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Congress and Taxes

January 13, 2010

Hey, Congress!  Go screw!  Yeah, you heard me!  Go screw! 

I was reviewing the latest changes to the 2009 tax laws (I really like tax season) and saw that they passed into law that you can deduct the sales tax you paid on a new car.  Awesome!  We bought a new car!  Woohoo increased deduction!  I then checked the fine print and it said you can only claim the deduction if you purchased the car after February 16, 2009 and before Jan 1st 2010.  Where the *#&$* did Congress come up with those dates!?  Why not make it retroactive for all of 2009!?  Does someone have some sort of personal animosity about the dates between December 31st 2008 and February 17th 2009?  I’m pissed about this because we, of course, bought our car in January, meaning we are ineligible for the deduction.  What a load of crap!  My wife and I did our part to try to stimulate the economy  so how does Congress thank us?  By giving us a big middle finger!  This is the type of garbage that makes you want to just scream and give up on the whole system.  However, rather than give up I decided to call the IRS help line and get the scoop on what was going on.

First off, the system was actually quite good, but there were some rather funny moments, the best of which was when the automated message said, “You have reached the IRS help line.  For questions about new tax laws, press seven.  For questions about your refund, press one.”  What monkey programmed that system!  Only the IRS could justify the first option being seven and the second option being one.  Oh well.  After a few minutes I got to speak to a live representative, which is less time than it took to get through to the Best Buy Consumer help line (More on that in a future post)!  The woman was quite helpful and very knowledgable (and she didn’t have an Indian accent), which was quite refreshing.  After speaking to her I found out the following:  It turns out that the vehicle sales tax deduction is designed to benefit people who normally take a standard deduction.  If you itemize you already have the option of claiming vehicle sales tax (assuming you choose to deduct sales tax versus income tax), but if you use the standard deduction and bought a car between Jan 1st 2009 and Feb 16th 2009 you’re still screwed. 

So, it turns out the government didn’t really screw me because I itemize my deduction, but if I did take a standard deduction I’d be really pissed.  Like, as pissed as I was when I thought it did affect me.  Ahh…tax law…the thing no one cares about until it affects them.  Or, as Leila put it in Futurama when she suddenly made a ton of money in the stock market, “I suddenly have an opinion on the capital gains tax!”  Funny stuff.

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