Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: Tax returns
The Other Side forums - suitable for mature readers! > The Other Side forums > The Issues Forum
spiffilicious05
The little rules of filing tax returns are stupid. If you donate to a charity and make a six figure income you can get half of what you donated back, if you donate to a charity and make what the IRS apparently considers a negligible income you get squat. (please note these figures aren't absolutely exact but they are close)

So this summer I donated my time, my resources, and more money than I technically had to this charity but as I am of low income I do not receive any money back. This would normally not bug me, granted it has put a lot of financial strain on my shoulders but when I was going over my taxes with the person filing them and found this loop hole I must say I was a bit pissed. I didn't even get a penny. Lame. Very, very lame.

I understand that, perhaps, this method is meant to discourage people from incurring such large amounts of debt (i.e. don't give out money that you don't have). For example, don't take out a cash advance on a credit card if you know it will take you a while to pay back; the government frowns on having this negative sign show up in their calculations. However, this approach to tax refunding I find creates a general sense of falsehood. Individuals receiving high incomes often donate to charities not for the sole purpose of giving to those in need but for the incentive that they will receive money half of their money back all the while earning a gold star next to their name without feeling the financial strain of their gift. Similarly low income families become discouraged and fail to donate to charities as they seem only to be punished for their good deeds. This creates a sense of loathing and malcontent of the lower middle class families of America; it has become apparent to them that the government does not wish to sacrifice its precious money. However, the government is willing to spend billions on a politically incorrect war that infringes upon many of the laws of the Geneva Convention because they believe it is for a greater good. But really its only purpose is to spread the impressive authority and purity (I'm being sarcastic) of the American government; actions similar yet uncouth to those of the Suez Canal Crisis in which the American government 'first' (as noted in my text) exercised power reasoned by an "Because I said so," and "I'm better than you" complex. I realize this rant may appear to have gone a bit off topic but really it comes down to the fact that our government just wants money and power and is not afraid to step on those already suffering to obtain what it desires.


No I'm not crazy, just really frustrated. I know this may have gone into personal concerns but I also see it as a political issue. I know one of the independent candidates running for president was speaking of eliminating all the little taxes, and tax returns. Instead, there would be a 30% government sales tax on everything you buy (already included in the price) plus whatever state taxes are added on. This, according to his theory would reduce the prices of goods and prevent people from having to pay more or get more back at the end of the year. A hypothetically equal approach to taxing -- yet the plan doesn't take into account 'taxation without representation.' I'm not saying that this is a better theory, I'm just offering it as another perspective.

Any thoughts for reforms?


Sorry for the rant. smile.gif
Radaga
I live on a country where 47% of the GPD is generated by taxes.

And direct tax is 30% of salaries, we work 1/4 th of the year to pay taxes.

And have no counterpart in health, security, infrastructure, nothing.

It just feeds the machine. And make some of the "friends of the king" aka the politicians and their protégées richer.

Brazil, paradise to live in, hell to reside in.

Aim to be a local, never a citizen, and it is the best country, otherwise...
spiffilicious05
I know that taxes are "needed" but really I think that they just suck. Then again I think the whole idea of currency and its unequal distribution is silly but given that money and bartering go back to the beginnings of civilization it makes it hard to break away from a discourse of extremes (ie being completely capitalist vs socialist, etc)

anyways I am by no means an expert in politics - but it doesn't take an expert to say that there needs to be changes
Mata
The average person in the UK pays around 20% of their salary directly to the taxman. Whenever we buy anything, that also has 17.5% tax added to it. Essentially we end up giving a third of our income directly to the government. This doesn't include quite substantial portions of our money that are taken when we move house (stamp duty) or the portion of our money and possessions that are taken from our family after we die (inheritance tax).

Tax on alcohol, cigarettes, and fuel is a lot higher than 17.5%, so between one or more of those you've got most of the country paying a substantial extra pack of money out too.

America has notoriously low taxes compared to much of the Western world, although its tax system favours the very rich (as does increasingly the UK's system). If you think you pay a lot of taxes, try living in Europe!

I don't like paying lots of taxes, but I do like knowing that the NHS exists and lots of the other benefits that come with living in a semi-socialist state. You can't have it both ways, and I think I prefer to stick with the UK system in the end.
Radaga
Tax over basic food here, is 45% (sugar, beans, rice, etc), and Brail is top producer of soy in the world. Go figure.

Cigarrets, Alchool, Electronics?

115% , 86% and 75%

Feel glad to live in UK, or to live pretty much anywhere but brazil
Roadkillgerbil
QUOTE (Mata @ Apr 15 2008, 01:17 PM) *
America has notoriously low taxes compared to much of the Western world, although its tax system favours the very rich (as does increasingly the UK's system). If you think you pay a lot of taxes, try living in Europe!

