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My most recent tax bill was ...

Displaying poll results.
Negative
  8811 votes / 44%
Zero
  1939 votes / 9%
More than zero, but not surprisingly so
  4363 votes / 21%
More than zero, in the nasty-surprise way
  3150 votes / 15%
Unpaid
  1675 votes / 8%
19938 total votes.
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  • Don't complain about lack of options. You've got to pick a few when you do multiple choice. Those are the breaks.
  • Feel free to suggest poll ideas if you're feeling creative. I'd strongly suggest reading the past polls first.
  • This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important, you're insane.
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My most recent tax bill was ...

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  • always zero (Score:5, Funny)

    by GhigoRenzulli (1687590) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:31AM (#39657515)
    I live in Cayman Islands, you insensitive clod!
    • Re:always zero (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ctrl-alt-canc (977108) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:39AM (#39657651)
      Have you considered that people who are insensitive clods actually evade taxes ?!?
    • by Zocalo (252965)
      Yeah, well, the Cayman's are a great place to live and you have zero tax, but there's not actually all that much tech work with a decent salary to be had there and you're likely to run out of beer money sooner than you might think. That's the problem with the expat zero-tax life; most of the zero tax states either don't have the kind of employment you'd want, or are pretty crappy places to live because of some combination of local politics, climate and social setup. The trick, if you can make it work for yo
      • Re:always zero (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mjwx (966435) on Saturday April 14, 2012 @04:20AM (#39683637)

        Yeah, well, the Cayman's are a great place to live and you have zero tax, but there's not actually all that much tech work with a decent salary to be had there and you're likely to run out of beer money sooner than you might think. That's the problem with the expat zero-tax life; most of the zero tax states either don't have the kind of employment you'd want, or are pretty crappy places to live because of some combination of local politics, climate and social setup.

        Sir you have completely missed the point of living in a place like the Caymans, Philippines or Thailand.

        You don't live there because you have to work there, you live there because you can afford to do so without working. At worst you own a business but that is hit and miss. Most people live of investments in more secure countries or from pensions, a lot of retired American servicemen that live off of military pensions in the Philippines.

        If I had A$50K p/a of income from sources outside of employment, I'd live there.

    • Not necessarily (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anyd (625939) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:55PM (#39669359)
      I spent a year on Grand Cayman. Just about all the consumables on island are imported, and duty is levied against most imported goods, which is typically in the range of 22% to 25%. [wikipedia.org]

      Since I was making minimum wage, and not able to save anything, I was effectively taxed 22% to 25%. The tax haven aspect only works for those who can either afford the extremely expensive living costs, or those who just hide money there.
  • by NetDanzr (619387) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:35AM (#39657597)
    Many people are happy when they get a tax refund. These people probably play the lottery as well. Personally, I always strive to owe as much as possible without incurring penalties ($1000 in the US). It may not be much, but this is a money that I have at my disposal throughout the year, to accrue interest or capital gains. It may not be much, but every penny counts.
    • by hal2814 (725639) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:45AM (#39657733)
      To be fair, most Americans wouldn't accrue interest with that extra money. They'd blow it on cheap stupid shit. At least holding onto it for them and telling them they're "getting" money once per year gives those Americans the opportunity to blow their money on expensive stupid shit.
      • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @02:57PM (#39662609) Homepage Journal

        To be fair, most Americans wouldn't accrue interest with that extra money. They'd blow it on surviving.

        FTFY.

        • by Pfhorrest (545131) on Friday April 13, 2012 @03:00PM (#39677757) Homepage Journal

          As one of the poor people blowing most of my income on surviving, I second GPP's original assertion of "stupid shit".

          Despite making less than most of my working peers, I somehow seem to be the only one of my peers that is financially solvent, because I live within my means; when my means go down, my quality of life goes down (and it's been way down at times), but I still keep my head above water.

          I am constantly amazed at how people who make significantly more money than me can be so deep in the hole. What the hell are they spending all that cash on? Partying and expensive toys, as best as I can tell.

