencils, locking my office door, putting on the green visor, and finding new and interesting ways to avoid giving money to the federal government. (I never try to wiggle my way out of local taxes...I'm good with those. But the federalis? Farg 'em. I don't like the federal government, I wish the federal government would go away, and I see no reason to fiscally support them any more than I have to.)

Great post. I am waiting to hear back from a local accountant friend where I stand this year, it better be on the right side of the line.

I finallly got around to doing my taxes last weekend. I try to keep our exemptions adjusted so we come pretty close to break even at tax time rather than get a huge refund or have to pay in a bunch more than what they've already taken.

For the first year in like forever, we have to pay in a chunk of taxes with our return, $1300 bucks worth to be exact, over and above the 5 figures+ they've already sucked off the top of our paychecks. We just made too damn much money this year, but damn if I don't feel like we're being robbed. What the hell happened to that big tax cut anyway?!

I hate taxes. I'd be getting full refunds all the time if there was some of Fletcher's hot Sim City interaction involved.

Please pay my salary in a timely manner. That is all.

IRS pwns me!

I'm like 0-7 with them.

The federal stuff is bad enough, but try living where there's a *state* income tax, too (as well as a healthy sales tax). The worst part is, the liberal asshats in Sacremento can't seem to come up with withholding tables that line up with the federal tables. On my first smash and grab run through Turbo Tax, we get $1K back from the feds, but owe the state of CA $500. And it's been weirdly skewed like that ever since I've lived in this socialist state.

My checking account will grow by the joyful sum of $900 in another couple weeks.

And all it took was 10 minutes on the phone with the Telefile system.

I don't mind it so much, but most of us people who are slightly less gainfully employed than most of you never seem to end up owing money.

Viking wrote:

The federal stuff is bad enough, but try living where there's a *state* income tax, too (as well as a healthy sales tax). The worst part is, the liberal asshats in Sacremento can't seem to come up with withholding tables that line up with the federal tables. On my first smash and grab run through Turbo Tax, we get $1K back from the feds, but owe the state of CA $500. And it's been weirdly skewed like that ever since I've lived in this socialist state.

And it's not even *good* socialism. I could probably convince myself to live in a utopian socialist state...were such a thing possible...but not so much the crazy place on the fault line.

Don't get me wrong, I love to visit CA...but gods, I can't imagine living there...the cost of living is beyond ridiculous and a huge amount of the problem is the obscene tax situation. (Well, and the housing bubble...but that's been going on for what, 20 years now?)