Hi. I've been away. In actual fact, I bought a business. I have joined the ranks of the terminally tired, eternally frazzled but gloriously "un-bossed" entrepreneurs of our great nation. I really don't even have time to write this, but...I thought it should be shared.
Let me just say that being a “real” business owner is a fiscal nightmare. And an accountant’s dream, I suppose. I’ve decided that accountants must have a powerful lobby in Washington, because the layers upon layers of IRS rules and regulations governing just payroll are mind-boggling. This is to say nothing of the quarterly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, biennial, semi-annual, multilateral, interracial, and multi-orgasmic reports that have to be filed by a legitimate business, with every agent behind every desk of every federal and state bureaucracy in existence. One could hardly afford not to hire an accountant…one would be have no time to run one’s own business if one tried to wade through this by oneself.
We had an amazing weekend catering at an event with my old business (the twenty-foot concession trailer) this past weekend. Like shooting fish in a barrel, as the old saying goes. We brought in more money than we ever have at a weekend event. More money, in fact, than my newly acquired café brought in all of last month. Which gave me pause this morning…and touched off a tiny tug-of-war in my head. For the first time in my life, I felt the overwhelming desire to cheat on my taxes. Not just the little white-lie cheating that everybody does. I mean big cheating.
We don’t use a cash register in the catering booth. You add up the transaction in your head, throw the money in the money box, and hope you have given out the right change. (Those of us of a certain age actually know how to make change, which is more than I can say for any one of the employees I inherited with my new business…but I digress.) So, I thought about that eighteen-inch-tall stack of money I took to the bank, and I thought…no one but me knows exactly what our sales were over the weekend. My accountant doesn’t know…my husband doesn’t know. The bank doesn’t know, because I made deposits in two different banks. We have no cash register, so there is no paper trail. The only figures in existence are in an Excel spreadsheet on my computer, and I can change those to read anything I want.
I’ve never really been tempted to cheat on my taxes before--for two reasons. The first reason being that I am the kind of person that cannot get away with anything. I got pulled over by a cop once, and he told me he’d have to give me a ticket this time, but the next time he might just write me a warning (?!?) I exude some kind of guilt pheromone when I’m trying to get away with something not quite savory. So I generally just don’t bother.
But the second reason is, I always felt that my tax money was, for the most part, being put to proper use. I knew that if I expected the society in which I lived to provide things like education for the children, support for the indigent, good roads and police protection, I needed to ante up. I never could understand these anti-taxation idiots who whine about taxing being excessive and illegal, but grumble out of the other side of their mouths about the potholes and the lack of prison beds, and want to run around the world with a big stick to make the rest of the world toe the line. Where the hell do they think the money comes from to make these things happen?
Which brings me back to my newly-inspired desire to cheat on my taxes. I look at what my country is, in this day and age, and exactly where that tax money is going, and I think, “I’m sorry, I can’t support any of this.” I can’t support an illegal war financed with billions of dollars that could and should be going to support the indigent, educate the children, fix the roads, fund research to free us from the burden of dependency upon foreign oil, clean up our environment and make sure we leave our planet fit for our children to inhabit. I can’t pour my blood sweat and tears into the pit of deficit spending created by our GOP-led government. I can’t give my money to the people who will continue to ignore, abuse and disenfranchise me and the rest of the middle class at every opportunity. It would be like buying a .44 magnum and pointing it at my own head.
So, I wonder…how many tax cheats does this administration create each day? And why do I feel as if this—this difficult choice between two wrongs—is just one more betrayal of the middle class by the Bush Administration and the GOP?