The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Tax Time

Posted on | February 24, 2011 | 4 Comments

Please excuse the relative shortage of blogging this afternoon, because I’ll be at the accountant’s office, going through my annual ordeal. If there’s one thing a self-employed freelance journalist/blogger dreads, it’s tax time.

Back in the old days, when I had a regular job with a salary, my taxes were simple enough that I could do it myself. But now I have to collect up records of my various sources of income and (the really hard part) my expenses. Keeping track of my expenses is especially tricky, in that I did so much travel in 2010. In order to help me match receipts with trips, I compiled this list of my 2010 travels:

California (BCS Championship, Altadena Tea Party) Jan. 5-11
Boston (Massachusetts Senate special election) Jan. 14-21
Washington, DC (Brown campaign victory event) Jan. 28

Alabama (Rick Barber, Tim James campaigns) Feb. 4-9
Washington, DC (CPAC) Feb. 18-21

Washington, DC (Premiere, “Generation Zero”) March 16
Vegas/Searchlight/Phoenix (Tea Party, Hayworth, Parker) March 25-31

New Orleans/Huntsville (SRLC/Les Phillip campaign) April 7-13
Washington, DC (Tax Day Tea Party) April 15
Johnstown, PA (Tim Burns, PA-12 election) April 28
Washington. PA (Tim Burns, PA-12 election) April 30-May 1

Washington, DC (American Spectator office) May 2
Washington DC (Interview Liz Carter, GA-12) May 11-12
Washington, PA (Tim Burns, PA-12 election) May 18-19 (430 mi.)

Las Vegas (Right Online Conference) July 22-July 26

Washington, DC (YAF/First Friday) Aug. 6-7
Los Angeles (Mattie Fein CA-36 campaign, Ladd Ehlinger) Aug. 13-19
Anchorage/Wasilla, AK (Joe Miller Senate campaign, Palin) Aug. 30-Sept. 4

Washington, DC (Blog Con/Tea Party rally) Sept. 10-12
Dover, DE (Christine O’Donnell, Senate campaign) Sept. 14-15
Washington, DC (Charles Lollar, MD-4 campaign) Sept. 24

Boston, New York, Pennsylvania (Congress campaigns) Oct. 9-19
Virginia, Georgia, Florida (Congress campaigns) Oct. 28-Nov. 6

Washington, DC (American Spectator gala) Nov. 9

Of course, that’s not a complete list of my travels. I’m certain I made a heck of a lot more trips to D.C. (about 150 miles round-trip from my home in the Maryland hills), but these were the trips I was able to document scanning the blog archives to determine the departure and return dates of the longer trips. Generally speaking, however, I consider it better to low-ball my expenses rather than try to get every penny. If the IRS ever decides to audit me, I hope a complete examination of the record will show that they actually owe me money, rather than the other way around.

Anyone who owns a small business or does contract work can relate to the special woes the IRS imposes on independent entrepreneurs. All the keeping track of receipts, paperwork hassles, etc. The vast majority of Americans, of course, can’t relate to this. They’re like I used to be: Wait for your W-2 to come in the mail and file. So when they hear businessmen complaining about the IRS, they don’t get it: “What’s the big deal?” 

The record-keeping burden involved in working as a contractor or small business owner is, of course, a disincentive to entrepreneurship. People who have regular jobs may think to themselves, “Hey, I bet I could make some extra money selling my skills on the open market, as a contractor or consultant.” But then they think, “Wait, no, because then I’d have to do all that paperwork and record-keeping and maybe have to deal with bureaucratic licensing procedures.”

And so instead they keep slaving away for a salary. The IRS is part of what chains them to their jobs.

Such are the thoughts that cross my mind when I have to deal with this tax-time crap. But there are good thoughts, too. I remember arriving in the Boston train station Jan. 14 last year and meeting Da Tech Guy for the first time. I remember that wild day at Searchlight, Nev., the two nights I crashed on Barbara Espinosa’s sofa in Arizona, all those congressional campaigns in October.

Good times. Good times, my friends.

And, yeah, I had to print out the record of all those tip-jar contributions that helped pay for these trips. You guys are the best blog-readers in the world.


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