Friday, June 20, 2008

Tax Time

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.


Green Tractor said...

Who knew that Oreo cookies could be such a life lesson?

I give you each four cookies, I take one back (tax) and I end up with three cookies and each of you also have three. So much more fun than just handing out three to everyone.

The only down-side is that you thought that the tax rate was only 25% - I wish!

AZ Sister said...

What I think is funny is that I don't that it happened all that often, but it sure left a HUGE impression on all three of us! I know that it's a story that all of our kids have heard, or, in the case of "Snail", will hear.

And, oddly enough, when I do my taxes, it always helps to have an Oreo by my side!

Thanks, Dad!

ca sister said...

And, I've never looked at Oreos since childhood and thought of taxes.

I think it made such a big impression because he ACTUALLY ATE THE COOKIES! There were nights when we each only got three. Following through really does work (note to self...).

Maybe there's a reason I never became an accountant...

Love you, green.tractor!