Sunday, March 3, 2019

Commentary: 'Political Shifts That Come Through Tax Preparation....' by David B.

Sometimes, it just takes a sentence or two to help people shift their political perspective.  Sometimes I do that while preparing tax returns.
Last week, I was working with someone who, in the middle of the conversation, asked if “I was a Trump guy.”  I shook my head.  I’ve known this man for decades. He’s a good guy.   I wasn’t going to get into a discussion — yet.  A few minutes later, he said with a laugh — I forget about what, exactly — “Well, that’s one good thing about ObamaCare!” 
“You know what else is good about ObamaCare?” I asked.  “There is no such thing as a pre-existing condition. You know that there are thousands of people who were forced to stay on their job because if they left and went somewhere else, they would have a pre-existing condition with the new insurance company. Or, if they had a heart attack or diabetes or cancer and lost their job, that condition could longer have been covered. Now there are no longer any pre-existing conditions.”

I took a breath, as he nodded with recognition. “You know what else is good about ObamaCare? There used to be lifetime limits on health insurance. A kid with juvenile diabetes or juvenile cancer could have used up their coverage before they even turned 15.  Now there are no limits for people like that, or anyone.”
I looked at him, and he was nodding.  
“You know what else is good about ObamaCare?  Until your son was 26, he could stay on your health insurance.”
He was silent.  He got it.  Sometimes, people who just hear one side of a story — perhaps from Fox News — have to hear the truth.  And they get it.
* * * 
Another client came in a couple of years ago, complaining about the 3 million illegal aliens who voted in California for Hillary. Yeah, he swallowed the Kool-Aid. He was a retired machinist.   Last year, he asked me about the new tax laws.  I told him that Congress got rid of the category of “unreimbursed employee expenses.”  That meant, I told him, that “union dues were no longer deductible.” Color drained from his face. “Small tools, safety equipment — no longer deductible. For first responders, there are no union dues, no uniform expense, no uniform maintenance, no ammunition for police, no range fees, no house dues for firefighters for their fire houses, no safety equipment for them.”  
He looked like he was punched in the gut.  He asked. He needed to hear that.  That Kool-Aid suddenly stopped tasting so good. I left it there, for him to contemplate, and finished his return.
* * * 
I had a retired New York City teacher this morning.  Somehow, Bernie came up in conversation. “I don’t like him. Too far to the left. Too far to the left,” she repeated. I don’t want to pay for anyone else’s free tuition.  He wants to tax my income too much.”
I looked at her.  “He doesn’t want to tax your income.  He makes more than you do. He wants to tax people who make ten times more than you do.” 
She relaxed, slightly.  “That’s okay.  They deserve to be taxed.” 
I mentioned that, back in the day, the City University of New York was free. “Yes,” she said, “I went there when it was free.”  
“Well,” I replied, “That’s what Bernie and his supporters want, for kids to have what you had.”
Suddenly she got it.
She’s not afraid of Bernie anymore.
* * *
Sometimes, it just takes a simple, conversation, without conflict, for people to understand simple concepts, and to knock the epistemic cobwebs out of their ears.
I have made a few posts about the Tax Cut and Jobs Act.  I wrote this one last monthand I wrote  these two here and here back when it passed in December of 2017, which this community liked a lot.  I will likely add a few more before April 15th, as time allows. 
As we remain conversational instead of confrontational, this new tax law can be our best friend.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at the Daily Kos, which stipulates that its "content may be used for any purpose without explicit permission unless otherwise specified."