In 1997, I was using Turbo Tax to do my income taxes, and as an
intellectual exercise, I decided
to find out how
much I would have had to pay in taxes if I had also worked as a spy for the the United States in the
United Arab Emirates for one week in June, in addition to my normal job at the graphics lab at the University of Maryland.
I had to make a few assumptions when computing my alternate taxes, since several spy-related items were not listed in Turbo Tax.
1.) A spy needs a handgun as a business tool
2.) A spy needs a flashy sports car
Reported Income (miscellaneous, since the category 'espionage' didn't exist in Turbo Tax) for spying on the United Arab Emirates: $1,000,000
1997 Porsche Boxter (The choices for flashy sports cars were
*extremely* limited. My only other real option was the Ferrari 358GT).
As a responsible spy, I wanted to be a good steward of the American
Taxpayer's dollars, and went with the less expensive option. This should
*not* be mis-construed as an endorsement for the Porsche Boxter, which
never really met my approval as a sports car
Price $60,000 + $3,000 in taxes (the taxes could be deducted)
$3,000 in licensing fees and registration
(includes luxury and 'gas guzzler' tax)
Vehicle in use from 06/01/97 - 06/07/97 (one week)
$1,200 travel expenses (airfare)
$1,000 in miscellaneous business-related expenses (Beretta 9mm with
Beretta in use from 06/01/97 - 06/07/97.
I assumed I'd dispose of the Beretta by throwing it into the Persian
Gulf, which gave
me a significant tax break -- the effective selling price was $0
$500 for auto insurance
$17 for gas (one tank, high-octane)
250 miles of travel, at 33.7 cents per mile
$40/day for parking in the U.A.E. (OUCH!)
$26,847 was the loss I was permitted to take when I drove the Boxter
a bad neighborhood in the U.A.E., and parked it, leaving the keys in the ignition,
and placing a sign on the windshield which read, "Free Car."
It seems that because I was unaware that I would be spying for the United
Arab Emirates in 1997, I failed to pay my estimated taxes, and suffered a
further penalty of $20,602
TurboTax said that because I was successful in my business endeavour
"other," I am to be congratulated. However, it also indicated that tax-payers in my income
bracket, occupation, and amount of deductions, are frequently audited by the Internal Revenue Service. Why doesn't that surprise me?
My total taxes due (including those from my ordinary job at the graphics
lab) were $387,103
What I learned from this exercise:
I should be more careful about sudden career changes, and clearly, American spies have discovered tax shelters which are unknown to me.