"This is what the Lord says: "Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, and ask where the good way is, and walk in it. You will find rest for your soul."
Jeremiah 6:16 NIV
"There Goes Another Monkey Wrench"
By Jerry Stewart - Vision Productions
Did you know that the first tax return in the U.S. was a total of only four pages long? That's right! And get this, those four pages were for all taxpayers including businesses and corporations, and it also included all necessary instructions.
The first income tax rates ranged from one per cent to 5%, and one U.S. Senator warned that if the income tax system wasn't monitored carefully by Congress, that the income tax rates could go as high as 10%; if he had only known.
Well, in their efforts to make this whole income tax thing as confusing as possible, our U.S. Congress has thrown another monkey wrench into our upcoming tax season. What did they do? They waited until the last minute to pass certain what they call "extender" provisions until the very end of the year - December 20 to be exact - and because they waited until the last minute, the tax forms were already printed, and now the forms are wrong.
So, what are they going to do? First of all, the IRS is going to conduct a special mailing of extra instructions to all taxpayers which is, of course, going to cost millions of our tax dollars to mail out.
Now, let me insert here. I'm not trying to complain -- I'm just downright peeved that Congress had been wrangling over these last many "extenders" all year long. Why didn't they settle it in June or September, anytime before the last minute? They continue to spend our US dollars like it's their money. And, you know what; I believe they think it is their money.
So what are these last-minute "extender" deductions you must watch for? First, they allowed for a second year, the sales tax deduction for those states that don't have state income tax. That law is a good one -- it should stay indefinitely. They've also extended the educator expense, a special expense allowed for teachers and other educators. The last, so-called "extender" is the deduction for higher education tuition and fees.
Now you want to be confused? Listen to this. If you want to take, for example, the educator expense, don't claim it on the line labeled "educator expense" - that line's not there. Instead, go to line 23, "Archer MSA deduction" and put the deduction there. Then put an "E" on the dotted line for educator. But, hold it, what if you're taking both deductions? Then, don't put an "E", put a "B." for both. But, there's more. If you enter a "B" you must attach a breakdown showing the amounts claimed for each deduction.
Come on Congress - get with the program. Help us out before we have a breakdown. Well, that's all for now. For the next few minutes, try not to think about it. Until next time, don't forget - even though Congress has forgotten - IT'S YOUR MONEY!