Friday, March 28, 2014

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

With the April 15th filing deadline approaching, many of us turn our attention to filing our tax return and, for some, paying a tax bill.

Americans will spend more than 7 billion hours gathering information and preparing tax returns this year, according to the National Taxpayers Union. And this year it is estimated that taxpayers will hand over more than $4 TRILLION in local, state, and federal taxes.

On average, taxpayers will surrender nearly 30% of what they make to pay taxes.

And yet our nation is drowning in debt and Washington is demanding more of our money to pay for their profligate spending and questionable decisions.

And our convoluted tax system allows Washington to play "gotcha" with law abiding taxpayers that make a mistake when attempting to comply with the monstrosity of the tax code as well as hide taxes and fees that we pay..

Consider that the U.S. tax code is now 3.8 million words long. For comparison, the entire works of Shakespeare is about 900,000 words. 75 years ago, the instructions for the basic form 1040 were two pages long. Today, they are 189 pages.

The IRS has 1,999 different forms, instruction sheets and publications that taxpayers can download from their website

When the income tax was first implemented in 1913, the rate was 1% and the top marginal rate was 7%. Now the lowest rate is 15% and the top marginal rate is 55%. And according to the Tax Foundation, Americans have to now work until April 17th to pay all their taxes at all levels- the so called "tax freedom" day.

The current mutation of the tax code allows Washington to punish those that are out of political favor (See: IRS vs. Tea Party) and to use it as a tool for social planning. Remember the "marriage tax" that existed for years, a higher tax on married couples than on those who co-habituated?

The complexity of the code ensnares taxpayers that make innocent mistakes and is punitive in its response.

Okay, we all know these facts. And we can all vent until we are blue in the face.

But here is what we need to keep in mind:

Our elected leaders continue to spend beyond the means and resources of the country and the tax paying populace. In fact, there is NO fiscal discipline in Washington. We have come to expect that from liberals and Democrats, but frankly, the "conservatives" and Republicans have gotten just as bad about spending.

And until that changes, until WE make it change, Washington will continue to overspend and waste our money.

Know this, it is fun and politically expedient for those in Washington to spend our money. And it certainly isn't painful for them to spend our money.

So we need to make it painful. We need people in Washington that have some fiscal common sense, that have some spending discipline, and that have our interests at heart.

We don't have that now.

Because we let it happen.

So we as voters and taxpayers need to reverse course and demand that fiscal accountability from our elected leaders.

Or we work to remove them from office.

If we don't, we as taxpayers will be the ones that continue to bear the brunt and the pain of our current course.

And that, my friends, is my view.

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