Hard work and achievement come with a hefty price.
Writing this article I am sick to my stomach as my accountant has just left my office completing end of year taxes– literally sick and angered. I am the grandson of Holocaust survivors. I grew up in a single-parent household in the Bronx and attended New York City public schools. I started working in a local pizzeria at the age of 12, and then attended a state university, which I finished in 3 years while working. A few years later I started 5WPR out of a 400-square foot office. Today as I sit here, I am being penalized for my vow as a kid that my family will never want for anything and I will be successful.
December 2012 marks the 10th anniversary since I founded this company as we now employ more than 100 people – and are one of the 20 largest US PR firms. Thankfully we do well and have healthy margins – I established a family foundation to give charity as I believe it is one’s obligation to give back to their community and important causes.
Yet today, I am sitting in shock after finishing end of year 2012 taxes of which I will pay more than 50% – 35% federal, 8.25 percent New York State taxes, and 4 percent local taxes. Add in Medicare, social security, payroll, workers compensation, NYC commercial rent taxes, payroll tax, and who knows what other tax and it is more than 50 percent. I am being taxed to death.
My employees here work very hard to ensure we succeed – and are paid well. They all received generous end of year bonuses, and rightfully are looking forward to having off December 24th and 25th, December 31st and January 1st, other holidays, have two weeks of vacation and a week of sick time. Of course, there is jury duty which employees have to take, snow days, and all the rest. By the way, I still pay rent on all of those days. Do successful entrepreneurs not deserve to also be treated as well as they treat their employees?
While office hours are 9 am- 6 pm, I rarely leave the office before 9 pm and have to travel a lot, so I miss my family on weekends and work non-stop thanks to technology. I am married to my business - hard work, discipline, and sacrifice. There is no rest; it is constant – and one always has to be the CEO and responsive to the needs of employees.
I work very, very hard – yet my motivation is drained by this constant tax. Why is it that this country is penalizing me for becoming successful – and being so good to my employees, as I want to be? I love summers in the south of France – I’d love to spend a lot more time there. But I’ll be sure to become a resident of Belgium on the border rather than be taxed at an even higher rate than America.
Tonight I am leaving the office early because I am frankly angry – and I’d rather take my family out to dinner than think about all my tax dollars being wasted.
To get home I have to walk by the Occupy Wall Street fools who stand outside of Lloyd Blankfein’s house and yell about how evil he is. Blankfein, the Chairman of Goldman Sachs who is now a billionaire is also from the Bronx. He sold pretzels at Yankee Stadium in High School and worked in the Harvard cafeteria before he made money. How does one explain to their children to work hard and to get ahead in life? Of the need to create a better life? Do I do that by telling them to work super hard so they get taxed?
I love America and am so proud to have been born in this country – but I have to tell you that this ain’t America the great today. Taxing someone for making it isn’t the American way and surely isn’t what the constitution had in mind. I am damn mad – and it’s only going to get worse.
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