Power, Health and State Taxes: Don't Take Them For Granted
Electricity and health: two things we take for granted.
Our country over the past few weeks has encountered some challenging weather. The fires in Colorado, the flooding in Florida, and devastating storms from the Midwest to the Mid-Atlantic.
Living in Virginia, we encountered some heavy storms Friday night and Saturday night. Living in the middle of trees (and I mean, a lot of trees), practially any time it storms with strong winds, the power goes out. Well, on Friday night our power went out at 11 pm. This caused us to not sleep very well, knowing that we had two refrigerators fully stocked and that the temperature has been over 100 degrees. Hence, we were worried about all of the food (and money) we would lose and how hot the house would get. All night long, all of my dreams were about the power coming back on. It felt like I would sleep for about an hour and then wake up hoping the power was on. It never came on. I was on pins and needles. It was like I couldn't breathe, no oxygen.
Needless to say, we woke up Saturday morning and went out for breakfast. We also ran to the hardware store to (you guessed it), buy a generator. However, the first store was out. The person working there said they just sold 20 in the last 10 minutes. I'm thinking, you didn't have to tell me that. Well, we quickly drove to the next closest hardware store and we were in luck. They had generators. We bought one, along with the gas tanks, cords, oil, etc. (that was an expensive morning).
Driving home from the hardware store, I received a call from the power company asking us to let them know if our power had not been restored, because they had completed work in our area. I just laughed. We will probably get home and the power will be on (simply because we just went out and bought a generator). Sure enough, we got home and the power was on. We were very relieved and grateful.
Last year we moved from the midwest to Virginia. The second month we lived here, we were greeted with a hurricane and earthquake. As a result of the hurricane, our power was out for 4 days. It was the first time I had experienced going that long without power.
What's the point of my story?
Well, the experience made me think of how much we take electricity and power for granted. We need it desparately to function and operate. When we have it, we hardly think about it. When we don't have it, that's all we think about. We want it to come back on so badly, yet we have no control over when it does. We can hardly function. The same can be said for our health. When we have it, we hardly think about it. When we don't have it, nothing else matters.
In the tax world, we (companies, businesses, tax professionals, etc.) can take state and local taxes for granted. A great number of companies don't want to deal with state taxes. Several companies like to play the "wait and see game" in regards to complying with state tax laws. Meaning, they want to do as little as possible now, and just wait until the state catches them. This is all well and good as long as the state never catches them. However, if the state does catch them, large liabilities including tax, interest and penalties can accumulate over the years causing companies to feel as though the power just went out, or they just got diagnosed with some disease.
Don't lose power. Reduce your risk of getting sick. Be proactive instead of reactive in your life, and how you deal with state and local taxes.
Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State Tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
You can reach Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Because state and local taxes are deceptively simple and endlessly complicated.