History Miscellaneous

A Creative Child and His Intersection With Uncle Sam – Encouraging Ideas and Paying Taxes

March 23, 2017
Air Cleaner Invention

Laundry calls at all hours of the day. Mine has been known to need folding no matter the time. It is also very lazy and sometimes will lounge lifeless with arms and legs spread out everywhere on the sofa for an entire day.

lazy laundry - ideas

Do you know what has two legs, but can’t walk?


My youngest by a minute told me that joke. I laughed out loud.

While I am at it….what do you call a bear with no teeth?

gummt bears - ideas

A gummy bear!

Ba-duh-dah!  I love silly jokes.

One night, as I folded laundry and then put it away into the kids’ dresser my oldest, proclaimed from the high altitude of his loft bed lit by his reading light that he needed to talk to Daddy as soon as humanly possible.

I asked why.

Our oldest comes up with so many ideas.  Almost too many to manage.  So many so that about a year ago I bought him a sketch book and presented it to him as his “Idea Book.”  His ideas were getting lost in stacks of things.  There are only so many loose papers a mama can manage in 720 square feet with zero counter space.

And then I bought him an accordion file because the sketch book wasn’t enough.

The thing with ideas from children is that they are unbridled and are not influenced by the harsh realities of the world.  Between their ears and within their hearts is a mine of resources waiting to be found and released to someone willing to receive them.

Untethered creativity.  I think I have mentioned this before.

All that said.  He has a lot of ideas and sometimes it is hard to manage them because sometimes they are just darn impossible.  For example:  the time he wanted to completely redesign the Cub Scouts Pinewood Derby track and used countless pieces of paper (literally like 50 and I am not exaggerating) drawing swirls and twists that he wanted to propose replace the simple ramp used by every Cub Scouts troop on the planet.

I didn’t tell him he couldn’t, but eventually the idea fizzled on its own after I softly reminded him numerous times that the Derby everywhere used the same track design.

Then there was the time he wanted to make affordable Lamborghinis for children.

lamborghini - ideas

And the time when he designed a bounce house that would also squeeze oranges into juice, complete with a mechanism to load the juice into a truck after it had been bounced (read squeezed).

bounce house juicer - ideas

And the air cleaner/water sprayer, which was born during the devastating NC fires in 2016.

air and water cleaner - ideas

Then there was the time he was determined to build a train track around, over and under our house.  This was not a passing idea.  It persisted for a very long time.  I tried to softly decline it.  I mentioned we lived under the ruling of a Home Owners Association.  At a weak moment, I suggested he draw the idea for submission to the HOA.  He was relentless.  I suggested we build a model of it.  I got blisters on my fingers from the hot glue gun and spent more money than I care to admit at Hobby Lobby.

train track model - ideas

Then, our blind German Shepherd got turned around and trapped herself within it’s tracks and that was that.  It was very sad, but I was kind of relieved I didn’t have to kill the idea.

About a year ago he decided he wanted to make pottery and sell it to the local paint your own pottery studio.  Being a fan of trains he devised he would make the pottery at our house and would build a train track between our house and the pottery studio, which is seven miles away.  A train would run on the tracks between our house and the studio delivering pottery he had created.

pottery - ideas

Our van was not suitable transport because it was too fast.  He thought the pottery would break.  He also loves trains, so I theorize any idea that could be carried out with the use of a train was perfect for him.

My son is relentless with the desire to execute against his plans.  Did I mention relentless already?  This is because he has limited understanding of economics and what things cost.

It is enviable.

As much as I hated to do it.  I had to work carefully to unravel this particular plan.  We discussed the land owners of the track location he proposed and how he was going to use their property, bridges that would need to be built.  How much it would cost to make the pottery, transport the pottery via the train, and what the resulting sales price would need to be for him to break even or make a profit.  Also, we went over the state level approvals he would have to get because of impact to local roads as well as the street signs, crossing arms and signals that would have to be ordered (and paid for).

This idea went on for months.  I have to admit, it tested my patience in trying to encourage verses discourage his imagination.  That is tough to do when you know an idea will not work.  But I am an adult, so what do I really know – I am jaded by experience.

Thankfully, despite his persistence he is also a thinker and after silently reviewing the idea and re-reviewing it with me in lengthy discussions numerous times, he voluntarily surrendered it to file 13.

It is hard to burst the bubbles of your children.  Luckily there are some ideas we can help fulfill like Halloween costumes, despite high standards that are given for those as well.  He was disappointed Thomas did not have a coal tender and that the boom of his crane costume was not functional.

Thomas costume - ideas

crane costume - ideas

train costume - ideas

And for the other ideas, it is all about helping them problem solve and develop little miniature business plans to determine if their ideas are feasible.

His latest idea is to sell his art on our street. I am biased, but I will say, he is fairly talented in the ways of art.  Unfortunately, in his hasty desire to acquire money in return for his drawings, he quickly sketched out several pieces on printer paper using crayons as his medium.  They were not his best works, but he was determined to sell them.

They got a little wrinkled in the wind.

apple art - ideas

banana art - ideas

I did not tell him he could do better.

