My Time is Not Very Valuable

I spent over $409.50 on New York City and State Sales Taxes last year. I know this because I spent about two and a half hours tonight painstakingly sorting through all of my receipts and adding up the sales tax on those receipts generated in 2006.

As you know, Bob, the Federal Government allows you to deduct state taxes paid from your income. The IRS gives you a choice: either deduct your state's income tax or its sales tax. For most people this means deducting income taxes. State income taxes are easy to calculate and usually larger than sales taxes paid. Looking at the numbers, though, I realized 1. that I would not be paying any state income tax after various credits and deductions were applied, and 2. I had paid a lot of state sales tax over the year. Never mind the fact that I would just wind up taking the Standard Deduction anyway, the moment I realized that I could calculate my state sales tax I was determined to do so.

This was all made possible because, as you may know, I'm a little neurotic about receipts. Which is to say, I never throw them away. Ever. I have all my receipts dating back to the hamburger I ordered the day my dad dropped me off at college in 2001. Now, at last, they could be put to good use. I had to separate the 2006 receipts from the other years, and I had to remove from the 2006 pile those receipts where I didn't pay sales tax (principally ATM withdrawal receipts and receipts from supermarkets and clothing stores, which don't charge sales tax in New York City. With some exceptions). Then I added them all up, set them aside in a new file folder labelled "Receipts - 2006 - Tax" and filed them away with my other receipts. Then I entered the number in the e-file form, learned that I had $410 of itemized deductions compared to the $3,300 standard deduction, and just took the standard one. It didn't matter either way, since I didn't make enough to be taxed in any case, but I liked the extra cushioning the standard deduction provided.

I knew all along that I'd end up taking the standard deduction. So why'd I do it? Well, when all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail, and when all you have is a giant box of receipts, you start looking for reasons to put them to good use. In a way, computing my total sales tax felt like justification for all the years of pack-rattery. "Who's laughing now, IRS?" I could say. "Bring on the audits! I've got a paper trail three feet deep justifying every penny of my state sales tax deduction!"

It was also nostalgic. Everything that happened in the year 2006 that had some sort of purchase associated with it is recorded in those receipts. My purchase of a Junta at Games of Berkeley reminded me of my trip out to San Francisco to interview with Cooley Godward and see Dianna. A receipt from a drug store in Hyde Park recalled my trip to Chicago to visit Pam. I had two Nintendo World receipts to memorialize my two long waits in line to buy Wiis for myself and my sisters last Winter.

I even discovered a weird coincidence: I found a receipt to a Europa Cafe on 5th Avenue. I had bought a snapple there on an exruciatingly aweful date last August. On the back I found a name and a phone number. Both belonged to a girl I had met at a vegan brunch the weekend after the terrible date. I eventually called that number and a good date came out of it. It didn't lead anywhere, but it was a lot of fun. I just thought it was amusing that the two dates were tied together by that slip of paper.

In a way, my receipts are like a historical record of my life, and probably one of the more accurate ones you're likely to find. I would wager that a box containing a lifetime record of a person's purchases would tell a lot more about that person than any journal they may have written. I'm creating a dream reference for some future historian.

Now the work is done and the taxes are filed. I'll bet I had more fun going through those receipts that I had the entire rest of this weekend. Which either tells you something about how much I like receipts or how wild a life I live outside of receipts. Or both.

February 2012
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
      1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29      

Contact Zach


Webcomics of Which I am a Fan

Sites I Read Daily: Politics

Sites I Read Daily: Video Gaming

Sites I Read Daily: General Miscellany

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Zach published on April 9, 2007 3:58 AM.

Sub-Rosa Catholicism was the previous entry in this blog.

Comment Policy! is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Powered by Movable Type 5.04