When I was a kid in the ‘70s, I used to sit on the couch with my sisters and watch The Price Is Right. Bob Barker was the host. The ultimate prize in The Price is Right was the Double Showcase. If you won the Double Showcase, you didn’t win a car, some appliances, and a fabulous vacation in a showcase, but BOTH showcases.
Winning the Double Showcase did not happen often. It took an extraordinary amount of luck and skill at guessing grocery prices.
My sisters and I loved to play along and cheer for the contestants. Looking back, I am amused at how we had no clue what things cost. (Thankfully we were not responsible for buying our own groceries then.) But that didn’t stop us from guessing out loud to see how close we could get.
When I was about 9, two things happened in my financial life: I made my first budget, then someone taught me about taxes. I thought taxes were the most criminal thing I had ever heard of. People work hard for their money and then they are required to give part of it to the government? I was incensed. Why couldn’t taxes be voluntary? Like the offering plate at church?
Not long afterward, my younger sister Laura and I were watching the show. A lady won the Double Showcase. We flew out of our seats and started jumping on the couch (despite my mother’s repeated scoldings not to jump on the couch, because this was a special occasion, you know, winning the Double Showcase). “She won the Double Showcase! She won the Double Showcase!” We were ecstatic at her incredible good fortune.
And then I remembered my new lesson about taxes. I plopped back down and stared at the TV.
“What’s wrong?” Laura asked, “She won the Double Showcase.”
“Yeah, but do you know what she has to pay in TAXES?”
My sister, who would have been about 7, looked puzzled. “What?”
“She has to give some of her money to the government.”
Laura didn’t seem quite as bothered as me about taxes, but she was bothered that I was raining on the parade. I killed the Double Showcase buzz.
I’ve understood for a long time now that a voluntary tax system probably wouldn’t work very well (although I’d certainly love to try it). But I still get fired up, maybe a little too much, about all the ways we can save on taxes. Hopefully my enthusiasm doesn’t rain on anyone’s parade.
June is not too soon to consult with someone on ways to maximize your deductions this year. Make an appointment with your CPA, or schedule a call with us to talk more.