Reflection Masthead
Issue 148 - Taxes - March 2017
      Consider a new paradigm within which to think about taxes... 
Lenten Examinations 
          April 15. December 25. Two red-letter days which roll around every year that I am never ready for. I know they're coming up but for some buried-deep-in-my-psyche-unknown reason, I put off preparing for them until the last minute. Why?
          Perhaps awareness is the key. This year I began thinking about working on taxes around March 1st which was, coincidentally, Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Lent, a time for personal reflection and penance, is a perfect time to work on taxes. After all, Socrates said, "An unexamined life is not worth living." Examining what I do with my money, as I pore over piles of receipts, is much like poring over my sins and shortcomings - my "missteps" as my Daddy used to say. I wonder if I made a list of my expenses and a list of my missteps, how would the lists compare? What would that tell me about the way I live my life? Senator Ted Cruz said, "Every American, I think, should be able to fill out their taxes on a postcard." My list of missteps would hopefully fit on a postcard too.
          Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin contends, "Taxes are way too complicated, and people spend way too much time worrying about ways to get them lower." I admit, I don't spend enough time trying to get my list of missteps shorter. It really only takes a few minutes every evening praying the Examen of Consciousness (examination of conscience) and again in the morning beginning the day with a similar Examen of Gratitude (video below), being thankful for all of God's gracious graces. There's no April 15 deadline for preparing one's soul for greater peace and joy. It simply happens grace-fully. Every day.    --by Jan
*Source: Brainy Quotes

Life, Line by Line
          Charitable contributions. Business expenses. Medical expenses. Mortgage interest.
          Yes, it is tax time, time to track down receipts and review our income and expenses for the last year. Actually, to review our lives through the lens of check books and credit card statements. We have a professional prepare our taxes, but he still sends us a 33-page worksheet to fill out.
          As usual, I find that I have given less to charity than I thought. As usual, I cannot find all the receipts I need. I resolve, once again, to be more diligent in my filing this year. I have never been a big fan of New-Year's resolutions, but I frequently make (and often break) tax-time resolutions!
          None us like to pay taxes, but filing our taxes is, nonetheless, a salutary spiritual discipline. As we review how we made, and spent, our money, we necessarily review our values: To what do we devote our days? To what ends do we invest our wealth, our time, and our energies? How do our finances reflect our verbal confessions of faith?
          In yet another way, the annual ritual of filing our taxes is salutary. It is a pledge of allegiance, not simply to the United States of America, but to very idea of "the common good." I stand and raise my Form 1040 in salute to our human community, our interdependence on one another, to the very notion that, like it or not, we are all in this together.      --by Bill


Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries