#56: Still More Mail…

Dear Stolf: Week before last, you showed how a baby born next year could be older than one born this year. This sounds like something that ties in with what my accountant calls the “kiddie tax”…what say you?  …from John in Waynestown

56.1  Dear John: I say that’s probably a very nice catch…and I say “probably” because tax laws are written to be intentionally incomprehensible, so it’s not surprising that I can find no explanation of the theory behind the particular law in question. But in general, the term “kiddie tax” refers to the fact that income earned by minors is subject to some degree of government plunder….you mean even lemonade stands? If they’re successful enough, yeah.

56.2  There are various cutoff points at various ages, treating such income differently. And in federal law, the way you determine how old a child is for a tax year is the age they are on December 31 of that year. The  exception is that a child born on January 1st is considered to be that age on the preceding December 31st…in effect, his birthday is moved up one day.

56.3  As I said, I have no definite reason why it’s done that way, but in examining the Time Zone discrepancies that occur at the end of one year and the beginning of another, it certainly makes sense. Take for example 2 babies, Abe and Zack, born at the same exact moment, but on opposite sides of the country. For tax purposes, Abe is considered to be 1 year old for the year 2013, since he turns 1 on 12/31/2013. On the other hand, Zack is not considered 1 year old until the year 2014…but they are the same “age”!

56.4  Thus Zack would be, for example, “under 18” for an one year more than Abe, even thought they are the exact same “age,” having been born at the exact same moment.

56.5  So to compensate, Zack is pushed back one day…he is now treated exactly the same as someone who is exactly the same age, which seems logical, wonder of wonders. On the other hand, this ruling applies to all children born on January 1st, not just to those born in the wee hours of the morning. Thus a child born at 12:01am on January 2nd on the East Coast will be older than someone born at the same moment on the West Coast, yet will indeed stay “under 18” a year longer.

56.6  But this is going  to happen no matter where you draw the dividing line…it can’t be helped. No matter what day it is, there will always be children born the “next” day who are older than some born the “previous” day. If taxes were figured by the day, this would cause at worst a discrepancy of 1/365th. But once a year, the years, not just the days, are out of sync…and if this isn’t in fact the rationale for the law, it still works out that way, so there you go…

Dear Stolf: Heads up! Incoming from the wiseGEEK cousins page!…from Chance, in Chelmsford, Mass.

56.7  Dear Chance: Thanx, man…for those who don’t know what Chance is talking about, wiseGEEK is a website that promises “clear answers to common questions.” Well, it’s a goal to shoot for, anyway. Their article on the degrees of cousinship is particularly chuckleheaded, so much so that I critiqued and corrected it line by line back in #24.

56.8  The odd thing is, over 30 people have posted “how are we related?” questions, and altho only a couple have been subsequently answered, they keep posting. I thought it would be a nice gesture to answer each and every question here, but guess what? They don’t allow comments that include links, so I am unable to tell those folks about it. Pretty “wise,” huh? At any event, and for the record, the bulk of the questions got answered, in full detail and will a chart for each, in #20-24, and later ones as they dribbled in.

56.9  “Cousins” are those individuals, beyond siblings and half-siblings, who are of your generation…that is, related to your nearest common ancestor by the same number of steps as you are. The “degree” refers to 1st cousins, 2nd cousins, 3rd cousins, etc. I call them collectively “numbered cousins,” to distinguish them from “cousins removed”…a misnomer if ever there was one, since they are cousins to someone in your direct line of ancestry, but not to you! For example, your “1st cousin once removed” is your father’s 1st cousin, not yours.

56.10  Most of us grow up with 1st cousins on our father’s side, the children of his siblings…and 1st cousins on our mother’s side, the children of her siblings. The spouses of our parents’ siblings are usually not related to each other…but if they are, we have individual cousins who are related to us thru both sides of the family, generically called “double cousins.”

56.11  The most typical case is shown in Chart 191…double 1st cousins…where 2 brothers marry 2 sisters (or it could be 2 mixed pairs, obviously.) If the parents were 1st cousins, each to each, the children would be double 2nd cousins, and etc. If the 2 sets of parents are related in different ways, there is no simple name for it…”irregular double cousins” is pretty much the best we can do…and that’s the situation here.

56.12   You’ll notice that in Chart 192, I’ve included all your mother’s cousins…you took the time to mention them all, so I figured what the heck? But as to the meat of the matter…your mothers are 1st cousins because their fathers were brothers. The children of 1st cousins are 2nd cousins to each other. You and your “double cousin” are thus 2nd cousins on your mothers’ side, 1st cousins on your fathers’ side.

56.13  Your Coefficient of Relationship is just a bit closer than if you were “single” 1st cousins…1/8 + 1/32 = 5/32…along the “32th’s” scale, you are a 5…1st cousins are 4, half-sibs are 8, siblings are 16. Double 1st cousins are as closely related as half-siblings…but beyond that, other mixes of “double cousins” make you more closely related for sure, but not by very much. The real bump-up occurs when siblings marry identical twins…the resulting 1st cousins are half-way between full and half-siblings…so-called “3/4 siblings.” But keep in mind, when we say 1st cousins are 1/8th related, that means they are 7/8th not related! In other words, with R for related, this is a sib: RRRR0000…and this is a 1st cousin: R0000000. Till next week, take it tizzy…

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Copyright © 2012 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved

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