          • by mjwx (966435)

            As one of the poor people blowing most of my income on surviving, I second GPP's original assertion of "stupid shit".

            I am constantly amazed at how people who make significantly more money than me can be so deep in the hole. What the hell are they spending all that cash on? Partying and expensive toys, as best as I can tell.

            It's not that they spend it on "stupid shit". I have a lot of "stupid shit" like big screen TV's, phones, cameras, tablets, computers et al. and there are a lot of Australians who earn twice what I do and are constantly "in the hole" as you say. What's the big difference? I bought all of my shit with my own money, they borrowed. Credit always costs more, always. The credit provider always has to take a chunk, that percentage in Australia can be up to 25% of the purchase price and there are a lot of stupid p

            • by mjwx (966435)
              Just to clarify I'm not against borrowing. Borrowing to invest, to put money into something that will grow such as a house or business and has a good chance of outpacing the interest you'll pay on it is a good thing(TM).

              Borrowing to consume, treating credit as cash is bad.

              With credit, you're paying with other people money and the thing about using other peoples money is that those people will want it back.
          • by snowgirl (978879) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @12:58AM (#39690945) Journal

            As one of the poor people blowing most of my income on surviving, I second GPP's original assertion of "stupid shit".

            Despite making less than most of my working peers, I somehow seem to be the only one of my peers that is financially solvent, because I live within my means; when my means go down, my quality of life goes down (and it's been way down at times), but I still keep my head above water.

            I am constantly amazed at how people who make significantly more money than me can be so deep in the hole. What the hell are they spending all that cash on? Partying and expensive toys, as best as I can tell.

            I used to work for a very reasonable salary. I considered myself to be rich, yet the other entry-level people working for a similar salary were acting like they were starving college students still. It was really odd.

            Unfortunately, I managed to get myself in a bit of trouble... I still managed to pay all of my bills for about a year and a half to two years after losing my salary, but eventually I was crushed by the weight of the debts that I owed... most of those were accrued retardedly from following my dad's advice though... after my parents divorce, they sold off the house, and paid off all of their debts. My mom replaced her car (she had a lot of difficulty with the mustang my dad left her with), but other than that, is debt free... meanwhile, my dad managed to rack up enough debt to fill up to his eyeballs within a very short period...

            I wish my mom had had more of a guiding impact on my life than my dad has... tell you what though, she does now.

      • by antdude (79039)

        It bugs me when poor/broke people buy stuff they don't need like an iPad, new big screen TV, watch movies in theaters, etc. How about saving money for more urgent stuff?

        • by Anrego (830717) * on Thursday April 12, 2012 @03:37PM (#39663459)

          Agreed.

          And credit makes it worse. I get that life sometimes screws you.. your car breaks down, medical bills, etc.. there are sad but valid reasons why a person ends up in debt. Seeing people go into debt buying as you said, shit they don't need, bugs me as well.

          Some people almost need someone regulating their spending. "I know you want that new laptop, but you can't afford it right now. Yes, Jenny bought one, but she makes more money than you do. Don't make that face at me!" Problem is.. the people who should do it if anyone (the government) are the worst example!

        • by drsquare (530038) on Sunday April 15, 2012 @09:11PM (#39696855)

          A TV is a good investment for poor people as it's the cheapest form of entertainment. People need luxuries, if they're to do nothing other than eat, shit and work, then there's no point even being alive.

          At the end of the day, it's the rich who push all this shit via advertisements, and who created the economic system which revolves almost entirely around the consumption of pointless shit, who then turn round and complain about poor people buying the things they've been telling them to buy.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:52AM (#39657837)

      Yeah. It's not like any of us is gonna make much interest on our refund if we get to keep it like we ought to, but the IRS takes money from all those millions of people, and so the federal government does collectively make a fair slice on this yearly float.

