Virginia Postrel got hit with a big tax bill after receiving a late payment from her publisher last year, which wouldn’t have happened under the old income averaging rule:
The tax system has gotten more complex and progressive in recent years, making the arbitrary distinction between this year’s income and last year’s all the more unfair. (Year-to-year fluctuations don’t make a significant tax difference for the relatively few people who are always taxed at the top rate.)
One special class of people still gets to escape the tyranny of the tax calendar. In 1997, Congress restored income averaging for farmers and ranchers. It’s even more galling to be taxed extra for Simon & Schuster’s slow payment knowing that if I were growing corn instead of writing books I’d be able to offset the good years against the bad ones.
The problem is that writers aren’t one of Washington’s favored classes — although given that so many of them display such a slavish devotion to the White House, you’d think they were.