(This was first published in April 2009 in a “Garden for All” garden column for the West Seattle Herald. As with our tax code, it has been updated annually.)
A Tax Guide for Gardeners
This recent tax season spurred on yet another garden analogy from Yours Truly. I realized as gardeners we already pay taxes in our own way. Here’s what I have redefined for gardeners so far:
Gardener Tax Filing Status – Choose one only – and you know who you are.
1. New Gardener
2. Not-So-New Gardener That Only Knows What She Grows
3. Gardener That Really Knows Better But Does It Anyway
Plant Sales Tax – You know those plant sales where you overbuy, or buy on impulse? Ya, you know what I mean. There were some plants that were definitely on your list and you bought them for a particular spot – those usually go into the ground first. And there are the plants that you fell in love with at first sight, bought on impulse, and will “find a spot for it later.” It is some of this latter group that invariably perish and die, either through hesitation or unintentional neglect. These dead plants are the plant sales tax that we already pay gradually throughout the year.
Garden Income Tax – You are very well acquainted with this one and you don’t even know it. This could easily be broken down into several sub-categories: Squirrel Tax, Mole Tax, Snail & Slug Tax, Aphid Tax… whatever you’d like to call it. We have to constantly give up portions our trees, plants, flowers and lawns all year ’round. I’ll never forget that day last summer when I saw Squirrel scamper away with my first fig from my new baby fig tree. – I was really taxed then! ;o)
Adjusted Garden Income – When you rescue that giant Zucchini from Squirrel, and just cut off the couple of bite marks at the end, the portion that is cut off should be subtracted from your Garden Income.
Shoulda-Used Tax – This tax could be called the “I Shoulda Tax” but the government would probably change the slang into something boring. The Shoulda-Used Taxes are the monetary equivalent of the chores that we put off because we like the looks and the rewards of a well-established perennial – only to discover a few weeks into the growing season that we should have divided it last spring. Ground cover Thymes are good examples, if they aren’t divided every few years, they get that gaping hole in the middle of the plant and start to look scraggly.
Other applications involve not thinning out your vegetable starts in time, and they get too crowded to grow and compromise the whole crop. Not digging and dividing your lily bulbs and they eventually flop over in the middle of the summer and smother your carpet of sedums. Or letting those weeds invade your miniature garden and destroying the look of your carefully planted ground covers. Now you can see how we pay our own garden taxes throughout the year.
When you to adjust your gardening habits and garden bed location due to someone else’s ignorance and lack of caring. Multiply this total by how much work they create for you and divide by how many eyesores you have to contend with.
– Examples: When your neighbor plants trees that are not a good candidate for the spot and you have to watch a beautiful young Birch tree get hacked up because it’s growing into the power lines – and then look at it from your back deck forever. Or, his corkscrew willow is rapidly shading your well-established, 40 year old blueberries on your side of the fence. Ya, ignorance tax. It’s real.
Garden Plot-erty Tax – Debit the part of the garden we had to give up for anything non-garden, like a new extension on the house, a bigger deck, etc. And credit yourself when you add more garden bed space by taking away from your lawn.
Hopeless Investment Tax – Those wonderful flower bulbs we sink into the ground only to have Squirrel dig them up for his dinner. Or, in our Seattle climate, the bulbs that never come back because they rotted through our wet winters. Any extreme weather loss falls under this category. For any record-breaking extreme or natural disaster, multiply total by 100.
Organic Gardening Exemptions – Any type of organic gardening practices automatically get a tax exemption. Rain barrels, beehives, bat houses, bird houses, hedgerows, composting, rain-gardening etc. Bonus exemptions include boycotting any greedy corporation that is involved with any kind of environmentally-unconscious business practices.
Exercise Tax – After those long spring days in the garden when your body isn’t used to the bending and hauling… ugh! We should get a tax break on Epsom salt, bubble bath and wine.
Enter total on Schedule G, Form 8888abc, line 84.3d. ;o)
Got a garden tax to share? Leave it in the comments below. And someone call the IRS – maybe we can get a better tax break next year.