Two thousand four was my first full year as a single homeowner — we did own a house back when I was married, but that was years ago — which meant that my tax returns for that year would be the first in some time in which I would be able to itemize deductions, a major boon to the wallet, partly because the deductions I would be allowed were a smidgen in excess of the Federal standard deduction, but mostly because the Oklahoma tax code back then limited the standard deduction for 511EZ short-formers to a meager $2,000. While my Federal taxes dropped a little, my state taxes dropped a lot.

The need to document all these deductions led to an unexpected, but explainable, discovery: while October is one-twelfth of the year, it accounts for more than a third of my annual charitable contributions. The explanation is simple enough: October is pledge month for the two public-radio stations to which I contribute; it's also the month of the Blogger Boobie-Thon, an online fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, to which I have contributed for the past three years.

Okay, simple enough. But there was one question remaining: am I somewhat more disposed to making contributions in October than in other months? After all, the radio stations also have spring pledge drives, and a buck in April counts just the same, for their purposes and for the taxman's, as a buck in October.

Score this one as a definite maybe. I do know that concern for my fellow man is a lot easier for me to sustain when I'm not being beaten to death by the world as I know it, and historically, the fall rush at work (which now begins in late July or early August, for some inscrutable reason) starts to taper off after the first week of October. The irony here, of course, is that this concern, and the willingness to write checks to do something about it, will kick in at the very moment when my earnings, due to fewer hours being spent in the salt mine, actually start to decline somewhat.

Those donations have crept up a bit in recent years. I've got to assume that this is because of the deductibility, since my annual income has been more or less flat for the past three or four years. (Only recently have I managed to wangle a smallish — 6.5 percent — raise.) Given the marginal rates I pay — 25 percent Federal, 6.65 percent state — I suppose I could persuade myself that that every $100 I donate actually costs me $68.35. And so far, this is my only good argument against the flat tax.

The Vent

  1 October 2006

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 Copyright © 2006 by Charles G. Hill