I don't like paying lots of taxes, but I do like knowing that the NHS exists and lots of the other benefits that come with living in a semi-socialist state. You can't have it both ways, and I think I prefer to stick with the UK system in the end.


I remember the shock when I got my first 'real' payslip and realised how much the government was going to take away from me. That said, I've spent a lot of my life running in and out of Denmark (not literally). Their tax levels are even higher than ours, but you can really see what they get for it.

I think that's what I mind most. It's not paying the money. I realise that I get lots of things 'for free', such as healthcare and roads and so on. I do mind it not being used well.

Danish roads are amazing (at least, they were before they discovered roundabouts. Things may be chainging.). When someone has to dig up the road, they have to repair it properly. Not just shove another load of tarmac on top, make a smooth round on top and then go home for a cup of tea. As a biker, I really appreciate things like that. The cycle paths are also awesome. They're apart from the traffic, have enough space and are well maintained. Danish schools rock (I went to one for a while). They often have dentists based in the school itself. The buildings and facilities are much better than I've found over here. Students get properly funded (though there are lots of issues regarding student housing) and going to university doesn't have to get you in debt. What I've seen of their healthcare system is fantastic and their public transport system is actually logical.

Those things cost money. I understand that. I'm just not sure how we pay nearly as much and get nothing like the rewards. Is it because we simply don't expect things to work so there's no impetus for politicians to make it work? Does the small difference in money make that much of a difference in results? Could it be due to the differences in population size?
Phyllis
Holy monkeys, Radaga. That's a lot of tax. ohmy.gif Do you know if it's similar in other areas of South America, or is Brazil just lucky that way?

When comparing the income taxes in the UK and the US, I think it's kind of important to consider what the people in each country get for their tax money. Living here I never have to be afraid that I'll end up with a huge hospital bill if I'm deathly ill, so that's a definite bonus. And, well, regardless of what percentage is taken out of the average US worker's paycheck, the government's treatment of its poorer citizens still pretty much sucks.
Radaga
Brazil is the second greatest country, considering work hours to pay tax (736)

Worst is Belarus (960)

third worst, Cameron, 500

Overal, brazil, according to the world bank, is ranked 137 in 167 countries.
patback87
Yea I always thought I lived in the most taxed city, but now I see there is a worse place Brazil. Our sales tax is going to be the most in the nation come November when we will be paying 10.25% plus our 10 cent tax on bottled water and every other tax the stick us with. So the County Board presidents cousin who isn't even quailifed for her job can make 6 figures get bonus and a double digit raise in a year when they are raising our sales tax a percent. Sorry it's just really sad when there are only a few things that make Chicago cheaper than NYC.
Daria
I have nothing special to add to this thread, other than: The last shard of my childhood goes this year, with the tax forms I have to fill out and send back.
Also, I'm being fined £100 for not telling the National Insurance people that I was self employed within three months. This is after I paid them the £52 I owed them.

They should teach you this stuff in schools.
spiffilicious05
QUOTE (Mata @ Apr 15 2008, 08:17 AM) *
America has notoriously low taxes compared to much of the Western world, although its tax system favours the very rich (as does increasingly the UK's system). If you think you pay a lot of taxes, try living in Europe!

I don't like paying lots of taxes, but I do like knowing that the NHS exists and lots of the other benefits that come with living in a semi-socialist state. You can't have it both ways, and I think I prefer to stick with the UK system in the end.



That was really meant to be my main complaint, even if I worded it poorly. I'm just irritated with how the system does favor the rich and basically screws the lower middle class and the poor. It's basically as if the entire middle class is being eradicated as it's becoming more and more expensive to be poor. (If you read the book Nickled and Dimed you'll see what I mean)

I'm also alright with paying taxes if I know that they are benefiting the nation as a whole (i.e. socialized Medicare, and other important services). For example - I was in dire need of adequate dental insurance for about the past 10 years of my life as the insurance provided by my mother's employer was not the best and therefore unaccepted by most dentists. Thus, I have been living with impacted wisdom teeth that have been hurting for years now because we can't afford to pay out of pocket (even with the insurance the copay is about 1k). I'm all for paying taxes if it means that my future children won't have to deal with the same thing.

On a side note I've been taking a lot of international relation courses dealing with ethics on the provision of medicine, education, etc around the world. While I realize that my views may be slightly jaded as my travel to other nations has been short I do appreciate the systems (or what I saw of them) of slightly socialized nations. I think the key thing for America is we have a very black and white view - like you can be capitalist or communist, but not have elements of both.

I know my taxes are lower compared to most of the western world but I still don't agree with the system.
Mata
QUOTE (Daria @ Apr 17 2008, 10:08 AM) *
Also, I'm being fined £100 for not telling the National Insurance people that I was self employed within three months.

You have to tell the NI people? Hmm... I've been paying extra for being self-employed, but I organised that through the tax office.

Don't forget to tell the tax office too within six months or you'll have another fine from them!

I thought that these were pretty harsh: it got to the end of the year and I'd moved to being self-employed, I'd not been claiming benefits (why would I? I was working), and I'd kept all of my receipts so I coudl pay my taxes. I was happy to pay what I owed, but getting fined for going into the office and trying to give them money after an arbitrary date? Screw that. I think I'm registered as having started being self-employed about a month after I really was. I've paid all my taxes, so I don't see what the problem was supposed to be.

Regarding taxes going to social welfare things: yep, it's great, I just wish I hadn't temped for the NHS (National Health Service, the British mostly-free medical care system). When I was there I saw extraordinarily large wastes of money nearly every day. They're flushing away money on completely needless admin.

There was one lady I worked with whose entire job for the last 30 years had been to transfer information from one file type to another. In the meantime, computers had come along, making the task a lot easier, BUT she hadn't learnt how to copy and paste. She was manually copying the information onto a pad then typing it in again elsewhere. When I was temping with her, on my first day I got through her entire week's work before lunchtime. Guess what? She was angry. She didn't want to know how I'd done it, so sent me to do some filing in another office so she could get back to her system. She was retiring six months later, and she was going to get a very decent pension for wasting NHS money for the previous ten years or-so.

That's the kind of thing that annoys me about our system: it's not that we pay for free care for those who need it, it's the enormous wastage that seems to be present throughout the organisations.
spiffilicious05
People have a tendency to waste lots of money on silly things. -- this is a bit off topic but may I ask what your job entailed? I was looking for an internship this summer at some sort of medical institution in London (nothing specific) but it changes my visa if I earn money....so I opted not to. Which is a shame because I really wanted to learn more about the system first hand.
Phyllis
QUOTE (spiffilicious05 @ Apr 29 2008, 02:17 AM) *
but it changes my visa if I earn money....so I opted not to.

Also off-topic, but what kind of visa will you have? I'm certainly not an expert, but I can't think of any that change if you earn money. I can think of a couple where you're not allowed to do any work (even volunteering), though. If you're coming over as a student, last I heard you were allowed to work part-time as long as you don't work more than 20 hours per week. If that's the case you could possibly find a part-time internship.
Pikasyuu
Yeah, our taxes aren't that bad. I've been doing mine for an entire two years and have yet to be truly annoyed by them - I haven't moved house, I don't (didn't) make enough money to pay a lot, et cetera.

What do any other Americans think about the economic surpluss checks we're getting? Because we're in a recession (or what Bush is calling a 'slowdown, NOT a recession' - if it quacks like a duck and looks like a duck..) the government has decided to start handing out random money that they're hoping we'll pour into the economy rather than use on bills or savings. I personally will have no problem shoving that into the economy, but some 51% are using it on bills, 31% are saving it, and only 18% are actually going to spend it. Because I'm listed as an independent with an extremely low income, I should be getting around $600. Claimed children with jobs I believe get $300, and married couples get $1,200. The wait is pretty bad though. Instead of getting this with our actual tax returns, we wait depending on the last two digits of our social. Mine are pretty high, (65), so I'll be seeing mine around June 27th. Just in time to miss my 21st birthday, darn! That could have been birthday tattoo money..
gothictheysay
does claimed children with jobs mean someone who is listed as a dependent under their parent but has their own job? I hope so. Someone send 300 bucks my way, please.

My federal tax rebate was about $114. It'll be ages before my state one comes back. (My daddy's accountant filed early for us. biggrin.gif)
Pikasyuu
Yes, I -think- you'll get that 300. As long as you make over 5k a year and needed to file, you'll probably receive it. Sadly, it also depends on what you make. I'm not sure about why/the math, but my parents say that neither of them are receiving a check because they make too much, or something to that degree.

We don't have state tax. In fact, I don't even know what state tax is, but I only got $279 back because I had to pay them..something. Being in debt + unemployed made short work of it, but $600 meant to be spent irresponsibly..that gets my irresponsible side really excited. 8D
spiffilicious05
QUOTE (candice @ Apr 29 2008, 03:09 PM) *
QUOTE (spiffilicious05 @ Apr 29 2008, 02:17 AM) *

but it changes my visa if I earn money....so I opted not to.

Also off-topic, but what kind of visa will you have? I'm certainly not an expert, but I can't think of any that change if you earn money. I can think of a couple where you're not allowed to do any work (even volunteering), though. If you're coming over as a student, last I heard you were allowed to work part-time as long as you don't work more than 20 hours per week. If that's the case you could possibly find a part-time internship.



