Letter Re: Taking My Taxes Personally

James Wesley,
My wife needed a new car (SUV to be exact), and that got me looking into the fiscal situation in detail to come up with a price range. I first detailed the expense side of the balance sheet down to monthly average activities and dining out costs, but my world was shaken when I looked at the income totals. Like a growing number of men, my wife makes more than me, her career being much more in demand these days. This I knew from the start; we’re not that far off but there is, as the left would put it, an apparent income inequality. Like most spouses, we are free to spend small amounts for fun, gadgets and the like, but the larger expenditures (anything over say $200-$300) need to be run by one another to ensure its within budget or qualifies as an emergency expenditure. In fact, I would be hard pressed to say that either one of us has ever wanted for anything within reason since we were married. This is why I was shocked at the figures that came from calculating our annual household income; shocked however, isn’t really the word, more like appalled, angry, frustrated and down right offended.

I used our pay stubs to calculate our income, and for fun started with gross aggregate income (if you’ve never done it give it a shot, it’s enlightening.) My shock came not when the individual taxes were deducted, but only after the net incomes were combined and compared to the gross. Our household net income turns out to be, near as makes no difference, almost the same as my wife’s gross income. After taxes, my whole year of work translates into only about $3,000 that my family ever gets to see. It was a striking viewpoint. One can argue about tax rates and who pays what bills, but in the grand scheme of things; when it all gets laid out on the table as a family, nearly all of the work I do every day is just going to pay the family’s taxes.

As a husband, those numbers made me sick to my stomach, to know that nearly all of my salary goes to someone other than my family is as disheartening as it gets. It’s one thing to see the taxes taken out of your check every two weeks, it is quite another to put it into net versos gross annual terms. Coming to the realization that nearly all of what I earn goes into someone else’s checkbook has given me the true meaning of words I long tried to exemplify, and if I may paraphrase Ayn Rand, ” An end must be put to the infamy of paying with one life for the errors of another.” – Ed K.

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