Oliver Wendell Holmes once quipped, “Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” I believe he was mistaken. Taxes are actually the price we pay for our lack of civility. A truly civilized society would find non-coercive means to finance necessary services and eliminate altogether the unnecessary ones that seem to make up the lion’s share of government spending today.
So in honor of Tax Day 2014, I’ve pulled together a few links on the subject. To start off, you might enjoy a couple of articles about the sunny side of being looted each April.
Emma Brockes of The Guardian begins with an article about how the IRS ordeal offers one an opportunity to reflect on the ups and downs of the prior year. Personally I’d rather do that for free on my birthday, but Ms. Brockes is obviously a glass-half-full kind of person.
Derek Thompson of The Atlantic provides a number of charts intended to convince us that giving up at least a third of our income is actually a good thing, comparatively speaking. Echoing Justice Holmes, he informs us that “taxes are a keen reflection of what we value as a country.” Evidently we Americans value undeclared wars, empire, intergenerational theft, and interest on the borrowed money used to pay for it all.
CNN’s Julian Zelizer is worried that at least a third of one’s income isn’t enough money to throw into the gaping maw of the US government, and encourages Democrats to raise taxes even more (mainly on people who make more money than he does). He longs for the days of the 90% tax bracket. As if in answer to Mr. Zelizer’s request, Americans for Tax Reform remind us that President Obama has attempted to raise taxes 442 times since he took office (this number excludes the taxes that were signed into law as part of the Affordable [sic] Care Act).
Some of the less sycophantic articles have turned up a few interesting tax-related tidbits. Although not income-tax related, a man in Chicago allegedly pulled a gun in a store over a twenty-two cent tax on soda. The man told police that he was exempt from the sin tax because he lived in the neighborhood. The police disagreed with his interpretation of the law. Fortunately no one was harmed in the incident, but had he lived in New York City during the Bloomberg years things might have gotten really out of hand.
And CNN reminds us that laws do not apply to lawmakers. Of the 39 members of the House Ways and Means Committee, the group responsible for writing tax law, at least eight have had problems with paying their taxes on time (if at all).
The Internal Revenue Service, facing stiff competition from the TSA and NSA for the coveted “Most Reviled Agency in American Government” award, has upped its game and decided that the debts of the father are now the debts of the son. They are collecting back taxes owed by deceased taxpayers from the surviving children. Evidently the agency isn’t content to rifle through the pockets of widows and orphans with the estate tax.
But enough with the downers already! Tax Day is depressing enough as it is. So Kate Incontrera of The Daily Reckoning outlines some of the stranger taxes Americans pay. Take the candy tax in Illinois, for example, which hits Tootsie Rolls at 6.25% but sensibly only taxes Kit Kats at 1%. And between 2005 and 2009, Tennessee levied taxes on marijuana, cocaine, meth, and crack (until someone reminded the state legislature that those things were actually illegal).
And finally, the always entertaining Remy gives us the Tax Day Edition of the song “Happy.” Enjoy!