      On the one hand, it fries my gizzard emotionally, but when I consider it rationally, it's obvious tax rates would just be that little bit higher to make the same revenue, so it's really more a matter of honestly labelling how much you're shaking me down for than any actual harm.

      • by jeffmeden (135043)

        Yeah. It's not like any of us is gonna make much interest on our refund if we get to keep it like we ought to, but the IRS takes money from all those millions of people, and so the federal government does collectively make a fair slice on this yearly float.

        On the one hand, it fries my gizzard emotionally, but when I consider it rationally, it's obvious tax rates would just be that little bit higher to make the same revenue, so it's really more a matter of honestly labelling how much you're shaking me down for than any actual harm.

        Hah, you mean there would be slightly more red ink (maybe a percent or two) with a hyper-accurate system vs a withholding system that allows for deductions after the government holds on to the money for about 6 months? Sure, and on the other-other-other hand the IRS could just say "you owe exactly 15%" and not allow for any deductions of any kind, so at the end of the year your tax form is just a solemn reminder of exactly how much you earned that the government took (and was probably still not enough to b

    • by Archtech (159117)

      Although, when you take inflation and low interest rates (and tax on the interest) into account, you are probably still losing money.

    • Mind sharing your bank's name? Because based on my research, interest is close to ~0.2% on savings (and that is without insane #s of fees at the bank). Even money markets like ING are very very low right now. So that extra $1000 you save would give you, oh $2.0 in interest over the year.

      So your strategy sounds effectively pointless... unless you really need that $2, in which case my atheist prayers go out to you.

      • by NetDanzr (619387)
        My "bank" is called TD Ameritrade and the interest vehicle is commercial bonds. Still not much extra income - usually between $30 and $40 per year - but enough for a yearly supply of PC games via GOG ;)
    • by alispguru (72689) <bane AT gst DOT com> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @05:34PM (#39665679) Journal

      ... to slightly over-withhold most people. Not because the Government needs the float. Consider the two possible outcomes when people fill out their tax return:

      * You owe additional tax, so you go looking for additional deductions and expenses to reduce it

      * You get a refund, breathe a sigh of relief, and stop looking

      • Corollary to option two: your short attention span impels you to think the government is actually *giving* you free money, because the witholding is automatic and constant, whereas the refund is a rare and thus memorable event.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BorgDrone (64343)

      this is a money that I have at my disposal throughout the year, to accrue interest or capital gains

      i'm not familiar with the situation in the US, but here (.nl) it is a good thing to have the tax service owe you money. No bank pays as much interest as the tax service.

    • by Macgrrl (762836)

      Personally I only got money back because my bonus got over taxed. My husband got money back because he spent several months unemployed. The standard PAYE tax system in Australia doesn't adjust well for a variable income on a week by week basis, but catches up at year end.

    • by slinches (1540051)

      I try to owe as much as possible as well, but unfortunately that has still left me with a small refund the last few years.

      In addition to the "interest free loan" aspect, if you get a refund it has to be claimed as income on the next years taxes. That's right ... they charge you for giving them a free loan! I don't understand how that isn't double taxation.

    • by Cimexus (1355033)

      I do this too. I live in Australia where things are a bit different than you describe...

      1. Interest rates in standard savings accounts in banks are in the 5.5%-6.0% range. So having cash in the bank is actually going to be earning you a decent return compared to in the US.

      2. There's no penalty for not paying your tax throughout the year (though you do have to jump through some withholding tax loopholes), provided you do actually end up paying it all at tax time when it's due. So I actually don't have any ta

    • by Kelbear (870538)

      The $1,000 is one of the "safe-harbor" rules for avoiding penalty, there are a few other ways as well. (Only one of these need to apply for a taxpayer to be safe from penalties). The easiest one to use is probably paying 100% of last year's tax bill through tax withholding. Since most salaried folks will have their income rise slightly each year, they can just adjust withholding to just match their prior year taxbill by year-end, so that they can find themselves owing taxes each year, but never worrying abo

  • by jnaujok (804613) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:38AM (#39657619) Homepage Journal
    Unless you're on the EITC (Tax returns for people who don't pay taxes!) there is no such thing as a "negative" tax bill.

