It started when my child was around 5 years old. He may have been a bit younger, or older; I am not entirely sure. I just know he was small.
We had gone to the Everything is a Dollar store. The store that my husband will wander around and ask me the price repeatedly.
“How much is this?”
“One hundred pennies,” I say, just to break up the routine and throw him off his game.
So, there we were, in the Everything is a Dollar store and my child had a freshly gifted $5 burning a hole in his Pokemon wallet.
Knowing the fact that everything was indeed only a dollar, he picked out five things.
I tried to caution him that he should get just four items, but he ignored my warning. He had five things on his radar and five things he was going to get.
He got behind me in line, waiting patiently for me to finish my purchase.
Once I did, he placed his five items down on the counter and waited for his total.
“Five thirty-five,” the cashier said.
I was still holding my wallet, knowing he was going to need some change, but Cole put his $5 bill on the counter and slid it across to the cashier.
“I have five,” he said.
She smiled at him. “Honey, it’s $5.35. You need 35 cents. Do you have 35 cents?” I believe her question was more directed at me more than my child.
“What is the 35 cents for?” he asked.
Cole nodded slowly. “Tax? Isn’t everything a dollar?”
“It is, sugar, but you gotta pay tax on it,” she explained, thinking this was just a cute learning moment for my child.
He nodded again. “Your sign says everything is just a dollar though. It don’t say nothing about taxes. You false advertising.”
The cute learning moment was over.
“You gotta pay tax though, everyone knows that,” she said.
“Your sign doesn’t say plus tax; it says everything is just a dollar. You are false advertising,” he said again. He pushed his money closer to her.
“There’s the $5 for my items. That’s all I am paying because your sign did not mention taxes.”
He took his bag and walked towards the door where his father was waiting.
“You are getting the taxes, right?” the cashier asked me.
I nodded and dug the change out of my wallet.
This little exchange established a lifelong aversion to paying sales tax for my child and the belief that Mama is supposed to pay it for him.
Anytime he makes a purchase, it doesn’t matter what it is, or how much money he has, my now teenager will look at me and ask, “You got the tax, right?”
I sigh and assure him I will cover the tax.
Sometimes, what he wants is slightly more than the money he has.
“Mama, it’s only $2 more; can you help a child out?”
“And you still got the tax, right?”
Yup, I still got the tax.
Gone are the days where just a dollar store toy will make him happy, and his tastes now involve video games. After receiving a gift card for three months for some online platform, my child was hooked.
“Mama, if I give you the money, can you put it in your account and let me order it?”
“If there’s any tax…”
“I’ll get it,” I said.
However, to renew again was $25 per month once his subscription ended.
“Child, I will get the tax, but I’m not giving you $25 a month to play a video game. And I don’t like giving my debit card information to something like that.”
He understood, but he still had to try.
Being quite the resourceful one, he came up with an idea.
“What if I had my own debit card?” he asked.
“What if I had like a pre-paid debit card. That way, it wouldn’t be linked to your account, and I could order my subscription. Would you be OK with that?”
It actually sounded like a good idea, but there was one catch: there was going to a $4.95 fee to load the card.
“What?!” my child exclaimed. “I have $20 I want to put on there, and I have things I need to order. That means I will only have $15.”
He frowned at the thought of this. Five bucks is five bucks, no matter how old you are but especially if you already had it earmarked for something else.
“I will cover the fee,” I said with a sigh.
“Really?” he asked. “What if they charge me tax, too?”
“I’ll cover that as well.”
A few weeks later, he needed to reload his card.
“So, Mama, you got the fees for me, right?” he asked as we walked into the store. “And the tax?”
I knew it was coming before he even asked.
Just three things in my life are certain. Death, in some unforeseen future, paying taxes, and any and all applicable fees.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist residing in the North Georgia Mountains among the bears, deer, and possibly Sasquatch. She lives to disappoint her mother, or at least that is what she has been told. You can connect with her on Facebook at Mama Said: A Collection of Wit, Humor, and Deep-Fried Wisdom.