enough to pay taxes

Declare the pennies on your eyes.
Well, yesterday was a fine example of Dave’s First Axiom of Finance: There’s no such thing as extra money. Ever since we moved into the house, I’ve been getting property tax bills from the county. When I set up my mortgage, I had them open an escrow account that I pay into each month to cover my taxes and homeowners insurance, I assumed everything was OK. After getting and immediately filing several bills, I got a little paranoid once and contacted my mortgage company to make sure the escrow account would pay the taxes as promised – they confirmed that all was OK. So, I went on happily filing the now-familiar tax bills in my unread “property tax” pile. Around December-time, I even got a statement from my escrow company which showed that they’d paid my taxes and all was well. I was happy.

Happy until, on Monday, Anthony mentioned just got stung on some kind of “supplemental property taxes.” Apparently, he had been blindly filing his tax bills in some drawer as well – thinking his escrow account would take care of them. I guess he’s a tad more observant than I am – because he noticed the word “DELINQUENT” on one of his bills. He opened it to find that, whatever these “supplemental taxes” are, they were marked “unpaid” and had a $100 penalty attached. He told me to take a look through my pile and make sure I wasn’t getting hit with the same thing. It was funny, because I had just gotten another one of the bills upon getting back from Taiwan this past week. Which, Anthony said, was right about when he got his.

Upon getting home, I found that I was indeed in the same boat as Anthony. My supplemental taxes are marked “unpaid” and there’s a $100 fine attached. So, I now owe the county some $2000… not a nice unexpected bill. Ugh. After a thorough review of my escrow account and property taxes due, I arrived at the conclusion that taxes suck ass. And not only that, the people that put together these statements are sadistic idiots of a breed unknown to me, who can read gibberish legalese and use a numbering system which is foreign to this planet. On top of that, they use old dot matrix printers and some Fortran script to print what’s possibly the most illegible and cryptic missives known to man, sprinkled with words like “anticipated disbursements” and “targeted cushion amount.”

Anyway, the whole point of this story was to demonstrate Dave’s First Axiom of Finance. Rewind a couple weeks to find me sitting in my comfy computer chair, doing my taxes with TaxCut. After an hour so, I happily announce to Sharaun that we’ll be getting $2000 back this year! Wow, having a house really paid off – writing off that interest put us in the “itemizing” range, and we’re finally getting some cash back. Oh, but wait… I now owe exactly $2000 in “supplemental property taxes.” Funny how having a house enables me to get just enough back from my taxes that I can now afford to pay… my taxes. I shoulda never thought of that money as “extra,” that’s the kiss of death. If you get unexpected money, try your hardest to think of it as a curse… maybe then the God of Breaking Even won’t smite you as he smote me. Good luck.

Enough about dough. Last night we watched the movie Thirteen. I had been anticipating it, since it got such rave reviews. Turns it out is based on a true story of one thirteen year old girl’s desire to be popular – and the self-destruction that comes from pursuing it. I was expecting something shocking and interesting. I guess it was a little of both, but I kinda felt like it wasn’t as well done as it could have been. At first, the whole thing was a little too over-the-top for me. Kind of like a souped up after-school-special, and just a little too Go Ask Alice-ish. But as the movie developed, I ended up accepting it for what it is: a decent statement on what some girls go through during those initial teenage years. Yeah, so they chose to profile an atypically extreme example, but I wonder how atypical? I guess that’s the point. So yeah, it made me think – but it was nowhere near as riveting as Spellbound.

Loving the Modest Mouse album more and more… the song “Float On” is genius, a real foot-tapper. Dave out.

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