This weekend has been much of a blur. I worked some seriously ridiculous hours in two days and they weren’t those easy 9-5pm hours. They were graveyard shifts; two back-to-back and that plays hell on my body. I got home Monday morning after putting in an 9 hour day and literally crashed. I woke up Monday afternoon, groggy and still tired and I dinked around on the internet before I finally got a shower and something to eat and then that late afternoon sleepiness got to me again and before I knew it, I was crawling back into bed.
I finally was able to pull myself together, get some decent clothing on, paid my rent and checked the mail. To my surprise, I had a thick envelope from the IRS. As soon as I saw it was from them, I instantly cursed aloud. Nothing from the IRS is ever good. I got back to my apartment unit, cracked open all my mail (saving the IRS letter for last) and found out I actually saved a bunch of money on my motorcycle insurance by switching to Progressive. Thanks, Flo!
I hesitantly opened the IRS envelope and saw in large, bold print: Amount due: $3,357. I simply shook my head.
It turns out in 2011, I didn’t pay enough taxes. When I filed, I was supposed to add in my state unemployment numbers because unemployment is a form of income. Not only did I allow the state of Illinois to tax me at 10% instead of 3%, I didn’t see an opportunity to pay federal taxes on unemployment wages. If it were there, it either got missed (probably because I’m not a tax guru) or the unemployment office didn’t cover that.
2011 was a tough year for me. Not only was I living in my car, but jobs were scare and the hours at my current job (Sears, Loss Prevention) were like, little to nothing because Sears was into this whole cost-cutting trend. The pay sucked, finding another job to go along with another part-time job was literally impossible but somehow I made it work and I generally put in 50-60 hours a week, Anyway, I’m not writing this to whine about the past. Things have improved for the most part.
I decided to pay the IRS to shut them up. Or more importantly, do my part as an American and pay my fucking fair share of taxes, right? Since so many of our top executives at large corporations, oil companies and large banks don’t really think paying taxes is all that fun and something that’s important, I figured my measly $3,357 will help contribute. I’m also sending them a letter with my check and it goes a little something like this:
April 14th 2000, I wrote the United States of America a blank check when I joined the United States Army. I served ten great years for my country and I also served one combat tour in Iraq from 2005-2006. After I was honorably discharged from service, I started a new chapter in my life amongst the civilians of this country. I filed for disability/compensation with the VA and they deemed me 90% disabled through 24 months of a long deliberation process. I finally started receiving the benefits I served this great nation for.
When I got out of the service, life wasn’t easy. I applied for unemployment within the first year of being out because jobs were tough to come by and I couldn’t get anything that paid better than $10/hr. During the last three years of my life outside of the Army, I worked mostly two jobs trying to make ends meet (thank goodness I don’t have a family to support). Both jobs combined, I barely made over $20,000 a year. In the meantime, I was living out of my car and trying to improvise ways to make sure I got my showers (utilized a local gym) and on my days off from work (which didn’t come often) I would move into a Hotel 6 or another cheap outfit just so I could sleep in a bed and stretch out a bit for a day or two (living in a car started to get a little cramped).
Eventually, I was able to obtain a better paying job by continuing to fight for myself and what I believed to be a better life would eventually come along the way for me if I kept my work ethic to the grind stone. With my Army benefits and my new higher paying job, I no longer have to live in my car. I live in an apartment complex with a community of people who are probably in the same situation as me; just trying to survive. Now I have a new fight on my hands; trying to have a future for myself.
I’m not writing you today complaining that life sucks; it is what it is. The whole point of this letter is to inform whoever that America is struggling. Well, at least the majority of us. Thank goodness I’m good with my money and I’m not one of those typical, full-blooded Americans divulged in consumerism. The other point I’m trying to make is; you’re taxing the wrong person/people. You want to send me a bill for $3,357 after a year where I made a whole whopping $18,000 claiming I didn’t pay enough taxes? A year where I, an American Combat Veteran, was living out of his car making barely over minimum wage? A year where I had to utilize the local gym (which was $19 a month) to take a shower once a day and put in a 65-70 hour work week for what, $18,000 a year? You’re asking me to pay more taxes? Remember that blank check I wrote for the United States of America back in April of 2000? I guess you can just put this on my tab, right?
Let’s take a closer look at who is paying taxes in this country. Me, that’s obvious, because the IRS is sending me a bill for $3,357 in the mail. Maybe we should look a little closer at who isn’t paying taxes in this country. I suppose I could give you a laundry list of large corporations and names of CEO’s, CFO’s. Presidents and VP’s of companies that pay less tax percentages than I currently do. I currently pay 22% when I work straight time at work and it goes up to 60% when I clock overtime hours. Mitt Romney pays as little as 13% on capital gains on his investments.
You have a job to do and I’m not against paying taxes. If I’m wrong, I’m wrong. If I didn’t pay what I was supposed to pay, hold me accountable. You’ll find along with this letter a check for $3,357 and not a penny more (Mitt Romney quote). I hope you spend this money wisely. My time on this planet is very valuable and I don’t work for free.
Wayne Anthony Peck
United States Army Combat Veteran”