    Any money you get back is money you had already paid in, and gave to the government as an interest-free 12-16 month loan.
    • by Nimey (114278) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:43AM (#39657705) Homepage Journal

      Or, you know, they're not humorless nerds and understand that the poll's about what you get back at filing time.

      • by danomac (1032160)

        I read it as amount of taxes paid period, not the amount paid or refunded at filling. I paid but also received a little back, so I voted incorrectly. Oh well, thanks to Slashdot's polling system I'll be able to vote the other way later today... Or should I vote twice the other way to negate the incorrect selection? Decisions, decisions...

      • Why do we have to be humorless nerds? Some of us do really pay negitive taxes.

        Child care credit $1,200
        Education credits $810
        Retirement savings contribution credit $200
        Residential energy credit $1,309
        Additional child tax credit $2,000
        American opportunity credit $540

        I paid ~3k in withholdings this year but am getting ~5.6k back
        The government is giving me over 2500 dollars for living in this country.... negitive taxes :)

    • Can and do happen is in the UK, and other countries with schemes simimar to the UK's PAYE, where you pay a pre-assessed amount directly from your salary. As it's pre-assessed, and circumstances change, there may be an adjustment, either a bill or a repayment, at the end of the year. For most peoiple this is zero or small. The instance of these "end of year surprises" *should* reduce in the UK from next year, when RTI (Ral Time Information - sort of PAYE on steroids) is intrduced.
    • by StikyPad (445176)

      Plenty of people who qualify for the EITC pay taxes, including people earning up to ~$43k. It *is* a huge marriage penalty though, since only couples making up to ~$49k are eligible. It also discourages investment, since people with capital gains over ~$3k are ineligible.

    • by datastew (529152)
      Not really. The Additional Child Tax Credit also works for those who have lots of children. A person who makes too much for EITC can still get a sizeable gift (1000+ per child) from the Feds depending on his other deductions.
    • Nice to know I am not the only who sees it this way. Granted this time I did get money back (only a couple of hundred between state and federal) but my total tax bill was in the general ballpark of previous years (I am getting better at maximizing deductions). I actually am one of the people who invests my excess income and saves for the future as I would like to have a comfortable retirement and at some point in the not so distant future get a 40 acre plot in the north woods of Minnesota.
    • by Barny (103770)

      Or I am a disabled pensioner who works a bit as well, has less than $10,000 income and gets all their tax back, plus my medical benefits.

      Yes, yes I did understand the question.

    • by kermidge (2221646)

      With no taxable income for last year, I suppose I should have answered zero but I will receive a Homestead tax credit payment - thus I figure that in sum my bill was negative.

      While I understood what you wrote, not everyone is subject to withholding.

    • by Dynedain (141758)

      Even if you overpaid previously, a refund (or "credit") is still a "negative" tax bill.

      Your "tax bill" shows a negative amount owed (a refund).

    • by King_TJ (85913)

      I realize that, but I assume the poll meant "negative" to mean the IRS wasn't asking you for a payment on or before April 15th. thanks to the results of your return.

    • > there is no such thing as a "negative" tax bill.

      Wrong. in the U.S. *most* federal tax credits are non-refundable, but not all. If you don't make a lot of money, but qualify for refundable credits, it's quite possible to have a negative FIT bill.
      I need nothing deducted from my paychecks, because my FIT bill is negative every year. Now if you add in all of the other federal, state, and local taxes I pay, I still pay more than I get, but those are separate "bills".

