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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Dead Presidents: A Taxing Situation

Abe Lincoln was shot April 14, 1865 and died the next day. So we do "celebrate" the Lincoln assassination by forking over our pennies (and $5s) to the government?

Unfortunately, that got me to thinking Kellyesque weird thoughts:

What have we done for James Garfield, who was shot on July 2 (in his first months in office) in DC but didn't die until September 19? What did the country do? Chester Arthur was Vice-President, but the 25th Amendment, of course, hadn't been passed. Did Arthur take over anyway? Inquiring minds want to know. I discovered that if one types in Garfield in Google Images, one finds several pictures of the cartoon feline.

Then there was William McKinley, the only President assassinated in the state of New York, or indeed, north of the Mason-Dixon line, shot September 6, died September 14, 1901, with our youngest President, TR, taking over.

Maybe we can have a joint Garfield-McKinley Memorial Day. Yeah, right - how many Americans can even identify Garfield as a U.S. president? At least McKinley had served a term and has a mountain named for him.

Of course, JFK ended up on the 50-cent piece (not to be confused with the former Curtis Jackson). They changed the name of Cape Canaveral to Cape Kennedy, in honor of his vision of going to the moon. Then they changed it back.
Anyway, I didn't mind filing my income tax, back in the day when I was just using the simple forms 1040A or 1040EZ. Since I've been married, though, it has meant itemizing, which never fails to mystify me. I STILL don't know the difference between ordinary dividends and qualified dividends.

Then there is the Alternative Minimum Tax, allegedly designed to keep the rich from paying nothing, but which somehow has become the bane of the more moderate wage earners.

O.K. Question 45 is about the AMT, which requires that one needs to fill out a worksheet just to answer that one question:

2. Enter the
smaller of the amount on Schedule A, line 4 or 2.5% (.025) of the amount on Form 1040, line 38.

But my favorite is this:

7. Enter the amount from Form 8962, line 2

What the heck is Form 8962? I went to the IRS website, but this wasn't on the list of forms. Finally, I searched the site to discover that 8962 is a form for "Exemption Amount for Taxpayers Housing Individuals Displaced by Hurricane Katrina". O.K. Bottom line, I spent nearly an hour figuring out one question, the answer of which is ZERO.

Every year is just slightly, maddeningly different. When they came up with the 16th Amendment, which is comprised of merely 30 words, did they envision the monstrosity that the tax code has become?

Fortunately, we have a few extra days to file because the 15th is on a Saturday. Those of us to send our returns to Andover, MA get yet ANOTHER day, because April 17 is Patriot's Day in Massachusetts. And since I believe we're going to end up paying, we're going to s-t-r-e-t-c-h out the process as long as possible.
You probably heard that Katrina was retired as a hurricane name, but four other names were retired as well. If memory serves, Stan hit Central America around the same time as the deadly earthquakes in Pakistan, so it didn't get as much play as it otherwise would have warranted.
In his post of April 11, friend Fred noted that I corrected him over Hugh Hefner's birthday. In answer to that question I got, "How did I know THAT?", let's be clear here - I HADN'T marked Hef's 80th natal celebration on my calendar; I just happened to see a piece on CBS Sunday Morning. Why, I don't even BUY Playboy, not even for the interviews. And the next time I go to a Playboy mansion will be the first. Or doth he protest too much?


Greg said...

You got spammed! Bwah-ha-ha-ha!

We don't honor Garfield because he wasn't alive long enough to make a mark. As for your question about what the country did, I consulted my book about Garfield: Dark Horse by Kenneth Ackerman (which I haven't read yet). Unfortunately, Ackerman doesn't say a lot about who, exactly, was governing the country. It appears that Arthur, backed by Roscoe Conkling, governed, but remember that Garfield wasn't completely incapacitated, so I imagine he was able to at least advise on policy. It was also a far slower world, so perhaps during the few months he lingered nothing really demanded his attention.

Nik said...

You ever hear Johnny Cash's song about Garfield and his assassin Guiteau? Darkly amusing stuff. Garfield and McKinley do get the shaft when it comes to the attention.

Sarah Vowell's "Assassination Vacation" is also a good read about the assassinations (except for Kennedy)

GayProf said...

Have you ever notice nobody really can remember the presidents between U.S. Grant and T.R. Roosevelt? There is a good reason: They tended to be fairly useless.

Roger Owen Green said...

GP- I'll have you know I know ALL of my Presidents. For instance, I think Hayes was significant for the tainted election process, the deconstruction of Reconstruction, and for Lemonade Lucy.

Nik- Thanks for the tips.

Greg- Bwah, indeed. Thanks to you, too.

GayProf said...

Fair enough about Hayes -- He made an evil deal to end Reconstruction just so he get into office. Though, it also suggests that he was useless as a president.

Lynn said...

Qualified dividends are a way to give a tax break to the wealthiest people. A qualified dividend is a dividend from a stock owned for a certain length of time. This is like the tax break on long term capital gains. The maximum tax on qualified dividends is 15 percent. I own a few stocks and though my investments didn't change throughout the year, my dividends increased by 30 percent, unlike my wages, tips, etc. from W2. Which way do you think the money is flowing in this society?

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