Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Private jets, secret countries, and taxes.

While traveling with a good friend who happens to be extremely well-off, I learned about the joys of having one of those Top Secret and Magical American Express cards. I heard the automated concierge say, "For private jets, press one. For reservations at fancy restaurants in one of those small European countries that only rich people know about, press two." (Okay, so option "two" is a bit of an exaggeration, but the private jet thing was real.)

Anyway, I kind of love all the perks that come from having an AmEx card and using it. I don't have one. I've almost gotten one several times, but I just don't imagine I'd ever spend enough money to be offered the super-fancy cards with private jet service.

Last Saturday night, while paying my 4th Quarter Federal Estimate Taxes online (what did YOU do last Saturday night? jealous?), I came across something that made me think I should get one of those cards immediately.

First of all, I thought I was a genius when I discovered I could pay my taxes online. Being self-employed means I pretty much pay double taxes, so I was very excited to find that I could put my taxes on a credit card. I suppose that could be a dangerous option if one were, say, given to running off to Paris rather than paying off one's credit card, but I would never do such a fiscally irresponsible thing... hee hee.

Really, though, I decided that if I'm going to be spending thousands of dollars on boring things like FICA, then I should at least be getting Frequent Flier Points for them. So I just pay them on my Mileage Credit Card, and I at least feel like I'm getting a treat for being honest.

After I paid the taxes, I saw an option in the corner of the screen that was just hard to believe. It wasn't a too-good-to-be-true phenomenon, but rather a seriously-that-can't-possibly-be-fair kind of thing. But I clicked on the option, and surely, it was fo' real.

It had a little AmEx logo on it that said: Use Membership Rewards ® points towards your payment and convenience fee when making a FEDERAL TAX PAYMENT through You can click on that last sentence and see if for real.

And it is. So I gather that, like many credit cards, AmEx gives a "point" per dollar spent on the card. You can use those points for all kinds of things, like most mileage cards. But ... in addition to getting airline tickets for spending LOTS of money on your card (that's sensible enough), now AmEx Members can actually use their points to pay for their federal taxes??!?!? How is that possibly fair??!?! People able to spend tons of money don't have to actually pay taxes? Amex does it for them?? I mean with years and years of collecting mileage points, I've ALMOST enough for a FlipCam. Hmpf!

I wonder how many points it would take to pay my 1st Quarter Estimates for 2011. And would the points I'd get on a trip to Paris cover them? Then my quarterly dilemma would be resolved.


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