    • by Artifakt (700173)

      Here's the thing a bunch of people don't want to admit about EITC. The Earned Income Tax Credit is a right wing idea. It's what a bunch of Republicans came up with to do away with conventional welfare. It was sold to the public as "workfare not welfare". It was limited to a maximum of 2 kids per household until President Obama because people on the right worried about the poor outbreeding the wealthy. 30 years ago, the equivalent of Rush and Beck and Coulter were pushing it as all the fix we needed to keep

  • Negative, as usual (Score:5, Insightful)

    by macwhizkid (864124) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @10:40AM (#39657657)

    I know that dread of doing taxes is an American tradition, but at least for me (a single person who rents, has income from only one source, and doesn't own any complicated investments), doing my 1040 takes me two or three hours at most, and a few weeks later I get a deposit in my bank account. Easy money.

    Given that this has happened three years in a row, I should probably get my employer to adjust my withholding, but frankly getting $2000 hard cash is a nice "bonus" every spring, and really, what else would I do with the money if I had it earlier? I'm already fully funding my retirement account. I suppose I could put it in a CD for .05% interest or whatever those are paying these days, but the lump sum is more appealing.

    • by FlopEJoe (784551)
      I'm single, one job, house, and I /do/ have complicated investments, capital gains, etc. And it still takes me about an hour and a half to do federal and state. Tax programs these days remember all my account numbers, names, addresses, and even if I'm still carrying over a loss from last year. And it shows the difference between last year and this year to flag anything out of whack. Well worth the money.

      Also... "negative" by about a grand but that's as close as I can usually get.
    • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportlandNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:47AM (#39658685) Homepage Journal

      two to three hours? Are you kidding me?

      Listen to me very closely. Put that money in a retirement fund. Every moneth. Do so now. If you think I am blowing smoke, look yourself in the mirror and imagine what you will look like when you are 65. That ask if you want that person to be working to scratch out a living? Or enjoying themselves?

      If I had the opportunity to change just ONE thing, it would be to create a retirement fund.

      And use the free tax software online. I was in your situation in the 70's. and even then it only took an hour. And that included going to the post office to get the forms.

  • I work in one state and live in another, so I inevitably wind up paying more in state income taxes.

  • by milbournosphere (1273186) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @11:37AM (#39658495)
    I'd rather withhold a little bit too much and get it back then get a tax bill in the mail. I like to think of it as a small forced-savings program.

    IIRC, my effective tax rate was somewhere between 25-30% (state and fed combined). Hopefully they'll put my dollars to good use and pave some roads or finance something else infrastructure related. I don't mind paying taxes...I just don't want to see them waste the money. It's probably naive to assume they won't waste it away, though.
    • by geekoid (135745)

      waste is really a misnomer. It's used by politicians to create an emotional US v Them state.

      Very little money is wasted. You can find this out for yourself.

      What does happen is the keyhole effect. People get a narrow view of what's going on, don't understand it, and then freak out.

      Far more money is wasted in the private sector.

      I am not saying there is no waste, or that some projects aren't needed. However it's not nearly as bad as certian politician would have you believe.

      You will have waste in any large org

      • by DaveGod (703167)

        I'd assume by "waste" he means most or all undesirable use of taxes.

        Inefficiency in this context does not usually mean everything below absolute efficiency, it's everything below a reasonable target. That said, I don't doubt the gist of your comment that most people have a perception gap as to what the actual efficiency is, or what a reasonable target would be.

        Then there's agency-problem expenditure which goes somewhere on the sliding-scale from that which is spent because it is politically advantageous to

    • by gatkinso (15975)

      Um, your tax bill == the sum of your paycheck deductions - your refund.

      Still sticking with the "negative" answer?

  • Do you mean payment?

    • Do you mean payment?

      I believe that was the intent (which, judging by the conversation, is not as obvious as I thought it was), i.e. did you owe, break even, or get a refund?

  • by Rob the Bold (788862) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:04PM (#39660143)

    But not a nasty surprise from the government as much as from my wife's new employer.

