2.16.2014

My Accountant - Tax Slayer

I did my taxes today. It took under an hour.

Well, to be precise, my awesome accountant did my taxes today, as looked on with contentment and glee for an hour.

The contentment is because I do not have to wade through any tax forms or sort any receipts (though I do save them). This is followed a few days later by glee when she tells me the size of my refund, after efiling income tax for me.

You see, she always gets me tons of money back in the form of a refund. She has mad knowledge and skills.

She is like aspirin for my tax season headaches, which are a thing of the past. She has completely cured them and I will never go back to doing taxes myself.

She is better than H and R Block because she gives me personalized tax care. The big corporate tax preparers don't really give a crap about you; they just want your money. So they aren't as thorough and they don't communicate the little nuances to help you do a better job of getting the maximum deductions and subsequent refund.

What I pay my accountant to do my taxes is more than compensated for by all the money she finds for me, almost as if by magic. She really knows her crap. I don't.

I have used Turbo Tax before, but even with that I would miss deductions I did not know I could take and there are all kinds of subtleties to do with IRAs and stocks dividends.
Side Note: My theory that beer always pays dividends in good times (celebration) and bad (drowning sorrows) has proved remarkably lucrative...my Sam Adams beer stock is through the roof.
But even if the tax fee I pay my accountant did not pay for itself in cash, the peace of mind is priceless. I would pay the fee even if it didn't get me any extra money back because of the happiness value.

Remember, there is a big difference between money and value. We exchange money to get value. If the emotional value exceeds the cash value of the money we paid for it, we win. Money is a proxy for value but money does not equal value.

Value is an emotional satisfaction. Something is valuable if it is useful or brings some kind of happiness or well being to an individual or a group.

Money is simply a concrete currency that is exchanged for a perceived or expected value.

When you buy a product or service, you feel you need that thing and will get value from it. You try to get a BEST VALUE by paying the lowest possible amount of money for that thing, all else held equal. So the monetary price of a thing can fluctuate, even if the value is more or less the same.

Similarly, value can fluctuate too. Sometimes you "get what you pay for," when the lowest priced item fails to deliver the expected value. For example, I bought some knockoff printer cartridges for my Epson printer that were half the price of the Epson brand name ones. They aren't horrible. They get the job done. But the print quality is noticeably inferior to the brand names cartridges, which I have purchased in the past. If I valued print quality more than I do, I would probably have bought the Epson cartridges. However, these were just for my home printer, where I rarely print anything important. If I need to print something important, I do it at work.

There is also the case where you pay too much for something and do not get commensurate value, such as designer clothing, which more often than not is made cheaply in third world countries and is of poor quality. The value there comes from peer approval that you have the designer name brand clothing, not from the clothing itself. So you see? Value and money are not the same at all. They can be quite divergent.

A lot of politicians and rich people mistake money for value, especially when it comes to paying for things that add value to society (the group) such as infrastructure (roads, schools, hospitals, and the like) or social welfare (keeping the most vulnerable among us at a basic level of human decency). A lot of this is because people are uninformed about what their tax dollars pay for or they do not see the value received from it. This is exemplified when people say things like, "I don't have any kids in school, so why should I pay for schools?" They haven't figured out that society as a whole gets value from an educated and informed populace. Another favorite of mine is, "I shouldn't have to pay for someone else's medical bills." This one is pure ignorance, because they already are paying the medical bills of the uninsured. No one can be denied needed health care. That would be criminal and unethical. The way hospitals and doctors compensate for the people who cannot pay their medical bills is to raise the fees of the people who can pay. In turn, the insurance companies raise their premiums. This is why health care costs in America are exploding far faster than the rate of inflation. On top of that, the uninsured typically avoid getting health care until they are very sick. They end up in much more expensive emergency rooms, which kicks the medical bills exorbitantly higher. If you have health insurance you should want to make sure everyone has health insurance. The more people paying into it, the cheaper it is for everyone. But whatever, I am not here to change any minds. Just making a point about money and value and how ignorance can make people unaware of value.

To be sure, a lot of tax dollars are wasted on things that do not bring value (war and the inflated paychecks of politicians, not to mention campaign financing). But the general public is complicit in this, because they don't try to do anything about it, largely due to ignorance...which illustrates why it is so important to invest in schools for an educated and informed society. Don't be fooled. The politicians know this full well and they want an ill-informed populace they can manipulate with negative messages. That's why it is so hard to budget money for schools and so easy to budget it for war. Similarly, people without a social safety net are too desperate to be thinking about politics. They want to know where their next meal is coming from, not how their kids' school is going to pay for textbooks.

I have rambled long enough.

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