Load of Belshe: Taxes, the IRS and me

By Tim Belse
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 15, 2004

Happy tax day, everyone! That's right, today is the last day to send in your federal income tax return without the Internal Revenue Service getting all pissy and charging you a bunch of late fees. Here's a fun little experiment for you. If you're in the Student Union Memorial Center, or any place on campus where people congregate, watch the door for someone to come in holding a newspaper. Then watch as they start to read it. I'm sure there's someone out there who's reading this line right now with a look of horror on his face and the phrase "Oh shit!" running through his mind.

I wasn't quite so remiss as that poor fool. I took care of my tax returns while I was home for Easter last weekend. Now, without divulging too much personal information, let me give you some idea of my financial situation. I'm a student employee for the university outside of my job as a columnist at the Wildcat, so obviously, I'm not making six figures a year.

As you can imagine, my annual income is relatively low. Therefore, you'd think I wouldn't have to pay much in income taxes. Yet somehow, the numbers came out so that I owe the IRS several hundred dollars. I'm not an accountant, so I don't entirely understand how this whole thing works, but I'm still pretty pissed just on principle.

It's not that I mind paying taxes. It's something of a civic duty to contribute to the operation of society. Every now and then you run into some fool who's managed to convince himself that income taxes are unconstitutional. I've never understood how something can be unconstitutional when there's an amendment specifically making it constitutional.

Plus, when compared to the rest of the developed world, our taxes in the United States are pretty reasonable.

I can even live with the fact that a lot of the money taken from me is going to a fund I'll probably never get to use: Social Security. I have no doubt whatsoever that by the time I retire, my parents' generation will have completely drained Social Security and the program will be nixed. For years I've watched my money be taken away from me, knowing there will be no sweet reunion somewhere down the line.

All these things I can deal with. I really don't mind chipping in my fair share each week when I get my paycheck. What really pisses me off is when the IRS comes back at the end of the year and basically says that I need to give it more money for something I'm never going to be able to use.

I really shouldn't be complaining; this is the first time in more than five years of paying taxes that I've come up short at the end of the year. I looked over the numbers on the forms, and while I don't know exactly why any of them are used, I know the math all works out. So it's reasonable to assume there hasn't been a mistake, and somehow I really do owe the IRS money. I'm just pissed because I feel like I'm getting the short end of the stick on this one. And I figure there have got to be others out there who are frustrated about the same thing. This column is about creating a feeling of solidarity for all of us out there being screwed this year. So to everyone else out there getting shafted this April 15, you're not alone.

Tim Belshe is a systems engineering junior. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.