And, even though he understands he is not required by law to pay taxes on any earnings, he wants to do right by the government and go ahead and allocate a portion of his earnings from his art sales to Uncle Sam. He even developed a table in Microsoft Word showing how he plans to allocate his money.

business doc - ideas

This is why he needed to speak to his dad, so that he could understand how his father ensures money from his earnings gets to the government.

Meanwhile, we are just trying to get some back from the government this time of year!

Regardless, this is rather admirable if you ask me.  Is there anyone out there who likes to pay taxes?  Is this an appropriate time to mention I LOVE Willie Nelson and I have my picture with him? 😉

When we finally set up his art stand this past Saturday afternoon he had completed a sign outlining his art schedule and accepted payments.  He was only accepting one dollar bills, so that he could easily separate the funds into his 3 buckets (money to spend, taxes and savings).

artforsail - ideas

We live on a quiet street.  We waited a while before a gentleman walked by smiling and nodding as the kids announced, “Art for sale!”  He walked on.  It went like that for each and every passer by regardless of their transportation means.

Until…at last, a woman pulled up in her pick-up truck, hopped out and said in an excited voice that she heard someone was selling art and she was interested!

It turned out the nice gentleman from earlier alerted his wife of the sale when he arrived home from his walk and recommended she come by.  She chose a drawing of three apples on a tree and, while expressing how smitten she was with her choice, presented him with five dollars in quarters.

My heart was so full.  The children were elated.  It was such a simple and rather inexpensive act that only required love, 20 quarters, and a teeny bit of effort, yet it went infinitely into their little hearts.

Can you even imagine how he felt on the inside and how excited his brother and sister were for his first sale?  The warmth of that moment will last them a lifetime.

We all need that encouragement and reinforcement because no matter how determined we are it never hurts to get a little push or a pat on the back.  A little ‘Atta boy.’ Or, “Maybe next time.”  Especially our little people who are learning so much about the world we live in, by leaps and bounds, whether they want to or not.

We will try to sell more art this weekend.  In the mean time, I have been reading up on a little income tax history and what all of those federal income tax dollars go to so I can share more about it with my offspring.  Scroll down for that and make sure you take an opportunity to get down on your knee, look a little one in the eye and help them fulfill their idea (within reason people!).

Hey, their idea could be the next big thing and even if it isn’t they will feel like it is at least for a little while.

The History of the United States Internal Revenue Service

Uncle Sam - ideas

The history of the IRS harkens back to the days of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States.  In 1862 a position was created to sanction an income tax to pay war expenses.  It lasted 10 years and despite efforts of Congress to revive it in 1894 the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional the next year.

In 1913 the Constitution was amended when Wyoming joined the three-quarter majority of the states necessary to ratify the 16th Amendment, which states, “Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

The 1040 form was born and a tax of 1 percent was placed on incomes greater than $3,000.  Those making more than $500,000 were taxed at a 6 percent rate.

During World War I taxes were raised to help the war effort and peaked at 77 percent.  Whoah!!  After the war it dropped significantly to 24 percent and rose again during the Depression.  During World War II Congress introduced payroll withholding.

Taxes have come a long way since then.

If you google tax code these days you will find results that say it is 70,000 pages long.  At least one source debunks this, stating with confidence that it is about 2,600 pages.  The 70,000 pages referenced by others allegedly has the tax code and also resources, history, regulations and editorial commentary.  Regardless, it is grossly complex.

So, where does all of your Federal Income Tax money go?

I found a great overview of 2013 government spending here that sited whitehouse.gov and the Congressional Budget Office as sources.  Before you review my summary below, please note the following:  the numbers exclude mandatory social insurance programs (Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid), as those are in a separate part of the Federal budget.  Also, while this summary is not a perfect guide, it should give you a fair idea of where your federal income tax dollars are going.

Here is the summary I compiled:

  • 32% goes to Defense
  • 30% to ‘Non-Defense Discretionary Spending’
  • 27% to ‘Other Mandatory Programs’
  • 11% to pay interest on our National Debt

Okay. So that is not so helpful – unless you know what ‘discretionary spending’ and ‘other mandatory programs’ means.  Here is a visual breakdown of each of those categories:

budget chart one - ideas

budget chart two - ideas

If you want some of the devil in the details, then visit the US Government Publishing Office’s page to see the budget message from President Trump.  You can see former President Obama’s messages as well (which would be more applicable for the charts above).

Visit the Congressional Budget Office page to see nonpartisan analyses of budgetary and economic issues that support the Congressional budget process.  In the age of fake news, you have to love a department that states, “CBO is strictly nonpartisan; conducts objective, impartial analysis; and hires its employees solely on the basis of professional competence.”

Remember Tax Day is Tuesday, April 18th!  Make sure you try your best to get a little bit of your pie piece back!  If you are in need of a little guidance, here is the link to the IRS tax page:  Filing Your Federal Taxes

I hope you get a big refund and get to go on a big adventure, or at least that you won’t feel so bad when you leave Target with $100 less in your pocket for the second time in one week!  Journey on!

xo, the mamabrain at mamabrains

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