Dear Caesar,

Finally got the taxes in the mail.  Summary of my thoughts for the 2010 season:

  • Gee those forms are getting complicated.  I had all easy ones this year, so no big deal.  But wow, that’s a lot of laws.  I printed off a 1040EZ for my form-loving daughter to play with, remembering the nice simple document the EZ was last time I looked at one, over a decade ago.  Not so.  Even the EZ isn’t EZ anymore.
  • Making work pay?  Mmmn.  Well, I appreciated the discount.  But . . . a) What about our federal debt?  and b) See “complicated forms” above.  Always one more thing.  If we can afford to lower taxes, let’s just lower them, no Schedule M required.  If we can’t afford to, then what’s with the populist pandering?
  • (Yes, I know what’s with the populist pandering.  Yes I do.  Smart Alek.)
  • I kinda missed getting my packet of forms in the mail. I think the move to 100% digital was brilliant, and a necessary cost-saving measure.  In the end I printed out my 1040 instructions and stuck them in a 3-ring binder, which turned out to be much easier to work with then the old newsprint booklet.  But despite all that, I did whine a little . . .
  • Because I like getting stuff in the mail!  Plus that big envelope is handy when you have a lot of forms to send in!  I had to stuff everything into a little office envelope this year, ’cause it was all I had lying around.  Plus, I almost forgot to do my taxes — (I know!) — because there was no 1040 booklet sitting on my desk to remind me.
  • Still, I support the switch.  IRS gets a thumb’s up once again on a useful and well-run website.  Was able to find everything I needed easily.  Well done.  Yay IRS.
  • LOVED the fillable Adobe forms this year.  That was a highlight.
  • Count me in the six remaining people still mailing in paper forms. I was pleased to see there’s now  a free electronic filing option for those of us who do our taxes by hand.  But sorry, not enough info on which company is running the program, and what their reputation is, and all of that.  I would have used the electronic file if the IRS were running it themselves.  I’ll consider outsourced e-file in the future, once I get more info about how it worked this year on the guinea pigs.

In all it was  a pretty good tax year, probably my fastest one in the past ten years.  No weird stuff to monkey with, so the spreadsheet was ready to go as-was from 2009.  Our real federal income tax rate was about 4%.  That’s not counting self-employment taxes, medicare or social security.  Just the amount of income tax  as a percentage of gross income.

Sounds low, but I don’t think it is.  –> Taken as part of the larger tax picture, where you add in state income tax, the various social welfare taxes, property taxes, etc., that percentage seems okay to me.

Which tells me maybe the federal debt equation is better managed by spending less.  Hmmn?


If anyone is game for comparing real federal rates, I’m curious.  Please don’t post any income information! Just the ratio of the total federal income tax you owed (roughly, line 55, less any credits from lines 63-71) as compared to your gross income on line 22.

This will be a very individualized number, so kindly refrain from explaining it, since you may end up sharing more personal details than are seemly, even for the internet.  Just the percentage.  That’s what financial policy geeks care about most.

11 thoughts on “Dear Caesar,

  1. Heh! This year we had to prove that our 7 children did, in fact, exist, so that we could claim them on our tax return.

    “Hey, David! Do you still exist?”


    “Well, do ya?”


    “Uncle Sam wants to know, David!”


    1. We seem to all be running ballpark. Which I suppose is how it’s made to work, hehe.

      (Although one of my readers reported in a 0% via e-mail. So there you go.)

  2. Nine percent federal. Six percent state. These are last year’s numbers because we (=my husband, who does not do things the way I do them, which is what they should review in pre-marital counseling: Who will be in charge of getting the taxes done and by what date?) have not completed this year’s, but I don’t think there will be a big difference.

    I have decided it is not worth it for me to work unless I get the big bucks, because of the $1,100 I made working for a friend, about $500 is going for federal, state and self-employment taxes. Grrrrr.

    1. Interestingly, my rate this year is much lower than in previous years. (I don’t think I calculated it last year, but last time I did the calculation, it was much more like what you had last year.) This despite fairly steady income from year to year.

      Interesting real-life observation re: tax rates and the incentive to work. Not to discourage you from working for other reasons — the experience, worthwhile causes, etc.

      And I agree totally re: marriage prep. Totally. I would add: We need to decide once you have children, *who will watch the children* while the other person does taxes. Ahem. Did I say that out loud? Oh dear.

      1. Not to discourage you from working for other reasons — the experience, worthwhile causes,

        But if I am going to net almost nothing for working, then I would rather work for free. That is, I would rather volunteer, which is what I do, and do it at my convenience. It’s too depressing to think of working for so little. Better to start out with the idea that I am making no money from the endeavor.

        1. Oh I can see that. I’m working only non-paying jobs right now. Lets me do what I want to do, when I want to do it, and say no to the rest.

          (Helps that I like to do things that don’t pay.)

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