Why I failed to pay my taxes

A story about terrible software and bad local government contracts

Ben Werdmuller

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It turns out that Cheltenham Township, the municipality where I live across the northern Philadelphia border, incurs an extra earned income tax on top of the state and federal taxes that I’m used to paying. This would have been fine if I’d had any idea that such a tax existed, or if it had been automatically deducted from my payroll (everyone I got a paycheck from in 2022 used Justworks), or if Turbotax had let me know that this was something I needed to do. As it turned out, I didn’t have any idea until I got a letter in the mail this morning, it wasn’t deducted from my payroll, and Turbotax gave me the impression that I was done with my taxes, so I was inadvertently delinquent on my taxes until I paid them and the associated late fees tonight.

This isn’t, by the way, a post about being mad about paying tax! I like taxes. I want to pay for great community infrastructure like public schools, community fire departments, integrated public transit, and so on. I want those things to work when I pay for them, but I’m delighted to do so. (Please also let me pay for single-payer healthcare. I’m begging you.)

Also worth saying: I work in a well-paying industry and should pay tax at a higher rate than people who earn less than me. I welcome this with open arms. Tax me well! And then use that money to pay for vital infrastructure for my whole community.

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Ben Werdmuller

Writer: of code, fiction, and strategy. Trying to work for social good.