Monday, April 17, 2006

Taxation without representation, indeed.

I mailed my taxes out today. At the last possible minute, for very good reason. I had to mail out checks totaling $2,000, so I put it off as long as I could.

To say that I'm not a happy camper would be putting it lightly.

It wouldn't feel so bad, if I knew that the money would be used for things I believed in or used. But I know that the bulk of the federal money will probably go to fund a war (or warS) that I'm morally opposed to. As for my state money, I'm sure that will go to make sure the roads in southern Wisconsin are flawless, while those of us in the northern part of the state will continue to be largely ignored, and have to make do with what we have. "Well, our potholes aren't too big. Yet."

It's frustrating.

And, though I haven't lived in the state of Louisiana since June of 2004, I'm still going to owe them $37 on my 2005 return. I'm beginning to think that the state of Louisiana will never stop fucking me over.

I'm so irritated, that I briefly considered taking what's left of my box of Vanilla Chai Latte mix, walking to the nearby creek and dumping it in, ceremoniously.

But I'm sure nobody would get it.

Then I'd just be poor AND thirsty.


Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

Ugh! That's so aggravating. I'm sincerely sorry you owe Louisiana $37. Tough break. It's probably going to St. Mary Parish too, isn't it?

Ugh again.

April 17, 2006 3:43 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

I'm not sure where my $37 will go. I owe it because I wasn't able to get my money out of the Louisiana Teacher Retirement fund until January of '05. $500 of it went to the U.S. Government off the top, but apparently your state also wants a piece of me. I guess my tears, sweat, sanity, idealism, innocence, self-confidence, not to mention my CAR weren't quite enough.

I still have a balance of $37.

We shouldn't be surprised.

And I was only there for a year+. I can't imagine what you're going to owe once you get out of there.

April 17, 2006 3:50 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

It would be nice if I could have gotten away with paying $2,000 in taxes. My fiance will be getting back roughly $2k b/c of child tax credit for her little girl.

The whole tax system needs to be wiped out and done over.

April 17, 2006 4:15 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

How much did you MAKE though? I don't make that much, but I got screwed over because none of my various employers withheld enough.

April 17, 2006 4:52 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Well, I don't disclose in public what I make. I had to pay about $15,000 total (almost 2K per quarter during last yr. & owed another 7K by April 15). I actually only paid 6K for April, though, as I deverted as much money as allowed into an IRA. That saved me 1K and kept that money out of the hands of corrupt and dumb politicians.

I was self-employed last year, so I paid double in S.S. & Medicaid, which means I'm getting screwed b/c I can't keep half to save for my retirement. S.S. won't even be around by the time I want to retire.

I only owed $24 to LA, though, as I lived in TX for the first half of the yr. and worked out of a hotel in MS for the second half w/ no real residence, so at least I was able to keep money out of the hands of my state politicians.

Unfortunately, I don't have a corrupt CPA, so I pay an honest amount of taxes.

April 17, 2006 6:21 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

Damn. That blows, Nick. Hardcore. The double S.S./Medicare stuff is no fun. I had to do that the first year I had to file, thanks to having to declare tips I didn't even earn. Long story. But, I definitely sympathize.

April 17, 2006 6:32 PM  
Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

I can't imagine owing anything once I get out of here. I have never made enough money in Louisiana to even pay taxes.

April 18, 2006 12:06 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

Yes, but in Louisiana you don't really have to make money to owe taxes. We have politicians who can't resist approving any new tax or any increase that gets passed before their eyes...and some people wonder why we're the only southern state losing population, before the hurricanes.

April 18, 2006 6:42 AM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

I don't think it was just the tax situation, Nick...

April 18, 2006 9:40 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

I think it is. I mean, I know Louisiana doesn't look appealing, but what's appealing about Mississippi, Arkansas, and Alabama? Nothing. Mississippi sucks, and I would know b/c I just spent 6 months working there. Yet, Mississippi even has an increasing population. The main factors driving people from Louisiana are:

1. Corrupt politics
2. High taxation despite the fact we have the lowest per capita
3. Economic growth is nill due to #1 & #2.

When college grads are leaving Louisiana for better paying jobs in Mississippi and Arkansas, something is wrong and politicians need to be fired.

April 18, 2006 10:56 AM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

Hmm. You make a good point. I was in a McDonalds in Arkansas once, and the bathroom floor was covered in pee.

Are the other states seeing actual growth, or just not losing as much population? Do you have the statistics? I'm interested to see.

Does the fact that Louisiana uses a different legal system than everyone else play a part at all? I would think that would impact business growth in the state. A lawyer friend of mine once said that he'd consider working in any state in the U.S. besides Louisiana, because it's so confusing.

April 18, 2006 11:02 AM  
Blogger Nick said...

1. I'll have to correct myself. According to this map:

only 2 states and/or districts in the U.S. are actually losing population, N. Dakota and D.C. However, Louisiana is by far the slowest growing southern state, at 1.2%. Meanwhile, the two states that I really consider to be the butt of the South, AK and MS, are growing at 4.0% and 2.7% respectively. The South in general is growing at a fast rate, due to many people moving down who are tired of shoveling snow and/or retiring. However, what do AR and MS have to offer that makes them kick LA's ass in population growth?

