I read a post on another one of my favorite blogs recently that rubbed me the wrong way a little bit. I'm not going to point it out because I don't think the post was written with the intent to get anybody upset. Plus, it actually dovetailed into some other advice that was practical and useful for many. But it still gave me enough pause that I wanted to vent a bit. The post started with the author complaining that he's paying more in taxes than most.
Some background first. The is a professional blogger who writes a lot about his profession. I can tell that he's very knowledgeable, and I would wager that he is very good and very successful at what he does.
As such, I think he probably earns quite a good living. Which, just to make very clear, I am 100% fine with. People that do good work and are compensated well for it, I really have no problem at all with.
However, where it went a little off course was that he just jumped right into the fact that he was paying a lot of taxes, and glossed right over what I consider the even more important part of it. What's that? It's simple.
He's paying a lot more in taxes because he's making a lot more money.
Mo' Money, Mo' Taxes
See, when you shift the focus of the sentence, you could easily look at the “making more money” aspect, in which case, who would complain about that? Nobody. Nobody at all would complain about making more money, right?
But, if you're paying more in taxes, aren't you, in essence, complaining about making more money?
Now, I know that tax law is complicated and there are tons of factors that go into what people pay, so I know that people can make the same money and pay wildly different amounts in taxes, and vice versa, but I think it's a safe bet to say that someone who pays $5,000 in taxes is likely making a lot less than someone who pays $25,000 in taxes.
See, it's all about perspective. You'd probably never hear the person that pays $5,000 in taxes say “Oh, wow, I wish I was paying $25,000 a year in taxes.” That would sound almost silly, right?
Would You Sacrifice Income For Taxes?
But, what if, for the sake of argument, the two were making $50,000 and $250,000 respectively. Would you think it crazy if the person making $50,000 thought “I wish I was making $250,000 a year”? Of course not, who wouldn't want that?
However, aren't they really saying the same thing?
Let's face it, everybody would like to pay less taxes. I get that. But in the roughly 20 years I've been filing returns, it's a pretty safe bet that if I've paid more taxes versus the prior year that I've started off by making more money. I mean, you can't really have it both ways, so which way would you rather have it, paying more and making more or paying the same but foregoing your growing income? That could very well be the easiest question ever asked on this blog.
Go ahead. Complain about paying more taxes. But think about this. Aren't you really complaining about making more money? Have you ever heard of someone making such a complaint? Well, if you've heard someone complaining that they're paying tens of thousands of dollars in taxes, you may in fact have.
The post could have been nullified a bit. Perhaps starting things off with “Our income was good last year, but even so, it still sucks paying $<amount> in taxes.” Acknowledging the other side might have earned a tad bit more empathy from me, anyway.
Readers, what do you think? Do you see complaining about paying more taxes almost as complaining about making too much money?