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Been Naughty or Nice? The Taxman Knows

2 min readBy: Scott Hodge

Tomorrow night, millions of children will go to bed with visions of sugar plums and lots of toys dancing in their heads. Parents around the world have taught their children that jolly old Saint Nick has been watching them to see if they’ve been naughty or nice. If they were nice, their stocking will be full of presents. If they were naughty, Santa will leave a lump of coal.

It occurs to us that politicians have been using the taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. code to train us in a similar manner. If we’re nice, we get a tax creditA tax credit is a provision that reduces a taxpayer’s final tax bill, dollar-for-dollar. A tax credit differs from deductions and exemptions, which reduce taxable income, rather than the taxpayer’s tax bill directly. . If we’re naughty, we pay a tax.

If we’ve been nice, here are just a few ways they reward us if we’ve been nice:

  • Spend $71,000 on a Tesla? – get a $7,500 “alternative vehicle” tax credit.
  • Buy a home? – deduct the interest.
  • Gave money to charity? – get a charitable deduction.
  • Have a child? – get a $1,000 per-child credit.
  • Adopted a child? – get a $5,000 adoption credit.
  • Put your child in daycare? – get the Dependent Care Tax Credit.
  • Go to college? – get an American Opportunity Credit.
  • Have student loans up to your eyeballs? – deduct the interest.
  • Put up a windmill? – get the windmill and alternative fuels credit.
  • Changed the windows in your home? – get a home improvement credit.
  • Bought school supplies? – get a teachers credit.
  • Put money aside for retirement? – get a deduction.

And here are a few ways politicians punish us if we’ve been naughty:

  • Tried to avoid Obamacare? – pay a tax of at least $95.
  • Got a tan? – pay Obamacare’s 10% tanning tax.
  • Bought groceries for Christmas dinner? – pay a 5-cent bag tax in Washington, DC.
  • Bought a sports car? – pay a federal gas guzzler tax.
  • Toast the New Year? – pay beer, wine or alcohol taxes.
  • Light up? – pay a tobacco tax.
  • Thirsty? – pay a Big Gulp tax.
  • Earn $500,001? – pay a “millionaire” tax in Maryland.
  • Got the munchies? – pay a snack tax.
  • Out for a nice time at a strip club? – pay a $5 “pole” tax in Texas.
  • Withdraw from your retirement savings too early? – pay a tax.
  • Died? — pay the Death Tax.

It sure would be nice to go through life without having the tax man looking over our shoulders.