I’m serious about that title.  The SuperHusband has been doing some SuperConsulting, which, like the many odd income streams that have come our way over the years, is not so much about an increase in income, as it is about an increase in tax forms. 

Let’s clarify right now: the IRS does not create tax law.  Congress does that.   The IRS just enforces the law, and bless them, they are really doing a nice job of "simplifying" the process of compliance via their website.  What a pleasure for this accountant, to be able to settle down with a cup of coffee in my cozy home office, nursling in arms, to educate myself on our latest foray into the world of big forms for small numbers.  Ahh. 

Seriously, the web-surfing method is much, much better than dragging small children to the federal building, which was how this process worked in the old days.  The calculator, the spreadsheet, the Internet.  Each in turn has been a tremendous leap in productivity for accountants.

That said, I’ve started reading Off the Books, a look at the underground economy in Chicago’s Southside.  And among my many thoughts is that small-time entrepreneurs would be much more likely to report income if there were a simpler method for low-dollar income streams.  I know the EZ forms are meant to do that, but they deal only with simple situations. 

If your situation is complex, even if the dollars are low, you have to wade into forms and publications only an accountant could love, if you wish to comply with the law.    One of the characteristics of the underground economy is many small, diverse income streams — a few dollars for babysitting, a few dollars for renting a room out, a few dollars for making homemade meals, a few dollars for shade-tree mechanic work, etc.  All of it can add up to a meager living — enough to get by on, not enough to afford accountant’s fees to get the reporting straight. 

Meanwhile,  most of the details of the tax law are designed to catch major loophole-abusers. It seems to me that when revenues are low enough that you *know* the taxes on the net income aren’t going to amount to much, why not go with a simplified set of regulations?   

I guess I’m thinking of sort of a middle ground, where your 1040 would include spaces to report income from small businesses, small amounts of stock bought or sold, small amounts of rental income, small amounts of farm income, etc., but with a thought that if someone depreciates at the wrong rate, or allocates too much of the power bill, or what have you, it’s probably going to be immaterial.  Better that they report the income and be legal, then tempt them into non-reporting because the prospect of even getting informed about the law is so daunting.

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In other news: 

  • Gingerbread structures this afternoon.  We did this two years ago, did not last year (morning sickness), and are at it again.  I used the recipe in The Joy of Cooking and it turned out well.
  • Not looking good for the caroling party.  So far the only people who have RSVP’d "yes" are my in-laws, whose job is to stay at the house and take care of stragglers.  (Mother-in-law sings for a house or two, but isn’t up to a full hour of door-to-door. )  If we don’t get the critical mass — about six strong voices are needed, or 10-12 so-so ones — we’ll just carol to ourselves, I think. 
  • The SuperHusband built us a new computer!  ("Once you know, you Newegg")  My idea of "setting up the computer" is to go hunt for interesting wallpaper images.  In the process I stumbled across "Bishop Nicolas Loses His Cool".  Tells you what kind of catholic I am — I like that story.  I also figured out I’d make a lousy Orthodox person, since I seem to have a strong preference for cute icons, like this one.  Somehow I don’t think icon-as-interior-decoration is what it’s supposed to be all about.  Oops.

Not sure what blogging will be like over the holidays.  We’ll be here, the uncertainty is in how much computer time I’ll be getting.  Just in case, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

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