In just a few short hours, many of us will breathe a bit of relief once we complete our yearly obligation. For many individuals, the yearly income tax deadline causes enough turmoil that it convinces them to wait until the last minute before they choose to file their state and federal returns.
For others out there, tax time allows them to reap the rewards of balancing their finances so they either break even or come away with a few dollars in their pockets.
I wasn't one of them. For the third straight year, I've ended up shelling out more in taxes than I did while I was still on active duty. However, I can only blame myself for not taking time to realize just how much my yearly "obligation" would increase once my children no longer qualified for the tax credits that I suppose served as a bit of a "crutch" until they were taken away from me one at a time.
It's going to take a while for my wife and I to make the necessary payments to appease the state tax commission as well as the Internal Revenue Service. Actually, make that a long while since we were seriously hoping to break even this year after changing our tax withholdings after the last tax season.
I seriously doubt we'll make that mistake ever again.
For those out there that have yet to file their returns, it's not too late. The Mountain Home Post Office will continue to accept returns until 5:15 p.m. today, April 15, for both state and federal returns. This ensures that the last-minute procrastinators will have the needed April 15 postmark on their envelopes to prove they met the deadline.
For the really late tax filers (which I hope are few to none), the only option after that is to head to the Boise Post Office Plant on South Cole Road by midnight this evening.
Okay, I have to admit that the "bill" I still owe the state and federal government had me fuming at first. Having watched countless of "political playhouse theater" air on the evening news, I had to wonder if the money I pay each year in taxes was actually worth it.
I take offense each time I see our Congressmen and the president take off in military aircraft to go off on taxpayer funded vacations and junkets across the United States and around the world. For me, just the idea of being able to take a vacation to a tropical destination is a far-fledged fantasy.
When Congress is in session, I get tired of seeing legislation that should pass on its own merit suddenly get filled with various "pork" that has nothing to do with the bill being considered. One that really sticks in my mind was a provision a few years back to provide tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars to support cowboy poets (apparently, they desperately needed my money to stay in business).
But then I had to stop and consider just how important our tax dollars are on a broader scale.
I enjoy the idea that I can sleep at night knowing that our nation's military is standing guard to protect all of us from the countless threats out there. I appreciate the fact that I can bite into a hamburger knowing there are safeguards out there that ensure the beef I eat isn't contaminated with bacteria. I take comfort that the air I breathe isn't hazardous to my health.
On a local level, I like knowing that if there's an emergency at my house, a police officer or firefighter will show up at my front door ready to render the help I need. When my children were in school, I knew they were in a safe environment being taught by individuals that were not only qualified to teach the subject but had to pass stringent standards before they were allowed to lead a class.
While I don't always like paying my taxes each year, I know there are many more out there that took an even bigger hit than I took. To a point, I take comfort that the money I'll end up pay the state and federal government will help pay for programs that will keep things running smoothly for another year.
While I'll still complain about it for a while, eventually I'll calm down and remain content paying my fair share of the "taxpayer pie." I just wish the government didn't need to take such a big slice.
-- Brian S. Orban