This is the dreaded week when individual federal income taxes are due. If you haven't filed by now, you're probably either a procrastinator or somehow flying under the IRS radar.
Last year, I was self-employed for a few months as a computer contractor in another state. I was also a part-time employee for Ozarka College for one semester. Income from my novels and newspaper columns, as meager as it is, puts me in another category. Basically, the numbers are small but reporting them is exhaustive.
Self-employed people are required to fill out a Schedule C (Profit or Loss From Business) form, detailing the income and expenses from self-employed sources only. If you had an office in your home and do a significant percentage of your work there, which I do, you also need to file Form 8829 whereby you must figure the percentage of your home used as the office and apply it to all indirect home expenses. Since I started in January of last year, I can apply a 2.461 percentage of depreciation against the market value of my house less the value of the land. The results from Form 8829 are subtracted from the tentative profit line on the Schedule C.
You must also fill out a Schedule SE to ascertain the self-employment tax whereby you compute 92.35 percent of your net earnings from self-employment as reported on the Schedule C. Next you compute 15.3 percent of that figure to get your self-employment tax. Then you take half of that amount and subtract it from your total income from all sources on Form 1040 when computing your adjusted gross income. Plus the full amount of the self-employment tax is also added to the overall tax liability on Form 1040.
No sane human being could come up with such balderdash. That's why we have Congress.
It took the substantial efforts of federal lawyers and accountants to create such a mess. Not too surprisingly, interpreting the mess also provides these same clowns with a livelihood after government service.
On the other hand, it's always comforting to know that our taxes are being spent wisely. Below is a partial list of spending items contained in the 1,072 pages of the 2003 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, considered the "porkiest" in history according to an independent organization called Citizens Against Government Waste.
* $50,000,000 to establish the United States Travel and Tourism Promotion Advisory Board
* $35,000,000 to assist the shrimp industry on the Gulf of Mexico
* $6,200,000 for wood utilization research
* $5,000,000 for blue crab fisheries affected by low harvests
* $1,000,000 to the Iowa Historical Society for food exhibits
* $1,000,000 for a bear DNA sampling study in Montana
* $1,000,000 to analyze traffic problems in Fargo, North Dakota
* $900,000 for renovation of the El Paso Plaza Theater
* $750,000 for the Baseball Hall of Fame
* $750,000 for sea otter research
* $725,000 for the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia
* $500,000 to continue hybrid poplar research in Wisconsin
* $450,000 for the National Soccer Program Development Initiative
* $405,000 for the Staten Island Soccer League
* $350,000 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
* $90,000 for the Cowgirl Hall of Fame
* $50,000 to study shiitake mushrooms in Booneville, Ark.