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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 10, 2012/ 18 Nissan, 5772

My Father's 1959 Tax Return

By Tom Purcell




http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I stumbled upon my father's 1959 income tax return a few years ago. Oh, how I long for the simplicity he enjoyed when he filed that year's taxes.

For 1959, my father paid a measly 5 percent in federal taxes, even though his name wasn't Rockefeller.

How did he do it? It was easy. For a year when the top income tax rate was 91 percent -- President Kennedy would slash rates a few years later -- deductions were many.

Even middle-class people like my dad enjoyed their fair share of perks.

He was a heavy smoker then -- who wasn't? -- and was able to deduct every penny he paid in cigarette taxes.

He was able to deduct every penny he paid in gasoline taxes. If we had such a perk now, the federal government would go broke (that is, more broke than it is now).

And he was able to deduct every penny he paid in state sales tax in Pennsylvania, another wonderful perk that would save the average Pennsylvanian a boatload in federal taxes every year.

He took a $600 tax deduction for each of his two dependents, my sisters Kathy and Krissy -- a lot of dough relative to his income.

For 2011, the deduction for each dependent is $3,750. On paper that is six times what my father got in 1959 -- but if properly adjusted for inflation it would be about $5,000 today.

Here's one that grabbed my attention: In 1959, he paid only 2.5 percent of his income toward FICA (then, Social Security; now, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid).

Now, aside from a temporary 2-percentage-point FICA tax break, the average employee pays 7.65 percent and his or her employer kicks in another 7.65 percent.

I, being self-employed, have the pleasure of paying the full 15.3 percent myself. Despite the 2-percentage-point break for 2011, I will write out a sizable check to bring current the more than $12,000 in FICA contributions I am on the hook for.

In any event, my father had his fair share of simple deductions in 1959, which helped offset his federal taxes. That helped him keep his total federal tax tab at a measly 5 percent.

Better yet, his tax form was one sheet of paper printed on both sides. He had no calculator, nor did he need one.

He did a test run in pencil on one copy of the form, then finalized a second in ink and mailed it in; he always got a refund.

Which is why I long for the simplicity he enjoyed back then.

In 1959, the federal tax code was about 15,000 pages. Today, it is more than 70,000 pages.

Unlike my father, who was able to calculate his taxes quickly, I spend days getting mine in order, so I can hand them off to my CPA, so he can tell me I owe lots more than I feared I would.

This year, after all my deductions for business and pain and suffering -- including the agitations of three rental properties and thousands of dollars invested in a big renovation project -- I will pay about 25 percent of my gross income in federal, state and local taxes.

I consider myself lucky.

Still, as April 17 approaches (April 15's on a Sunday this year), I look back fondly on 1959. I didn't pay a dime in taxes that year. I didn't waste a moment getting hundreds of receipts in order and panicking when my CPA told me what I owed.

I wasn't born until 1962.

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