Alan Webber: The hand in your pocket
As Mike Madigan points out rocks Gov. J.B. Pritzker is supposed to look under for new ways to tax Illinois citizens in order to pay for politicians’ past misdeeds, you should start thinking about gathering information together in order to file your taxes timely.
Fortunately, Washington, D.C., politicians are so busy eating each other while obstructing Donald Trump from pulling the plug on the Swamp, they have not gotten around to figuring out additional ways to tax us. Eventually, they will get back to it, but they understand they have to get rid of Trump first.
Did you know there was no federal personal income tax in the U.S. before 1861? It was enacted to help pay for the Civil War. It amounted to 3 percent of all income more than $800, which would be about $22,300 today. A friend asked if perhaps the secessionist states should have had to pay for it, but I was afraid to ask.
The government must have taken a liking to sticking their hands in the collective pockets of the citizenry … so well that they passed it permanently with the Wilson-Gorman tariff in 1894, the first time during a period of peace. At that time, tax was 2 percent on income more than $4,000, or about $116,000 now. Still, fewer than 10 percent of households paid any income tax. The “explanation” for this tax was to make up for revenue that would be lost by tariff reductions. So, Pandora’s box was kicked open because of tariff reductions. Ironically, 135 years later, President Trump is trying to level the playing field for America’s tariffs, which protect some at the expense of others.
There were some political shenanigans regarding income tax, as it was not constitutionally legal according to the 10th Amendment of that pesky Constitution. Congress went around that by establishing the 16th Amendment. Anybody remember the Constitution? Look under Barack Obama’s shoe.
As people like Pritzker or members of the U.S. House lay awake at night trying to figure out taxing the air we breathe, have you considered everything the average working stiff pays for in taxes?
In 2014, under the pseudo-name Tyler Durdin of “Fight Club” fame, Zero Hedge blog author Daniel Ivandjiiski penned an article listing 97 taxes leveled at the average person. In the interest of brevity, I listed some below:
Air transport, biodiesel, capital gains, cigarettes, dog licenses, driver’s licenses, employer health insurance, employer Medicare, employer Social Security, environmental fees, estate taxes, federal corporate, income and unemployment, food/beverage licenses, garbage, gasoline, gift taxes, guns, hazardous material disposal, hotel rooms, imports, inheritance, insurance, interstate user diesel fuel, license plates, liquor, local school, local unemployment, luxury taxes, marriage licenses, Medicare, Obamacare excise tax, real estate, sales taxes, sewer and water, school taxes, Social Security, special assessments for road repairs, sports stadiums, state corporate taxes, state income, state unemployment (SUTA), telephone – five different taxes, alternative minimum tax, tire taxes and recycling fees, tolls, use taxes (out of state purchases, etc.), utility taxes, vehicle registration, watercraft registration and licensing and workers compensation.
Obviously, some taxes are necessary, such as for schools or hazardous waste to use as examples, but most of this is no more than the government taking from us to spread around as they see fit, such as placing an expensive art sculpture in a government building perhaps. Real estate taxes have become no more than common theft, with residents of California, Illinois and New York leaving in droves. I saw a meme the other day that N.Y. Gov. Cuomo was honored for the leading salesmen for U-Haul for the fourth year in a row.
If you have kept dinner down, consider other absurd tax facts:
The tax code governing U.S. workers is 3.8 million words long. By contrast, the Bible is 807,000 words.
In 1940, the instructions for Form 1040 were two pages long. Today, it is 189 pages.
In 1998, Money Magazine had 46 different tax professionals complete a tax return for a hypothetical household. All of them came up with a different result.
In 2009, PC World had five tax preparation software websites prepare a tax return for a hypothetical household. All five came up with a different result.
The average American has to work until April 17 just to pay federal, state and local taxes. This gives great credence to a quote by Thomas Sowell:
“Elections should be held on April 16th — the day after we pay our income taxes. That is one of the few things that might discourage politicians from being big spenders.”
Finally, I’ll leave you with perhaps one of the greatest quotes concerning taxes and our government, as eloquently stated by former President Ronald Reagan:
“The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.”