It even says it on one of my calendars, “Tax Day”, but in this new COVID world, even that sacred and holy tradition has changed. Now you can have another thirty days before the deadline. In actual practice, the tradition of calling it “Tax Day” misleads us as if we only have this one time for the year to get our taxes paid and we are done until next year. We pay taxes in one form or another everyday of the year.
“Tax Day” means income taxes, but even then, it is not like Christmas when all the giving happens on one big day. Many people are out of work and have no income to be taxed. Others, like my neighbors, have spent their refunds long ago. Self-employed people pay estimated taxes every three months. Some billionaires with good tax lawyers and accountants pay less than a school teacher does. What is fair? Can we see the tax returns of the people who tax us – our elected officials?
This is only a short list of many of the emotional issues connected with Tax Day. Most of us, at bottom, understand that paying taxes is a necessary part of citizenship in a democracy, but – but we always wish they were more fair. What is “fair?” “Fair” is when I pay less than my neighbor because I am more needy with more obligations than they are. But seriously, I’m getting ahead of myself. Why do we have taxes? What are they? Taxes are dollars that get transferred from citizens and businesses to fund the running of the government and all its services. In that definition “Tax Day” is everyday. If you spent any money today, you probably paid a sales TAX, and a gasoline TAX. Monthly utility bills come loaded with TAXES for schools, libraries, parks, animals, trash collection.
Do you eat out, even if you drive thru? You pay a restaurant TAX. Some taxes are tied to specific uses. Sometimes they are called “sin” taxes, meaning on alcohol and tobacco. Pineville City Police just got a new cruiser from the alcohol tax. It looks fair to have use taxes. Our gasoline taxes go to keep up the roads, but electric cars get a free ride.
“Tax” is considered to be a hazardous political word. No politician wants to get caught raising taxes, even as they vote to spend more money than they have coming in from taxes. Congress is like the rest of us. They have to borrow money to run the country. Who loans America the money? The two biggest creditors are China and Saudi Arabia.
One way to raise taxes and not get caught is to call them by another name like fees and sur-charges. Another way to move cash from citizen’s pockets to government coffers is to invent a game. In this one particular game, the money goes for educational services and schools. It is called “The Lottery” and thousands of people enjoy paying this tax every day. So enjoy “Tax Day” every day. It’s a fun way to live.