2. I don't think Louisiana's legal system itself is to blame for businesses not wanting to come here. Sure, it is different. I know from my own profession experience that Louisiana is different from any other state in its oil & gas laws. But why would an oil company not want to do business here just b/c of different laws, especially when our state has many vast O&G resources?

The problem is that most of the politicians make the business climate unattractive to many businesses. About 10 years ago, Mercedies Benz wanted a new plant in the South and was looking very hard at St. Martinville, LA. A good spot with open land, constant traffic, and a growing Lafayette population and economy (Lafayette is one of the few regions in LA that is experiencing good economic growth). Well, b/c of all the demands made and start-up taxes imposed (thanks Mike Foster), Mercedies Benz took their plant to Jackson, MS instead.

Shell Oil, one of the Big 4 in oil companies, is making plans to open up plant and big office in New Orleans right now. With the current success of the oil business, Shell could bring in a good amount of revenue to the state and to a needy New Orleans, which providing jobs for hundreds, maybe a thousand, people in the region, which is currently reeling from Katrina. Well, soon after Shell reveals these plans, what do some of our state legislators decide? They want to pass a bill adding on more taxes any oil company wanting to do business in Louisiana. Nevermind that this might keep Shell, one of the majors who pulled out of LA in the '90s, from being the first major to move back to LA. If this new tax blows these kind of deals, Louisiana's citizens will only suffer more.

April 18, 2006 12:20 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

I assume by AK you mean AR? AK probably isn't growing much either though. Too cold and remote.

How do you propose to balance making an area business-friendly while maintaining environmental, health and aesthetic factors? I'm not picking an arguement, I'm just curious about your theory on that.

April 18, 2006 3:00 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

Well, I'm not sure, as I don't get paid to determine that. We pay, with our tax dollars, people 100k+ per year to decide on that. I have no problem with environmental regulations, as long as they are reasonable. For example, I boycotted Shell Oil for almost a year b/c they were using natural gas terminals in our Gulf Coast region that were releasing chemicals harmful to the marine life and could easily be replaced for more environmentaly safe equipment. Eventually, Shell complied. But yes, even though I am an oil person myself, I understand the necessary balances b/twn evironment and industry, that's why I'm a lifetime CCA member. But, Louisiana's tax structure for businesses is the main problem, not evironmental regulations.

April 18, 2006 6:18 PM  
Blogger Flamingo Jones said...

I dunno...I have opinions, theories and ideas about all KINDS of things I don't get PAID to think about.

April 18, 2006 6:56 PM  
Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

Arkansas is growing because, for the south, it's actually a progressive state. I spent some time a few years ago in Fayetteville, and was impressed by the mix of people there. I've been all over the state throughout my life, and pound for pound people there are different than you would probably expect. Clinton wasn't governor for a decade there for no reason.

And Nick, you're right about environmental regulations not being an issue in LA is right on the money. We don't have any! Have you ever seen an environmental map of Lafayette? Almost the entire city is blanketed in hazardous waste. And don't get me started on what is lovingly referred to as "Cancer Alley."

Also, a state can't rely entirely on oil revenue, or any other singular industry. Lafayette learned that in 1986-87 when the oil glut almost destroyed the city's entire economic base. Of course the oil industry needs to get back on its feet; but what Louisiana really needs is a more diversified economy. It has never really had one, because there's no incentive for people to come here. And I guarantee you, Nick, it isn't because they're all discussing the tax system. That doesn't even make the list.

April 18, 2006 10:03 PM  
Blogger Nick said...


People don't move to a state b/c of progressive politics. If that was true, people wouldn't be flocking to Georgia and Texas.

In regards to LA business and taxes:

1. 34th ranking in Corporate Income Tax Index (not good, high taxes)

2. 27th in State Business Income Tax Index

3. Actually rank 3rd!! in State Corporate Income Tax Rate, yet some state, Texas included, have no corporate income tax rate.

#'s 1 and 2 equal out to industries choosing other states to open up businesses and employ citizens.

Also, Louisiana had the 16th highest State-Local Tax Burden for citizens in 2005, meanwhile, our state ranked 42nd last year in per capita income, AFTER adjustments were made for hurricane losses. We weren't any better the years before. All that equal citizens leaving for better jobs in states with lower income and business tax rates. Face it, the current LA Legislature strategy of approving every tax that passes their noses is one of the main reasons why people and businesses were leaving in very high numbers before the hurricanes.

April 19, 2006 8:28 AM  
Blogger Ian McGibboney said...

Nick, I'm not discounting the tax burden; but like I said, other reasons exist, and are more prevalent in the national consciousness.

Louisiana consistently ranks in the bottom in terms of poverty, scholastic dropouts, teen pregnancies, environmental hazards, honest government and other factors. Very few major businesses (ones that could have a positive impact on the state, as opposed to, say, toxic-waste incinerators) are willing to hedge their bets on such a potentially risky labor base.

This rings ESPECIALLY true since Kat-Rita. Not only did those hurricanes destory much of our infrastructure, but the government has given us no hope that it will ever be rebuilt the way it needs to be. You talk about taxes, Nick, but it's a moot issue when there's NOWHERE to set up shop. You have to admit, Kat-Rita was the worst-handled disaster in American history. Our state's proud legacy of corruption finally caught up with it, made worse by the most incompetent administration this nation's ever had.

April 19, 2006 11:04 AM  

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