Monday, April 18, 2005

my paycheck and taxes

I finally got my first paycheck from UTM (things got hung up for a variety of visa- and stupidity-related reasons) and since I received 1 month pay in a single check, I got bumped up to a high tax bracket and lost over 50% of my gross pay. And the bummer about losing all that money in taxes on my paycheck is that I'll never see it again. If you lose money like that in the US, you know you'll get it back at the end of the year. But in Mexico, it's gone into the black hole. Which is why many Mexicans don't pay taxes. Right now is tax season in Mexico and the US. You constantly hear t.v. ads desperately pleading with Mexicans to file their income tax, almost suggesting that it was an optional activity that they should seriously considering undertaking.

In fact, just a few weeks ago in one of my classes we had an activity in which the students matched important days in the US (our textbook assumes that all English language learners live in the US and are deeply interested in American customs and practices) with their dates. One set was "Tax Day" and "April 15," so I asked my students what date tax day is in Mexico. They didn't have the foggiest idea.

I have a friend who spent a year on exchange in the US and she said to me: "Mexicans complain about paying taxes and Americans complain about paying taxes. But at least you can see where your taxes are going. Roads are in good repair, public spaces are kept clean, parks are generally well-cared-for, etc. But in Mexico, we pay taxes and we don't see any return. It goes right into corrupt politicians' pockets." I guess she has a point, though on the flip side, Americans also get to see how our tax dollars allow the U.S. invade Iraq and other imperialist acts that are so common in our history.

I will not go into the history of Latin America, but the US has a poor history with involving itself in affairs of other countries in L.A.

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