I first published this post in April of 2011. As I'm about to cough over approximately 22% of my 2011 paltry income to the tax man and, in light of the currently political conversation, it seemed a timely post to revisit. Oh, and I may have tweaked it just a bit...
According to that bastion of celebrity gossip, E! News, Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne owe the IRS nearly $2 million in back taxes and the feds have slapped a lien on one of their houses.
Wouldn’t you just love to have that problem? Seriously. Just think about how much money you’d have had to make to owe a tax bill of $2 mil. Damn! And to own multiple houses so the tax man has to decide which one to put a lien on? Why that’s the goddamn American dream.
I don’t begrudge the Osbournes their good fortune. At least they didn’t rob any workers of their retirement funds like a certain CEO did while at Bain Capital, or use phony foreclosure papers to steal people’s homes like the bankers we bailed out. Besides, $2 mil is just the family’s plastic surgery budget. Hell, Sharon can sell off some of her Louboutins to cover that paltry sum.
Back in the days when I was writing for television my income never came near rivaling that of either of these families, but it was nice enough that every year I wrote out a check to the government for several thousand bucks. I grumbled, bitched and groaned about it, but I’d sure as hell like to be writing those checks now.
I’m not one who's all that adverse to paying taxes. I view it a bit of like being a member of an exclusive country club; the type of place that has a waiting list of years to get into, where someone damn near has to die for a spot to open up.
|Riviera Club, Pacific Palisades, California|
A place like that costs big bucks to join, yet members happily dole out hundreds of thousands of dollars for the privilege of carrying its highly-coveted card, a flash of which tells the whole world they’ve made it.
Now imagine the name of the club is America – land of opportunity from sea to shining sea (if you don’t notice all that oil washed up on shore) – a venerable cornucopia of abundance and excess to the rest of the world who waits outside our gates hoping to gain entry, willing to do anything, risk anything for membership in the land of the free.
Except nothing’s free. It costs a bundle to keep our club running. Transportation, infrastructure, water and power, education, wilderness, health care, security – all once the envy of the world – they cost money. Who would fork over thousands of dollars to join a club where there were gofer holes on the golf course, algae in the pool and cracks on the tennis court?
Just like it’s a privilege to belong to an exclusive club, politics aside, it’s a privilege to get to live in this country. Honestly, I feel like I won the damn lotto of life. While there are a lot of wonderful nations on this earth, any number of which I wouldn’t mind living in, I could have also been hatched in a rural village in Pakistan or the deserts of Sudan.
Taking all that into consideration, I don’t mind paying the necessary fees to belong to one of the best country clubs on the globe and keep all it has to offer in tip-top shape. From past experience, I can honestly say I was happiest when I was paying the highest taxes. While I’ll do my best now, without complaint, to scrape together whatever amount I may owe on an income somewhere in the bowels of the tax code, I just want everyone else to pay their fair share, too. I’m looking at you, Mitt and Ann.
This week the President outlined a budget that calls for higher taxes on the people in this country who can most afford it. To those in that tax bracket who may be tempted to whine about that, I say there are much cheaper clubs you can go belong to, but if you want your card stamped at Club America, pay your damn membership fees, consider yourself lucky, and shut the hell up about it.
Last week, Mitt Romney disclosed that he paid only 14% of his income in taxes. At least on the part not hidden away in "foreign investments." I say if you have so much money that you have to hide some of it, it's not going to kill you to fork over a little more to the country where you were lucky enough to be born.