Suppose you were having trouble making your mortgage payments. Your car is old, has 235,000 miles on it and needs an engine overhaul and you can’t even afford to take it to the car wash. And your wife has just told you of an unexpected surprise that will be arriving at your house in a few months.
And then you get a call from the state treasurer’s office. The unclaimed property folks have opened a forgotten safe deposit box abandoned by your late uncle Gregor and have found he had squirrelled away one million dollars in little gold bars and you are the only heir.
But you say, “I don’t want it. It might help me today but I want a million dollars every year and Uncle Gregor isn’t going to give me that. In fact, if he was alive today I’d find a way to get him thrown in jail for not giving me some of that money every year before now.”
“I’d rather be miserable and complain about it. I’d rather eliminate the hamburger and just eat the Hamburger Helper because I don’t want any more money than I get now. I’ll spend a dollar-39 on a can of Engine Gook at the discount store instead of getting the overhaul so I can pay the mortgage. And I can turn my old Boy Scout tent into a nursery.”
How about picking up a few extra dollars by delivering prescriptions for the pharmacy down the street for a couple of hours on Saturdays? “No. Not interested. That might require me to make a slight change in my lifestyle. And besides, it might put me in a higher tax bracket.”
“Don’t bother me. Let me suffer. I like to suffer. And complain about it. I don’t care that the neighbors point at us as the poorest family on the block and wonder why we don’t want to be better.”
State government has an Uncle Gregor. Uncle Gregor has not paid his taxes for several years. But he would if he didn’t have to pay interest and penalties. The House of Representatives figures a lot of Uncle Gregors would pay $70 million in back taxes if the legislature promised not to pay millions more in penalties.
But some Senators say they don’t want Uncle Gregor’s money because it would only be a one-time payment. Furthermore, Uncle Gregor should be punished for not making payments from year to year. So he can keep his $70 million.
Better to short-fund elementary and secondary education for a fourth year in a row than to invited Uncle Gregor to get on the right side of the revenue department god.
A University of Missouri study says Missouri is missing out on an estimated $468 million in taxes because it won’t take steps to collect taxes on internet sales. Some argue that requiring people to pay taxes they should be paying anyway is a tax increase. So forget about the equivalent of being a part-time delivery person for the local pharmacy.
Five members of the House and five members of the Senate will be working for the next few days on how to get by without help from Uncle Gregor and without taking a part-time job to improve the family’s financial situation. They have until May 11.