It's twilight camp time again, and I've had the pleasure of spending the last week with some pretty fun nine-year olds.
But first, a rewind. When we were young, we would sometimes get Oreos for dessert after dinner. We each got four. My father took one. He explained that it was tax, that we had to give away our cookie to the government of the house. He claimed it was a life lesson. I think he just wanted a cookie, but I digress.
So on the first night, as I watched a boy ask his dad to open his cookies and all the cookies were returned to him, I told the boys about how my dad would take tax. After getting over what a horrible and deprived childhood I must have led, they became fascinated. Now, each day, over dinner, I'm asked question after question about taxes. They have no idea that I'm the world's least qualified person for the job, but I do my best.
"What if the government takes more than you earn?" They won't, they always take a portion. But the more you earn, the more they take. If you got ten cookies, they might take three.
"What if you don't pay your taxes?" You don't want to do that. You don't mess with the tax man.
"What if you can't pay your taxes?" You always can, sometimes people choose to spend it on something different, but the government doesn't take more than you have, unless you chose to spend it on video games, or you chose to eat all your cookies before the tax man can find you. Regardless, it's a very bad idea.
"What if you only have enough to pay your electric bill or your taxes, but not both?" Umm. We'll talk about budgeting tomorrow, 'kay?
So, when the boys are asked what they learned at cub scout camp, I'm a little concerned that they won't say that they learned how to shoot a bow and arrow, or they learned about poisonous snakes or that they made a soap box derby car or a leather pouch.
Instead, it might be, "I learned about the Weird American Tax System."
Um, I hope I'm invited back next year. Thanks, Dad.