I'm pretty sure its a student visa -- my coach has been setting everything up for us to go compete in the Henley this summer and should be sending us a visa app soon. The only thing is, she insists that we need it but if I'm only competing and not actually studying I'm not sure that I do. I'm horrible with these things though.
Phyllis
If you're only competing, then no, you shouldn't need a student visa. But you also won't be able to work at all.

How long will you be staying? If it's less than 6 months and you won't be enrolled in any sort of academic program, then I'm pretty sure you can just enter on the visa waiver program. I could be wrong, though -- I didn't exactly look into competing in anything when I was doing my research prior to moving here. If your coach has done this with teams in the past, then it's probably best to take his/her advice. You can check out the different visa types here.

The visa applications are fun. They ask you if you're a terrorist or have ever committed genocide! I really do wonder if anyone ever checks "yes."

Uh, <insert relevant comment about tax returns here.> biggrin.gif Sorry everyone who isn't Spiffy.
spiffilicious05
lol thanks -- and it still deals with taxes...sort of...as I want to be making money.

We're going as a student organization to compete but I'm staying for another month or so after that (about 2 months total). I was originally going to sign up for summer calculus or something (there is a BU student campus in London) but after this year my head needs some serious vegetation time but I would still love to even shadow a doctor for a week or so...

Random thought - if you've moved to the UK what happens to your social security? If you come back to the states would you still receive it once you retire?
Phyllis
You should look into BUNAC, Spiffy. I'm pretty sure you can do it while you're still in uni, and it'd allow you to work for up to 6 months. I know you can do it when you're a recent graduate. Aside from that and enrolling in a full-time academic program I'm afraid there's really no other way for you to work over here. I can't imagine that you'd qualify for the highly skilled migrant program -- especially since they're going to introduce a points-based system. It's a lot more difficult to get a visa to work in the UK than they make it seem in the movies.

Social security payments for expats depend on a few factors. If they make more than $80,000 in any one year, then they have to pay US taxes as well as the taxes in the country where they live. I think (though I'm not certain) that you have to have been paying into the social security system for at least 10 years to receive social security payments upon retiring in the US. So whether or not someone would be eligible to receive social security if they move back to the US when they retire really depends on how old the person was when they moved abroad, how long they've been working, and whether they make enough to be taxed by the US while living in a foreign country. I think. US taxes get a lot more confusing when you live abroad.
ewomack
Taxes don't suck in and of themselves, unfair taxes suck. The government may "take" our money but we're supposed to get far more back in return (infrastructure, security, etc.). When we pay taxes and we get nothing in return, then they become pointless for the average citizen.

The US used to be more of a mixed capitalism, but that system has been getting dismantled little by little over the past 50 years by politicians on all sides of the fence. Previous generations could get by on 1 income. And that included children, house, car, vacation. Now families have trouble getting by on two full time incomes. US living standards have simply declined, but people have tried to maintain or extend them with debt or credit. And now we find ourselves in a financial crisis completely of our own making. And what will the "stimulus" checks do? Great, so I get $1000 or so. Then I spend it. If everyone does this the economy blips for maybe a month. But then where does the next $1000 come from? How does the momentum get maintained? Once the checks get spent or saved, then we're right back where we were. That doesn't seem like a good long term solution for individuals. Of course businesses will also get breaks, so things sort of depend on where that lands.

Things don't look good for the US without some new ideas, new leadership, and new attitudes. We have a lot of whiners here. If things don't shape up we'll have a lot more to whine about soon.
Sir Psycho Sexy
Well I just got a nice letter from the tax people with a cheque for a touch over £900 thankyouverymuch!
spiffilicious05
QUOTE (ewomack @ May 2 2008, 02:08 PM) *
Taxes don't suck in and of themselves, unfair taxes suck. The government may "take" our money but we're supposed to get far more back in return (infrastructure, security, etc.). When we pay taxes and we get nothing in return, then they become pointless for the average citizen.
.......

Things don't look good for the US without some new ideas, new leadership, and new attitudes. We have a lot of whiners here. If things don't shape up we'll have a lot more to whine about soon.


I said the way our system is set up is what stinks -- like I already said, when taxes go to things like medicare and dental care I definitely believe that it's worth it. Take for example Obamma's idea to place a tax on gas to encourage people to use public transportation -- I think that's a great idea. Coming from a family with a low income, and a suburban area where our public transport system is poorly constructed, I feel that this could benefit the cities - if they're all aboard. If a city just takes the tax increase without increasing the availability of public transportation then it would definitely hurt lower class suburban families.

I agree though with your notion for new ideas, leadership, and attitude - that's why I started this topic. I wanted to learn more about the subject and hopefully figure out how to help make changes - other than voting for the right political leaders at this point I can't see how I can help immediately.
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.