    She's starting a new job this year and got a signing bonus. But they claimed payment in 2011, even though we didn't get check until January 2012. OK, I knew we'd have a tax liability, since they probably wouldn't be doing the withholding, but I didn't expect them to report it on a 1099-MISC. So we get hit with self-employment tax, too. That would be all well and good if she were really self-employed, since we could certainly find plenty of Schedule C deductions to offset much of the tax. But she's not, and the IRS wouldn't fall for that it we did.

    So we've got to file a request for determination of employment status form. And although we might be able to not pay the SETA part when we file, I'm not sure I want to bet the farm on the IRS ruling the we we think they will, so I'll have to wait and see, then file another "taxes not properly withheld" form and amend the tax return later to get some money back. And it's probably not gonna make the new job that happy to get a bill for unpaid FICA, etc., either. But it's not my fault they wanted to save a few bucks by cheating the system.

  • by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday April 12, 2012 @01:25PM (#39660595) Homepage

    My tax bill was not enough. It should have been higher.

    You know how I know that? Because we have a dangerous debt and deficit, and taxes aren't a significant burden for me financially. When the debt and deficit are where they are, we should be making sacrifices to cut them. We should be sacrificing social programs, research programs, foreign adventurism, and the standing military -- and taxable units should be making personal sacrifices by paying higher taxes.

    Until the budget is out of the danger zone, we should do all of those things, and repeat until we are back in the safe zone.

    We have bills to pay. I don't have to like it if we decide to take the money from people in my bracket. I don't have to be happy about what programs we choose to cut. But I have to pay my bills.

    • You do realize that if you feel you should pay more you can voluntarily contribute to help pay down the debt [pay.gov]. As an added bonus the amount you contribute is even tax deductible. Although given the the current values that have been contributed [treasurydirect.gov] it seems lots of the people demanding that we need to pay more aren't. As usual the government plays games with the money [boston.com] so they can claim to be in compliance with the law, but still if you feel you aren't paying enough feel free ton contribute [treasurydirect.gov].
      • You also realize that all those Tea Partiers who feel the government spends too much on various social services are free to voluntarily not take any Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment, tuition grants, assistance with their mortgages, disability assistance, etc, but from studies those complaining about it seem to be taking more of it than the rest of the general population. Neither of these arguments for self-penalization will solve the deficit because most aren't willing to unlevel the playi
        • Yes I do actually. I do feel it is rather disingenuous for either side to complain about not paying enough and then to not voluntarily contribute more or to complain about spending too much while being on the dole.
          • by guises (2423402)
            The point is that government funded services are shared by everyone. If a group could opt out of certain services it would negate the collective nature of government and it's function. Honestly, I'm surprised that this voluntary taxation option exists - it negates the collective aspect of government in the opposite direction. I wouldn't begrudge a tea-partier who needs assistance, but I likewise wouldn't expect a generous person to contribute extra to pay down the debt. That's just exploitative.
  • I'm retired, now, and was unemployed for several years. Not only is my anual tax bill zero, it's been years since I've even needed to file.
    • by rwade (131726)

      How do you have no income? I thought that even those receiving social security retirement checks were required to file a 1040...

      • I took early Social Security at 62 because reduced benefits are better than no income at all. That means that my annual income is low enough that I don't have to pay any income tax and, as there's also no withholding, I'm not required to file.
  • Only the little people pay taxes, you insensitive clod!
  • Sales tax. ??? Poorly worded question if you wanted to know tax return status. The only "bill" I get for taxes is the property tax bill. Even if I get a return of money from the state and IRS, my total tax liability is positive. i.e., over-paying != negative taxes paid.

  • Due to the magic of itemized deductions and my first full year of mortgage interest, my federal taxable income percentage was almost as low as Mitt Romney's. Of course, I'm sure he has holdings elsewhere that he doesn't have to report in the USA, so his actual bill as a percentage is probably a lot lower than what he reported to the IRS. Just speculation on my part, of course. On paper, we were fairly close.

Never say you know a man until you have divided an inheritance with him.

 



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