Poisoned by my home?

I feel terrible. Nauseated. Off. Unwell. Not quite right. I suspect I've been poisoned, slightly. I awoke in the middle of the night feeling like I was going to throw up and actually got out of bed to head towards the bathroom when I nearly stepped in a pile of cat puke. Then I realized that my cat was still throwing up in the living room. Very odd. I went into the kitchen to make sure the stove wasn't leaking gas and poked around a little looking for the source of our illness. Turned up nothing. Went back to bed. Rose this morning feeling only slightly better. The cat seems fine. I left him sleeping on the sofa and went to the office, determined to be free of the poisonous airs of the house.

More on the rebate debate

Well there's a nice little discussion going on over at MetaFilter inspired by my tax rebate post below. I invite you to add your thoughts. Also I'd like to clarify a bit about what I wrote yesterday. I don't have a problem really with the way the tax relief works. It makes sense to me. Contrary to the belief of some of my readers, I do understand the way income tax works in the United States, and economics for that matter.

What bothers me is how this whole story has been twisted around. Dawn followed up yesterday with another great link to the IRS's 2001 Advance Payments Information page which states,

The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 approved by Congress and signed by President Bush directs the Treasury to send checks to most income taxpayers this year, giving them an advance payment of a 2001 tax credit.

So why isn't it referred to like this in the media? Why is everyone pushing this as a rebate and making it sound like some sort of refund? Fucking politics. Fucking media. You know what's funny though? www.irs.gov lead the rankings of fastest growing domain ending July 22, 2001 according to Neilsen/NetRatings and 58% of the site's audience visited the page on tax relief, according to this ZDNet article.

Planet of the Apes

Planet of the Apes? Well it was better than The Score, but it was no, um, no (grasping to recall some movie viewed recently at the theatre that was actually good, but none come to mind, none! What is it with movies this year? Huh? They all majorly nearly-suck. There's nothing just plain incredible. And to think, in '99 in the span of a few weeks I saw "Fight Club," "American Beauty," and "Being John Malkovich." Jesus, if I could see one move of that calibre this summer I'd be psyched.) So PotA was kinda cool with its effects and makeup but the dialogue was just terrible. And character development and film junk like that was entirely absent. And I'd hoped to be a little scared of apes during it, but I wasn't. Jesus I hope Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back is good. The preview looked damn funny, and I love Kevin Smith, and Jason Lee is reprising his role as Brody Bruce, so it's got to be good, right? Right? Please? Please let there be one good movie this summer.

Beware the non-rebate tax rebate

Astute megnut reader Dawn V. sends in this article explaining the tax "rebate" is, in actuality, an advance on one's 2001 tax obligation. Curious, I pulled out the notice I'd received from the IRS and realized something: Nowhere does the term "rebate" appear on the page. It refers to the check I'll receive as, "tax relief," and says it is based on information I submitted on my 2000 return. But it does not say it's a rebate on taxes I paid in 2000, which was my understanding. So where did this "rebate" idea come from?

It looks like articles about the plan use the word "rebate" to explain the "tax relief," such as this one in the Washington Post (from Google's cache since the original URL's dead on the Post's site). The Street also calls it a "rebate" and says "The last time the government cut rebate checks was 1975," referring to the Tax Reduction Act of 1975:

The Tax Reduction Act of 1975 was signed into law on March 29, 1975, in the midst of the deepest recession in postwar history. Taxpayers received a 10 percent 'refund' on their 1974 taxes, with a minimum of $100 and a maximum of $200. Checks were mailed out in the second quarter of 1975. ยน

But if you look at the way the 1975 plan worked, it actually was a refund on taxes paid, not an advance on monies to be paid. Perhaps this is a source of the confusion: Dictionary.com defines rebate as,

A deduction from an amount to be paid or a return of part of an amount given in payment.

So while you or I assume rebate means "return of a part of an amount given in payment," i.e. a refund on taxes paid in 2000, the media and the government means, "[a] deduction from an amount to be paid," i.e. an advance on your refund for 2001. That's some tricky cash-flow shit, yo.

Imagine one day at work your boss says, "You've been working so hard, I'm going to give you a bonus. Here's $300."

"Thanks!" you say, pocketing the cash.

"No problem," s/he replies, "Oh, and your next paycheck will be $300 less."

This money isn't money being refunded to from taxes you've already paid. It is simply money you were going to get nine months from now when you filed your 2001 tax return.

Do something with your tax rebate

If you're one of the folks receiving the tax rebate from the government this month, and you've been wondering what to do with the cash, consider this: Give For Change, a website which allows you to make "online donations to causes you care about," will match your $300 or $600 donation (up to a million dollars) to any non-profit. If you'd been considering donating your refund, this looks like a great way to increase the impact of your gesture.