Friday, April 16, 2010

Tax Day message

A friend forwarded this link to me. It is an article posted yesterday by James Tracy, Headmaster of Cushing Academy, entitled "The Joy of Tax." I think it is a nice reminder that part of the price of a strong society is our commitment to funding the government -- to provide essential services and to help those in need -- both of which functions our economic system is not designed to deliver. An excerpt:

Well, today is That Day, April 15th, and I seem to be the only person smiling. Leaving the post office after dropping off my tax payments, I have the same warm feeling I get when I leave WalMart after finding a good bargain. It is all the rage these days to rail against taxes and vilify government. Why doesn't this get through to me? My idea of a Tea Party is to pay my taxes gratefully then enjoy a cup of Earl Grey.

....Any human organization on such a scale is going to have corruption and inefficiencies, but, compared to the rest of the world, the American civil servants, overall, do a stellar job keeping us all safe, well, and provided with opportunities to better our lot. So I pay my taxes with a sense of patriotic pride, knowing that I am helping others as I have been helped and also that I continue to benefit.


Brenda said...

Its funny. I get the same feeling. I'm proud of what I contribute.

Barry Carol said...

As the article suggests, there is a serious disconnect here. I’ve read recently that surveys suggest that most middle class Americans think that a “fair share” combined federal, state and local tax burden would amount to between 15% and 20% of their income. Yet the government spending that they seem to support, again federal, state and local combined, consumes 30%-35% of GDP at a minimum. Even if the Iraq and Afghanistan wars never occurred, defense spending might only be about one to two percentage points of GDP less than it is now. Most of the rest of federal spending is accounted for by Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest on our debt. State and local spending is primarily for education and law enforcement, along with the state share of Medicaid and pension and health benefits for retirees. At the end of the day, the broad middle class has to pay for the broad middle class even if the wealthy pay a considerably higher percentage of their income in taxes. It’s as simple as that.

Steve said...

... and my message is "let's be thankful we are not getting *all* the government we are actually paying for"

Anonymous said...

Count me out. I think most taxation is a form of oppression. Particularly when we now live in a society where an increasing number of citizens pay no taxes, yet can have a voice in voting on raising the taxes on others. There are legitimate and opposite arguments that would suggest that by increasing the reliance on government, you undermine vast other areas of social networks. And at some point, relying on government (rather than families, churches, or fate) to "help those in need" may create enough dependence that most people lose much of their economic and, eventually, their political freedoms.

Jethro said...

I would expect no less from someone from an elite, non-profit institution like Cushing Academy. Any trouble making payroll this week ? Property taxes causing any issues ? America is what it is because we do not accept the status quo - think France, the old Russia - where only the elite have the opportunities. This country runs on small business and disruptive start up businesses. Think the old bank is scared of the new bank ? you bet they are. In most countries (Canada) for one, it is nearly impossible to start a new bank, hence the old bank enjoys it's lousy customer service without any fear of upstart rivals.

Think about this - would you rather have 10 banks with 10 presidents each making $10MM salaries, or 3,000 banks with each president making $300,000, and all while the consumer has many choices, better service, lower fees ???

I am sure that Cushing has a great library, maybe the headmaster should go in and read some Jefferson !

Cleary Squared said...

Let me play devil's advocate here: would the ones who consider paying their taxes a "patriotic duty" feel the same way if they were audited by the IRS?

That is, if they file their taxes and the IRS sends them an audit notice (either to correct or appear before an IRS auditor), how would they feel then? They would have to haul out several years of tax returns, have all of their proof if they did things right, and then hope the results are in their favor. If not, the IRS will levy (no pun intended, Paul) fines and interest because of their miscalculations.

I can bet the same people who proclaim paying taxes is patriotic will change their tune very quickly when they have to write out an additional check or two for their mistakes. If they can't pay it all, of course they could ask for a payment plan, but some face the possibility of having IRS tax liens on their homes (can't sell a home until you've paid off the IRS) or having their paychecks heavily garnished because they thought the government their due, but moved a decimal point the wrong way or had phantom kids or claimed a vacation as a business expense.

Even though there are some people who pay little to no income tax thanks to tax credits, those same people probably pay hidden taxes that are far higher and more regressive than the highest IRS income tax bracket of 35%. So even though the IRS can't their money through income taxes, they do get it through sin taxes, fees, fines, surcharges, and other revenue gimmicks.

Beth said...

Let me play devil's advocate here: would the ones who consider paying their taxes a "patriotic duty" feel the same way if they were audited by the IRS?

Been there, done that, when I was still back in junior high (I raised cattle as a kid, and I've been paying self-employment & federal income taxes since I was 6).

Yes, I still feel that way, even having had to face an IRS auditor when I was 13. She was very kind & gracious. It made quite an impression on me that someone whose work was reviled by so many could continue to smile and work to determine what the proper course was in that situation (I ended up having to pay additional taxes, but she marked out interest & penalties). One of the lessons I got out of it was that taking anything as a learning opportunity was a good way to Not Make The Same Mistake Again.

Our federal system of government is pretty reasonable for what we pay. I can't necessarily say the same for the 50 state governments. That's where the majority of the "sin taxes, fees, fines, surcharges, and other revenue gimmicks" come from, in an effort for politicians to be able able to say that they haven't raised taxes.