In the Tax Theft series, we've previously discussed the way that business deductions are designed to extra additional resources from hosts for transfer to parasites. Today we'll look more closely at the naked emperor with regards to vehicle deductions.
Angel (pronounced "on-hell") is a construction worker employed full-time by United Prison Services, an approved and respectable government subcontractor often hired to construct state prisons, regional government offices, and municipal schools in Citrus Grove County, Out West. Because almost all his work is performed at job sites, and because he's often required to haul loads of materials between sites and storage, an unspoken requirement of Angel's job is that he come to work in his own vehicle, which possesses at least 7 inches of ground clearance, decent tires, and a mostly-empty truck bed.
(For insurance purposes, Angel is also required to wear steel-toed boots, jeans without any visible wear, sunglasses rated ST-4 on the Crappe-Johnson jobsite breakability scale [the "CJ," to those in the trade], and an orange or yellow jacket with reflective materials on at least 30% of the surface. The vehicular topics addressed here apply almost identically to the issue of apparel deductibility.)
Accordingly, every few years, Angel buys a newer used truck. He makes about $45K a year, purchases his mandatory health insurance through a disguised out-of-pocket scheme rigged through direct employer deductions transferred bi-weekly to an ACA-approved agency, and pays Social Security, Medicare, and other state, local, and federal payroll deductions off of what's left from each check. During a good year, he files his taxes and gets an incredibly amazing $700 refund, which lets him stay a little on top of things. He's able to pay his rent, keep up the minimum payments due on the credit card balance from the last time his son had a molar cavity, and refinance his truck at a better interest rate, improving his credit and pre-qualifying him for financing on a newer truck in a couple years.
One year, Angel hears some amazing, world-shattering news: a friend in the accounting department at U.P.S. has told him that there is such a thing as a business deduction, and that if you claim a business deduction on something you had to buy for business, you can take it off your income. Angel can barely sleep that night, as he calculates the figures. He's supposed to get a $644 refund this April, but last year, he paid $23,500 for his truck. If he got to deduct that $23,500 from his income, it would drop him so low on paper that it would be like no income, below the poverty level, and he wouldn't have to pay any taxes.* His refund would be unbelievable!!!
(* At least, so he thinks. He'd still have to pay the bulk of the taxes actually paid by a citizen in his situation, including the various payroll taxes, property taxes funneled through local rental rates, sales taxes, and vehicle registration fees. But in his mind, he'd pay zero, because he'd pay zero in standard income taxes, which would still be quite a boon for him.)
Angel isn't some cheat. He happens to be the New World kind of Catholic, who actually believes in all the shit about honesty. The family never wants to ride in his dirty truck, which usually has old clothes and tools in it, and maybe someone's old lunch stuck behind the seats. Whenever they drive anywhere for personal reasons, they use his wife's car--an old Honda CRV with 200K+ miles on it, which still runs great. Calculating from the odometer reading when he purchased the truck, and the distance to his job sites over the years, Angel is able to prove that he didn't even drive the truck a single mile for personal reasons. It's definitely a business deduction! Oh my God, dude, I'm gonna get, like, a seven grand refund! Drinks are on me, essay!
For the next few weeks, Angel is walking on air. He's got plans for that money. The credit card balance could be gone. No more minimum payments. And after that, he's gonna open a savings account. A real one--one that has more than the minimum $100 in it. One that could become, I dunno, yo, money for college, you know, maybe something for me and my esposa, cuando envejeciendo y no lo puedo trabajar ya...and if he could do that, his credit would look even better; he could maybe think about getting a house on one of those rent to own things...holy shit essay, if I could do that every time I get a new truck, man, that's like, ahh, thousands!
Life looks rosy. And, for the first time ever, it looks almost reliable.
Angel goes back to his friend in accounting to talk about, you know, helping him out with this shit, like, Turbotax, whatever. His friend, who's sort of an in-house assistant to the accounting firm that works with U.P.S., tells him more about this thing. Apparently, it's the coolest deduction ever. Every year, United Prison Services uses it to deduct millions off its corporate ledger. Yeah, all those big pieces of equipment out there, those are just business deductions. When you think about it, they're just the same as Angel's truck--a tool purchased 100% for business!
You see those big orange ones out there, the S&R ones? Oh--yeah, holmes, 'shipping and receiving.' Yeah, those are, like, eighty grand each. No shit, man. Statewide, we's replacin' like ten, eleven a year. Adds up, dog. Adds up.
Turbotax won't let Angel put the thing in, so he gets some forms from the library and does his taxes himself. His refund drags, man. Everyone else has it in a week, but the phone system tells Angel it can take a while, so he just keeps working, excitement brimming almost over the top. A month later, an ominous envelope appears in the mail. Two weeks later, he has to miss work to be home while an audit team digs through his apartment and truck. A week after that, at an office downtown, Angel gets a lecture from a stern old Hispanic assistant to an aloof old white director of someshit. They tell him he can't deduct his personal vehicle.
But I drive it to work, man! Every day! I got the, the mileage charts!
Sorry. Mileage to or from work doesn't count.
But it says, it says in the law, I can! At U.P.S., they deduct the whole thing! Like, a million dollars a year! That's not fair!
"I'll handle this," says the aloof white guy, stepping in. He fixes Angel with a level look. "Of course it's not fair. We specifically designed the vehicle deduction to allow the full market value deduction to businesses like U.P.S., FedCon, and other shipping and hospitality services. They wanted to make sure that the vehicles they use are 100% deductible in the first year, while the vehicles that you low-income nobodies use are purchased only with post-tax dollars. There are even little qualifications we added specifically to the code to provide exemptions for family sedans, vans, and trucks used by powerful businesses, so that they can deduct the exact same truck that you can't, even if their executives can borrow the truck for a house move, while you can track every single quarter mile of business use without getting the privilege that they already have.
"Fuck you, peon. Fuck you. We designed the Code exactly to make you pay their share. You're a worthless little piece of taxpayer scum. You think we care that you know? We don't give a shit. We wrote it out in the open, in public, taking contributions from the people who wanted it written that way, and then designing the law to make you pay for the shortfall caused by letting them deduct the heated marble seats on the toilets they shit on in U.P.S.' New York offices. You think we're afraid of you? We're not. You're a nothing; a nobody. We lie to your face, cheat your family out of money, and laugh about it. There's a clear money trail between our bosses and their donors, everything we do is starkly unfair, and I don't mind rubbing it in your face because you've got nothing and if you don't write me a check immediately to cover the penalties, I'll have you ass-raped in County and take away your vote and your job and your kid and your wife. And your 'truck,' too. Wouldn't that be poetic? Ha.
"Now open your checkbook. Write the check. 'United States Treasury.' That's right. Don't fucking cry on it, peon. Don't make the ink run.
"That's better. You just bought 1/700th of a drone. Now get the fuck out of my office. Tell all your loser friends about me. I don't care if the whole world knows what we did here. The Code and all the Regulations have been online for years. We take your tax money and use it to subsidize schools that teach people exactly how unfair this is, and you still don't do nothin' because you got nothin'. I shit on your kind and you take it because you have to take it. Fucking livestock. You all got no heart and you know it. I see your face again and your O-ring's gettin' stretched in County. Get lost."