Tax Freedom Day

We just passed the day when most of us stopped working for the Federal Government—and started working for our state and local ones.

Most of us have another two or three weeks to go on that, some even more.

Then we can finally start working for ourselves.

When I was on the treadmill as an employed clinician, I found this frame of thought most disheartening.

As I was entering data and closing charts in dark February and blustery March, the idea that I was deriving no personal value from my efforts made my shoulders sag.

I reflected that before I had worked as an employed physician, back when I was the owner of my own practice, I never felt such weight.

Everything I did generated some sort of value—either to my professional reputation, my company’s assets or my patient’s health.

But when I was cashing a paycheck, the thought of working simply to hand my wages over to the government made my efforts seem absurd. Even the data I was submitting didn’t do anything to make my patients better, it only enriched my employer.

The whole absurdity made me feel like a giant sucker.

There I was, away from my family, losing discretionary time, generating value for everyone–everyone except those who I loved or served.

The futility eventually became too much.

Time is all we have.

When I made my change back to self-employment, I was more than a little curious to see if my shoulders would still sag.

My income and my tax liability were never really any different–even during those many months that I was still working towards my “tax freedom day.”

And when this year’s tax freedom day came around, I found my shoulders didn’t sag at all.

That’s an unrecognized downside of corp-med work.  You’re spending almost half the year working for someone else and, because of the structure of most clinician’s employment contracts, there is really no upside to that time.

Working for free until the middle of June is simply one more thing you pay in exchange for a steady paycheck

Now if your company allows you to participate in shared-risk contracts such as Medicare Advantage, this doesn’t apply to you: you are getting your share, and autonomy, and excellent patient relationships all along—even if the government is picking your pocket along the way.

But if you’re a professional wage slave, even for a good wage, how deep into the year your tax freedom day goes should give you great pause.

Time is all we have.

What are you doing with yours?