Monday, February 16, 2015

The Functions of Governments

Happy President’s Day, everybody. It’s tax time again, the perfect time to think about the functions that governments perform.

There are many functions, of course, but one of the major functions of a government is to oppress people and keep them in a subservient position; to demean them and make them feel inferior. This is never more apparent than at tax time.

Taxes are necessary. We all know this. And I am not going to speculate about whether taxes are too high (or low) or comment on how the federal government or state governments use tax revenues. But it is the process of taxation that seems designed to frustrate and demean citizens. The federal government, and at least the state government of Oklahoma where I live, have several ways of frustrating and demeaning taxpayers that appear to be new this year and are unlikely to be the result of mere errors.

Two examples come from the IRS.

  • The PDF of the 1040 form indicates that, quote, “You can save data typed into this form.” But this appears to be impossible. When I try to save the form, only the blank form is stored on my computer. If I have to make any changes in the form, I have to completely start over.
  • Form 1040 indicates, on line 45, that we are required to submit Form 6251 (Alternative Minimum Tax). But no such form exists on the IRS website, whether you use the search box or scroll through the hundreds of forms, and whether you search for the name or the form number.

In previous years, I never encountered these problems. I always found, filled out, and submitted Form 6251, and I always saved my filled-in tax forms. These are new problems the IRS has created for this year. They have succeeded in making me hate them.

The Oklahoma Tax Commission also has PDF forms for the taxpayer to fill out online. The instructions indicate that, for married couples filing jointly, both the taxpayer and spouse receive one exemption. But the online form will not allow the spouse exemption to be entered. Try clicking on the box, or filling in the number, and nothing happens. By law, my wife and I constitute two exemptions; but the tax form only allows one, unless you fill it in by hand. The entire form is “automatic” which means that this glitch cannot be overridden. Again, this feature worked fine in previous years. The OTC has also succeeded in what appears to be their attempt to make me hate them.

Every year I find taxes frustrating, but I thought that at last I had worked out the system so that filing would be easy. This is impossible, however, since each year federal and state governments ruin something that used to work.

These new processes seem to have no function except to make people like me, who are willing to pay taxes, grovel in the dust and feel like criminals. I feel like I am breaking the law by disobeying the requirement to submit the federal form 6251. Rather than making us feel like fellow citizens who are contributing to the common good, the IRS and state tax commissions want to show us that they are the alpha gorillas and put us, psychologically, in our places. The federal government is not of, by, or for the people. If it were, I would be glad to pay my taxes.

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