Monday, October 28, 2013

Monday Memory: Trick-or-Treating and Taxes

Thursday is Halloween, and you can bet we'll be taking Lana trick-or-treating through a sidewalk-lined, well-lighted section of town. She'll dutifully march from house to house, ringing bells and enthusiastically shouting "Trick or Treat!" and being rewarded with a piece of candy. It's the same for kids all across the country and it was the same for my family years ago.

However, in our family, the lesson was not just all about a night of free candy. Nope, our dad wanted to sprinkle a bit of real-world learning into what we can all admit is kind of a frivolous tradition. So when we got home from our night of candy-grabbing, we had to pay taxes and our dad was the taxman.
That meant we were expected to fork over about 25% of the candy we brought it. I remember my first few Halloweens with taxes and my dad explaining that just because I walked from house to house collecting candy did not mean I got to keep it all because blah blah blah blah. I'm sure Dad spewed a good speech, but all I heard was, "I'm taking some of your candy and you don't have to be happy about it, but you have to give it to me anyway." By the time my brother and sister were old enough to join in the trick-or-treating festivities, taxes were a well-known part of the evening and no one really complained (out loud at least). 

One year, either my brother or sister tried to hide some of their candy before reporting their bag to Dad for inspection. He suspected foul play and taught us a new lesson about taxes. If you misreport earnings, you have to pay the regular tax rate, plus a penalty fee. I think someone lost a lot of fun-sized candy bars for that error, and the other two of us immediately discarded all plans of hiding assets in the future. 

As adults, we can laugh about Halloween Taxes now, but as kids we took them quite seriously. Lana isn't old enough to really understand, and she only gets a piece or two of Halloween candy per day anyway, but when she's old enough to monitor her own candy stash, Dan has already called dibs on the role of taxman.

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