Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Polar Bear and the Case of the Mysterious Tax Boxes!

Being that my birthday is on tax day, my life has been involuntarily assigned to groans or looks of horror when the knowledge of my birthday is revealed.

"April 15th?! Tax Day?! UGH!"

Thanks. I'm glad I was born too. As a child, I could never understand what the fuss was all about, understandably, since I didn't have to file and/or pay taxes. As an adult, it's still not too bad. I simply resign myself to finishing my taxes by March 15th, thereby clearing the way for fun and frivolous preparations.

I filed for unemployment today. The ten years I've been contributing to the American workforce, diligently handing over obscenely large fractions of money from my (comparatively) meager pay checks so that that this country can try to function (or not, as the case may be), is about to pay off - just not in a way that I've ever wanted.

Let me explain something. I am proud to pay taxes - birthday groans included. I consider it as part of my duty, as a citizen of this country, to pay my taxes. I have never complained about the mysterious boxes on my pay summary that take money away from me. If anything, I've smiled wanly, knowing that the money in that unexplained box gets used for something good. Let's take one such mysterious box: The SDI tax.

Now, unless you're a tax wiz and know what these crazy government acronyms mean and what they do, you're probably like me, assuming that the acronym stands for something important, something worthwhile, and don't tend to question what your money is going toward. According to the Employment Development Department of California, the SDI Tax:

... provides temporary benefit payments to workers for non work-related disabilities. The SDI tax also provides Paid Family Leave (PFL) benefits. Paid Family Leave is a component of SDI and extends benefits to individuals unable to work because they need to care for a seriously ill family member or bond with a new minor child.

See? We birdbrains were right! The SDI tax does something important! HOORAY!

Now let's look at another mysterious box: The UI box. What could the letters U and I combined stand for (besides Urinal Inside, or Unicorn Intersection)? Well, they stand for the Unemployment Insurance tax. And if you've never seen this before, it's because this tax is payed for by employers. And again, according to the EDD:

The UI program is part of a national program administered by the U.S. Department of Labor under the Social Security Act. The UI program provides temporary payments to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. UI is paid by the employer.

Both of these taxes are important - they go to help people with illness or new children or folks who simply can't get a job (which, as it happens, is quite a few these days). And I love paying these taxes! What I DO NOT love, is that I am now filing to receive benefits from them. Logically, having paid taxes for the better part of 10 years, I should be okay with this. After all, this is why we have these taxes, isn't it? This is what my money has gone toward.

But the reason I have a problem with applying to the EDD for unemployment, is that there are people who need the money more than I do. There are people who don't have the training, or the education, or the work experience that I do. There are people who are living in parks or street corners or freeway over passes who could use this more than me ... and the only reason I'm applying for it? Is because after 65+ job applications over the course of a month, I can't get so much as an interview.

This blog is brought to you by:

The Employment Development Department of California
Trader Joe's French Berry Lemonade
My Bachelor's of Arts Degree


jennifer from pittsburgh said...

Well, my oldest son, Cree, was also born on tax day (1989), so that's something, right? It was also, more importantly to everyone I knew at the time, the first day of trout season, so that's how we all talk about it ;)
The filing for unemployment...it's always tough the first time, but like you've pointed out to us, and to yourself, you have paid into the program for more than a decade. It's why it's there! It's a safety net between jobs during tough times.
You'll come through ok. Keep plugging along :)

Phoenix said...

oooh, French Berry lemonade... Also, not to be all "Well at least blah blah blah" because I hate it when people do that to me when I have a gripe, but I do know two people who are no longer allowed to celebrate their birthdays because they fall on Sept. 11th. So it could be worse, I guess.

I imagine that filing for unemployment probably sucked mightily, so I'll just go ahead and say that those who love and know you will always see you as useful, productive, talented, and definitely having a place in this world to make it a little cooler (and a little more cultured, I dare say.)

This too shall pass, girl.

Radical Bradacal said...

Jennifer - How awesome your son and I share a birthday! So cool! First day of trout season is a good reason to rejoice. Now I want to buy a new fishing pole ... those stupid Grizzly bears only have to open their mouths and the fish just jump in. Polar Bears are much more sophisticated. ;) Also, thanks for the encouragement ... plugging is all I can do. ;)

Ph to the oenix - I love that you start your comment out with "oooooh, French Berry Lemonade..." I heart Gemini's. ;) And thank you for the support. Always.